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, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.
To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, other school staff—and often the student—must come together to look closely at the student’s unique needs. These individuals pool knowledge, experience and commitment to design an educational program that will help the student be involved in, and progress in, the general curriculum. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for the student with a disability. Without a doubt, writing—and implementing—an effective IEP requires teamwork.
The U.S. Department of Education's A Guide to the Individualized Education Program explains the IEP process, which we consider to be one of the most critical elements to ensure effective teaching, learning, and better results for all children with disabilities. The guide is designed to help teachers, parents and anyone involved in the education of a child with a disability-develop and carry out an IEP. The information in this guide is based on what is required by our nation’s special education law—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).