Basics of IEPs- Can It Really Be Reduced to Six Steps?

Written by: Chicago School GPS

When a family realizes their amazing, delightful child may need more services to meet his/her needs, a cloud of confusion, panic and even dread tends to set in. They may have heard the acronym “IEP” but don’t even know that it means “Individualized Education Program” and that their child can receive specialized services to realize his/her potential.   Can the complicated world of IEPs be reduced to just a few simple steps?  Steps- “Yes” ; Simple- “No”.


  • Step 1: Identifying Students with a Disability

If parents notice their child is struggling in school or not achieving milestones, they should meet with the teacher to discuss concerns but if something more serious is suspected, parents should make a written request for an evaluation.  

  • Step 2: Interventions While Awaiting Evaluation

Schools typically do employ Rtl (Response to Intervention), a tiered intervention system where teachers work individually with a child to see if targeted interventions and benchmark evaluations can improve performance.


  • Step 3: The Referral

Anyone can request a Full and Individualized Evaluation (FIE) but oftentimes it comes from the parent via a written, signed and dated form or letter. For Early Intervention, referrals should be submitted before the child is 3 years old.


  • Step 4: Notifications Regardless of Evaluation Determination

Case managers have 14 days to respond to a request by stating in writing whether the school feels an evaluation is warranted.


  • Step 5: Evaluation

Domain meeting assessment tools and strategies are employed to determine a disability.  Parents can agree or disagree with findings.


  • Step 6: Developing the IEP

After evaluation, team determines disability/label in one of 13 categories.  Needs are identified and goals are developed.


Knowing the steps is only the start.  The complexity lies in successfully knowing how to advocate for your child.  Join us on Tuesday, March 18 at7PM at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness as we discuss more in depth the “Basics of IEPs” to get you over the dread and allow you to begin your special education journey with confidence. RSVP here.

Posted on March 17, 2014 at 12:14 PM