What Is An Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

Learning Disability
For Parents & Students

Every student deserves the opportunity to succeed in the classroom, but some students require instruction and support that is catered to their learning profile. However, most lesson plans, teaching styles, and even the classroom structure are all designed to be effective for the average student. This leaves students with learning differences and disabilities behind. 

IEPs play an essential role in ensuring that every student has the opportunity to learn in a way that works for them. 

What is an IEP? 

An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan or Individualized Education Program. IEPs are developed within a school district by a team of educators, including a psychologist and/or social worker employed by the school district, and are focused on providing information, instruction, and guidance on how the school can support a student with learning differences and learning disabilities. 

IEPs are drafted by a school or district representative. An IEP is a legal contract. When created and agreed to by all parties, including you, the parent, the IEP will remain intact until the next review period or a reevaluation if and when requested. 

“Perhaps the most important feature of an IEP is that it helps to ensure that a student has access to a curriculum based on their specific academic/social/assistive technology needs,” says Monica Mandell, LMSW, Bilingual Social Worker and Educational Advocate. “It is required by both Federal and State Education laws that services be provided in the least restrictive environment in order to maximize the strengths of the student and to keep the student with their peers,” Monica continues. “It is an individualized educational plan that can help a student be successful at school.” 

Evaluations for IEPs are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). When a student qualifies for support for a learning difference or disability, they receive an IEP catered to differences that were recognized during the basic evaluation conducted by the school. Their parent or guardian must sign off on the final IEP before it goes into effect. 

What is Included in an IEP? 

IEPs traditionally include:

  • Where the child stands in their current level of performance. 
  • Functional goals. 
  • A list of services available to the child based on need and availability.
  • “Reasonable accommodations” that will be made for the child to learn in the classroom.
  • Goals and objectives to accomplish over a stated period of time. 
  • How much time per week, at a minimum, the school is required to provide for each goal.
  • The period of when services will begin and end. This period is usually one year. 
  • Progress made since the previous IEP in specific areas of learning. 

According to Dr. Craig Pohlman, “The format of IEPs may vary by school system, but the core components will be consistent.” 

What is NOT Included in an IEP?

IEPs traditionally do not include:

  • Formal diagnosis.
  • Recommended instructional approaches and strategies. 
  • Flexibility. 

As mentioned above, an IEP is a legal contract, meaning there is no flexibility. The school is required to provide the services and accommodations agreed upon in the IEP. 

Is Your Child Eligible for an IEP? 

“An IEP has given my child the ability to learn in a way that works for him in the classroom,” says Parallel team member Michael. “This support has changed his behavior in and out of the classroom, academic performance, and general happiness,” Michael continues. 


Parallel is on your side and available to guide you through this process. Many members of our team have been in your shoes before and understand how to navigate this sometimes challenging journey as we all work to empower children who think differently. If you believe your child has a learning difference or disability and could benefit from support, accommodations, and coaching, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with a Parallel Care Coordinator. 

Request Your Free Consultation with Parallel Learning

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