Step 5 The IEP Meeting

Step 5 The IEP Meeting

When your child's evaluation is complete, it is time for the IEP team to meet and discuss the information that has been gathered from the evaluation or outside sources. You probably met all or most of your child's IEP team during the evaluation process. You can invite others to attend the IEP meeting. Some parents like to invite their EI service coordinators or service providers or private service providers. Be sure to let your contact person from the school district know who to invite to the IEP meeting.

Throughout this workbook, we emphasize how important it is for you to be an active member of your child's IEP team. You have a lot of information and insight about how your child learns, what your child can do, and what you want your child to learn next. The Parent Page: Getting Ready For Your IEP (page 25) will help you collect some of your thoughts, ideas and concerns to share at the IEP meeting.

Your child's IEP meeting accomplishes two separate tasks:

  1. The IEP team determines if your child is eligible for special education and related services.
  2. If your child is eligible, then the IEP team writes the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Sometimes both of these tasks are completed in one meeting; sometimes it takes two meetings. Let's take a look at each part of the IEP meeting.

Determining Eligibility

During the first part of the IEP meeting, everyone reviews the results of all of the evaluations. You can request a copy of the evaluation reports before the meeting. The IEP meeting is a time for you to ask questions about the results and to share what you know about your child. Remember, the purpose of the evaluation is to try to capture a full picture of your child, including the things that your child can do well and the things that are difficult for your child.

You will be asked if you agree or disagree with the evaluation results. If you disagree, you have options similar to the options you had in Early Intervention. Talk with your service coordinator and the IEP team about your concerns. You can also refer to the Evaluation and IEP sections of A Parent's Guide: The Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities.

Using the results of the evaluation, the IEP team will discuss whether your child is eligible for special education and related services based on one or more eligibility categories. Your IEP team can decide to use "developmental delay" to determine eligibility as long as your child also meets the requirements of one of the other eligibility categories. Ask your IEP team to explain the eligibility categories to you. You can read about the eligibility categories in A Parent's Guide: The Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities or on the Illinois State Board of Education website:

If the IEP team agrees that your child IS eligible for special education and related services, the next step of the process is to write your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP).

If the IEP team agrees that your child is NOT eligible for special education and related services, then your service coordinator can help you find other community early childhood opportunities for your child. Your school district may also be able to provide you with ideas about other opportunities available in your community.

Writing the IEP

In Early Intervention, your family and child's outcomes and activities were written on an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). When your child is 3, the educational plan will be written on an Individualized Education Program (IEP). To see a comparison between Early Intervention and Special Education, look at the chart on page 26-27.

The IEP is the plan that will guide your child's special education and related services. You will continue to have an important role on the IEP team as your child's Individualized Education Program is written. Some parents find it helpful to review a blank IEP form before the meeting so they will have an idea of what the document will look like and what the IEP team will discuss at the meeting.

After reviewing the evaluation results and determining eligibility, it is time for the IEP team to talk about the goals for your child. It is helpful when everyone who will implement the IEP participates in writing the annual goals. Measurable annual goals are the things that you and the other members of the IEP team would like to see your child learn in 12 months. The goals written by the IEP team will reflect the things that your child needs to learn in school.

"What do I want my child to learn in the next 12 months?"

What is included in an IEP?

  • Statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance
  • Information on how the child's disability affects the child's participation in age-appropriate activities
  • Statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to meet the child's needs and enable the child to be involved in and make progress in age-appropriate activities
  • Description of how the child's progress will be measured
  • Timeline for providing periodic reports on the child's progress
  • Statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services available to the child
  • Statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child to make progress and participate in curricular, extracurricular and nonacademic activities and to be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children
  • Projected date for the beginning of services and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of services and modifications

IDEA, 2004, Sec. 614(d)

After the IEP team has written measurable annual goals, everyone will discuss the supports and related services your child will need in order to make progress on the goals and participate in age-appropriate activities. You might hear the phrase "educationally relevant" during the IEP meeting when you talk about related services. Your child's related services need to be connected to your child's right to make progress in school and to participate in age-appropriate activities.

Your child's annual goals and related services will be individualized to meet your child's needs. After the IEP team has written annual goals and decided on related services, the next part of the IEP meeting is to talk about placement or where your child will receive the special education and related services written in the IEP. Your child's IEP team must consider a regular education preschool setting as the first option for placement.

Special education and related services are not a "place". Special education and related services are individually designed and planned to meet your child's needs. Your child's special education and related services can be given in a variety of different settings. Some of those settings could be community preschool or child care programs, park district preschools, Head Start, state-funded Pre-kindergarten or Preschool for All programs, or Early Childhood Special Education programs in your school district. The decision of your child's placement will be made by the IEP team during the meeting.


Related services are required when the services are necessary to enable your child to benefit from special education.

Related services could include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, adapted physical education, recreation therapy, social work, psychological services, counseling, orientation and mobility and audiology services.

Related services are determined on an individual basis by your child's IEP team.

Another term you will hear quite often is "least restrictive environment" (LRE). When we talk about LRE, we mean an educational setting where children with and without disabilities can learn, play and grow. Services and supports that children with disabilities receive in their LRE are designed to meet their developmental, functional and academic needs.

Other important decisions that the IEP team will make include Extended School Year services (ESY), how progress will be measured, and when you will receive progress reports. After the IEP is written, you will be asked to sign consent for services to start. Special education and related services can not begin without your informed, written consent. The initial IEP must be in effect by your child's third birthday.

Parent Checklist

I attended the IEP meeting on:
(Check box and a line for answer)

The IEP team determined eligibility:
(Check box and a line for answer)

My child's IEP was written:
(Check box and a line for answer)

I signed consent for my child's IEP to begin:
(Check box and a line for answer)

My child's special education and related services will begin on:
(Check box and a line for answer)

"I thought Kenny would never adjust to school, and that he would regress. When my son turned 3, I was still grieving that he wasn't going to go to regular preschool where his two brothers went. Now that I look back, I think the only thing I would do differently is breathe more and grieve less."
-Kenny's mother

Parent Page: Getting Ready For Our IEP

What has my child learned this year?
(Several lines for answer)

What are my child's strengths and special interests?
(Several lines for answer)

What are my concerns for my child's education?
(Several lines for answer)

What do I want my child to learn next?
(Several lines for answer)

What are the supports and services I think my child may need to make progress on the next set of goals?
(Several lines for answer)

Comparing Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education Services
Early Intervention Special Education
Governing federal laws Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004)
Ages for services Birth to 3 3 through 21
Goal of the program Helping the family meet the developmental needs of their child with a delay or disability Educating the child with a delay or disability
Evaluation Two or more professionals from different disciplines complete a developmental evaluation of all five areas of development. A team of professionals completes an evaluation in the area(s) of suspected disability.
Eligibility A child must have a 30 percent delay in one area of development or a documented medical condition, as determined by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Early Intervention. A child is found eligible using one of the eligibility categories for special education and related services.
Service delivery model Parents and caregivers enroll their child in EI services. The type(s), frequency, location and duration of services, including individuals providing services, are determined through the IFSP process. Local education agencies (LEAs) are required to provide special education and related services to eligible individuals, ages 3 through 21 years. Services are determined by the IEP team.
Family involvement Families must be involved in the process to develop the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Parents must be a member of any team (e.g., planning and placement) that makes decisions regarding the education of their child.
Service coordination Each eligible infant or toddler is assigned a service coordinator who coordinates services and assists the family throughout their involvement in the EI system. Although service coordination is not required, a case manager is assigned to each child with an IEP. The case manager is usually someone on the child's IEP team.
Type of plan An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) documents the family functional outcomes developed by the team. IFSPs are reviewed at least every six months with the service coordinator and rewritten annually by the IFSP team. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) documents the child's measurable annual goals, services and program; the IEP also describes how progress will be measured. The IEP team reviews the IEP annually.
Services All EI services are provided to support the family's ability to meet their child's developmental needs and the family's desired outcomes. Special education is an educational service or program that is instructional in nature. Related services (such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech and language therapy) are provided when they are required in order to assist a child in obtaining benefit from the special education program.
Location of services EI services are provided in natural environments such as the child's home or in other sites in the community, where infants and other toddlers without disabilities participate. Services are provided in the context of the family's normal routines. Children with disabilities are educated in the least restrictive environment and with their typically developing peers. A child may receive services in a more restrictive environment only when the IEP team determines that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Cost of services Families are billed on a sliding fee scale and insurance plans are billed. Children are provided a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
Transition The transition process for families begins when the child is 2 years 6 months of age. A Transition Planning Conference will be held at least 90 days before the child's third birthday. A LEA representative will participate in the Transition Planning Conference. If a child is determined eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services, the IEP will be developed by the child's third birthday.


It's Time To Take A Break!

  • Play with your child
  • Take a walk
  • Watch a movie with your family
  • Do something just for you
  • Take a nap
  • Talk with a friend
  • Listen to music
  • Take a deep breath

How are you feeling now?