Your Child's IEP

Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). 

Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel to work together to improve educational results for children with learning disabilities.


The PROMISE at Columbia clinical team will help guide you through the IEP process. PROMISE works to make sure your child receives an IEP that includes all the services and accommodations they need to learn. Your child's IEP  will be written using the evaluation results and recommendations provided by the PROMISE at Columbia clinical team. This includes  services, supports, interventions and accommodations the school will provide for the child.


By law, the IEP must include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs. This information covers topics such as current performance, annual goals, special education and related services, accommodations, participation in state and district-wide tests, needed transition services, and measured progress.


The team that writes a child's IEP includes the parent(s), regular education teacher(s), special education teacher(s), other individuals from the school and district, and the student when appropriate.

A meeting to write the IEP must be held within 30 calendar days of deciding that the child is eligible for special education and related services. Each team member brings important information to the IEP meeting. Members share their information and work together to write the child's IEP. Each person's information adds to the team's understanding of the child and what services the child needs.


To help decide what special education and related services the student needs, generally the IEP team will begin by looking at the child's evaluation results, such as classroom tests, individual tests given to establish the student's eligibility, and observations by teachers, parents, paraprofessionals, related service providers, administrators, and others. This information will help the team describe the student's "present level of educational performance" — in other words, how the student is currently doing in school. Knowing how the student is currently performing in school will help the team develop annual goals to address those areas where the student has an identified educational need.

It is important that the discussion of what the child needs be framed around how to help the child:

  • advance toward the annual goals;
  • be involved in and progress in the general curriculum;
  • participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities; and
  • be educated with and participate with other children with disabilities and non-disabled children.


When the IEP has been written, parents must receive a copy at no cost to themselves. Everyone who will be involved in implementing the IEP must have access to the document. This includes the child's:

  • regular education teacher(s);
  • special education teacher(s);
  • related service provider(s) (for example, speech therapist); or
  • any other service provider (such as a paraprofessional) who will be responsible for a part of the child's education.

Each of these individuals needs to know what his or her specific responsibilities are for carrying out the child's IEP. This includes the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that the child must receive, according to the IEP.


Before the school can provide a child with special education and related services for the first time, the child's parents must give their written permission.

  • All school districts must offer special education mediation as a means to resolve disputes relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement or the provision of a free appropriate public education to a child with a disability. 
  • You may request an impartial hearing to resolve a disagreement about the referral, evaluation or placement of a student or regarding the provision of a free appropriate public education for a student under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 

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