High Expectations and Appropriate Supports: The Importance of IEPs (2018)

2020 OSEP Summit Postponed
The Attract, Prepare, Retain: OSEP National Summit on Improving Effective Personnel for Children with Disabilities has been postponed


As part of our effort to create an engaging and meaningful event, we invite you to explore the following resources.

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Endrew F. Question and Answer Document
On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1, 137 S.Ct. 988. The court held that “to meet its substantive obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a school must offer [a child] an IEP [individualized education program] reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” In December 2017 OSERS released a 9-page Q&A to give parents and other stakeholders information on the issues addressed in the case and the impact of the Court's decision on the implementation of IDEA.

Least Restrictive Environment

  • Placement, Short and Sweet
    IDEA clearly states that students with disabilities are supposed to be educated in regular education classrooms alongside their peers without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. How is placement decided? What resources are available to support students with disabilities in the regular classroom?
  • Considering LRE in Placement Decisions
    Least restrictive environment (LRE) is one of several vital components in the development of a child’s IEP and plays a critical role, influencing where a child spends his or her time at school, how services are provided, and the relationships the child develops within the school and community. LRE is a foundational element in building an appropriate IEP that can improve outcomes for a child—in school and in life.
  • Resource Package | Inclusive Academic Instruction
    This resource package (which begins with a video) focuses on how inclusive academic instruction provides a variety of instructional and assessment options that meet every student’s needs and promote learning. Comes with a discussion guide, PowerPoint presentation, and steps to get you started.

Data Use and IEP/IFSP Goals

  • Enhancing Recognition of High Quality, Functional IFSP Outcomes: A Training Activity for Infant and Toddler Service Providers
    This training activity was created to support participants’ understanding of the criteria needed to develop and write high quality, participation-based Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) outcomes. The term “functional” is often used to describe what outcomes ought to be, yet many providers struggle to define what makes an outcome “functional.” Still others struggle with making outcomes meet the criteria set forth in regulations, as well as have meaning for families. Reviews of existing resources developed by national experts provided a framework for considering IFSP outcomes to determine if the outcomes are high quality and support the child’s participation in everyday routines and activities.
  • Enhancing Recognition of High Quality, Functional IEP Goals: A Training Activity for Early Childhood Special Education Staff
    This training activity was created to support participants’ understanding of the criteria needed to develop and write high quality, participation-based Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals. The term “functional” is often used to describe what goals ought to be, yet many Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) staff (e.g., teachers and related services staff) struggle to define what makes a goal “functional.” Still others struggle with making goals meet the criteria set forth in regulations, as well as have meaning for families. Reviews of existing resources developed by national experts provided a framework for considering IEP goals to determine if the goals are high quality and support the child’s participation in everyday routines and activities.
  • Developing High-Quality, Functional IFSP Outcomes and IEP Goals Training Package
    A NECTAC-convened workgroup of diverse stakeholders (researchers, higher education faculty, state policy makers, regional and local program administrators, family representatives, service providers, and technical assistance providers) engaged in a consensus process to articulate principles for the IEP Process that support family participation, inclusive practices and positive outcomes for preschool children with disabilities. They also developed a companion document on practices. A list of the workgroup participants is included in each of the documents.
  • Using Academic Progress Monitoring for Individualized Instructional Planning (Professional Development Module)
    This training module demonstrates how academic progress monitoring fits into the Data-Based Individualization (DBI) process by (a) providing approaches and tools for academic progress monitoring and (b) showing how to use progress monitoring data to set ambitious goals, make instructional decisions, and plan programs for individual students with intensive needs. Slides 40-92 describe how to use progress monitoring data to set ambitious individualized instructional goals, and slides 62-81 provide information specific to developing IEPs.
  • Using Academic Progress Monitoring for Individualized Instructional Planning (Webinar)
    This webinar is a condensed version of the training module described above. However, it does not include as much IEP-specific information.
  • Using FBA for Diagnostic Assessment in Behavior
    This module serves as an introduction to important concepts and processes for implementing functional behavior assessment (FBA), including behavior basics such as reinforcement and punishment. Key topics include (a) defining FBAs in the context of DBI; (b) basic concepts in behavior, including antecedents, behaviors, and consequences; (c) levels of FBAs; and (d) considerations and procedures for conducting FBAs.

The IEP and IFSP Process

  • Key Practices Underlying the IEP Process: Supporting Family Participation, Inclusive Practices, and Positive Outcomes for Preschool Children with Disabilities
    This document is a companion to “Key Principles Underlying the IEP Process.” The practices reflect considerations important to fostering a partnership with families throughout the process of developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for preschool children with disabilities. They are based on validated and/or best-known information from the field, do not represent a specific model or approach, and are not intended to include practices for implementing IEP’s. The practices listed suggest a flow of activities occurring during the IEP process from first contacts with the family throughout development of the IEP. It is recognized that there may be variability within state and local procedures.
  • Outcomes Measurement: IFSP/IEP-Outcomes Integration
    States and local programs are making child and family outcomes measurement more efficient and more effective by integrating those processes with IFSP and IEP development and implementation. The ECTA Center works to support states that are making changes to their systems and materials to integrate these two processes.
  • ECTA: The IFSP Process
    Although programs have different procedures, there are key steps in the IFSP process. The link shows a chart of a typical flow of steps and responsibilities and indicates the activities that must be completed within 45 days, from referral to the IFSP meeting. For convenience, the chart uses the term "service coordinator" as the person likely to be coordinating the process. More accurately, it should say "service coordinator or other service provider" since states and programs may have different team members assigned to such duties. Different roles may have different names as well, such as intake coordinator, family guide, primary service provider, etc.
  • Videos | The IEP Team Process
    There are 5 videos on the IEP process for families, staff, board members, and others: IDEA and IEPs, the IEP Team, the Team Process, Getting Ready for the IEP Meeting, and the IEP meeting. From the ECAC Center, North Carolina’s PTI.
  • Training Modules on the IEP and Webinar
    Three modules on the IEP are available at CPIR, with trainer guides, slideshows, and handouts for participants. There is also a 2016 webinar introducing Parent Centers to the modules and giving suggestions for how to use them with families and others.

Students with Deaf-Blindness

  • Are Intervener Services Appropriate for Your Student with Deaf-Blindness?: An IEP Team Discussion Guide
    This guide is designed to help teams make informed decisions about whether an intervener (a paraeducator who has received specialized training in deaf-blindness) should be provided as part of a student’s related services and supplementary aids and services. Interveners provide access to visual and auditory information, instruction, and social relationships that are unavailable due to severely limited vision and hearing.
  • HomeTalk: A Family Assessment of Children who are Deafblind
    HomeTalk is an assessment tool designed for use by parents and care providers of children who are deafblind and who have other disabilities. Its purpose is to help you participate more actively in the planning of your child's educational program. HomeTalk is designed to provide a broad picture of your child's skills, special interests, and personality.

Transition in the IEP

  • Transition Considerations in the IEP: Indicator 13 Checklist Form B
    Indicator B-13 is reported annually as part of each State's Annual Performance Report and is the measure of compliance with the transition requirements in IDEA (2004), reflected in the IEP for students 16 and older. Form B is designed to meet the minimum requirements for collecting and reporting data on Indicator 13 of the Part B State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report and is approved for use by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). It allows a school, district, or state to analyze professional development and program change needs by providing data on each item for each postsecondary goal area. The checklist also provides guiding questions to facilitate accurate data collection for each item.
  • Age-appropriate Transition Assessment Toolkit
    This toolkit introduces the topic of age-appropriate transition assessment (a mandated component of transition planning in IDEA, 2004) and provides a linkable suggested timeline for conducting assessments.
  • Secondary Transition: Student-Centered Transition Planning
    This Module will help users to better understand the benefits of student-centered transition planning, identify ways to involve students in collecting assessment information and developing goals, and be able to prepare students to actively participate in their own IEP meetings (est. completion time: 2 hours).

Individualized Instruction

  • High-Leverage Practices in Special Education
    In partnership with the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR), the Council for Exceptional Children has developed and published a set of high-leverage practices (HLPs) for special educators and teacher candidates. The selected practices are used frequently in classrooms and have been shown to improve student outcomes if successfully implemented.
  • Differentiated Instruction: Maximizing the Learning of All Students
    This Module discusses the importance of differentiating three aspects of instruction: content, process (instructional methods), and product (assessment). It explores the student traits—readiness level, interest, and learning preferences—that influence learning (est. completion time: 3 hours).
  • RTI (Part 5): A Closer Look at Tier 3
    This Module describes which students will receive Tier 3 intervention (i.e., special education services), components of Tier 3 reading interventions, and students' response to this individualized intervention. This Module also explores parent involvement and issues related to English language learners (est. completion time: 2 hours).
  • Data Meeting Tools
    These materials are intended to assist teams in structuring data review for students with severe and persistent learning and behavior challenges. Although they not designed solely for the purpose of IEP development, IEP and multi-disciplinary teams may find the structure and recommendations useful if they are looking to refine their data collection and meeting procedures.
  • Student-Level DBI Implementation Checklists
    This resource is intended to help teachers and data teams evaluate the extent to which their intervention plan was implemented as intended. Although it was not specifically designed to be used to evaluate an IEP, it could easily be adapted for that purpose.
  • Accessible Educational Materials in High Quality IEPs (Video)
    The use of Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) by students who need them must be reflected in any high quality IEP. There is no specific requirement in IDEA, however, regarding where to include the consideration of AEM in developing the IEP. This video by the AEM Center introduces viewers to AEM, how to address accessibility of materials in the IEP, as well as considerations for transition programs.

Resources for Parents and Families

  • Transition from Early Intervention to Special Education Preschool: What You Need to Know Before Your Child’s Third Birthday
    Families are the most important people in a child’s life. Parenting is a big responsibility. Parents and family members make sure their children are safe and have good care. They watch to see that their children grow and develop as they should for their age. This is a big challenge. It can be an even bigger challenge when parents know their child has a disability or if they think their child is not developing like other children the same age. It is hard to know what a child should be doing and what to expect. At times parents may feel alone and not know where to turn for help. But parents do know their children better than anyone else does. Know that you are your child’s best advocate and also the one who will be most affected as you share your child’s joys and challenges.
  • Parents as Partners in the IEP Process
    The Utah Parent Center has developed this booklet to be used either independently or with the Parents as Partners in the IEP Process workshop. It provides a brief overview of some the laws and suggestions about what you, a parent, can do to prepare for your important role as an equal member of the team that designs the individualized education plan or program to meet your child’s needs.
  • All about the IEP
    This suite of pages at the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) provides parents and professionals with 4 stand-alone articles: The Short-and-Sweet IEP Overview; The IEP Team; Contents of the IEP; and When the IEP Team Meets. These pages, in turn, branch off to provide more detailed information about each member of the IEP team, each component of the IEP, special factors to consider in IEP development, and more. Also available in Spanish.
  • Developing Your Child’s IEP
    Updated in 2017, this CPIR document (once a product of NICHCY) takes parents through the entire IEP process, with examples (e.g., how to write a strong present levels statement, how to tie the annual goals to that statement and identify what supports (related services, supplementary aids and services) will be provided to the student, based on his or her needs. Also available in Spanish.
  • Online IEP training in English, Spanish, and Creole
    Parent to Parent of Miami (Florida’s CPRC serving Miami, Dade, and Monroe counties) has an online training series about the IEP in three languages. You must be a registered user to access these trainings, but it’s easy and it’s free. Use the sessions to train new staff or help families learn about the IEP process.