What is an IEP?

When parents register a child at Symbols, part of the registration process includes forms that they are required to fill out to give us more information about their child. Some questions we ask are the child’s grade and school, whether they’ve ever had a psych ed report, and whether or not they have an IEP, or if one is planned. What we have noticed is that some parents have answered this question as “I don’t know what this is.”

So, what is an IEP?

IEP stands for individualized education plan. This is a specialized plan that is developed by the teacher, with the help of the student’s parents, and if the student is over 16- their help as well. An IEP identifies what the student’s specific learning expectations are, and goes on to outline how the school can and will address these expectations. This may be done through accommodations, program modifications, or specific instructions and assessments. It is believed that with appropriate special education programs and services, many students with special needs will be able to achieve the grade-level learning expectations of the provincial curriculum. The IEP is used to document any accommodations that are considered to be necessary for each exceptional pupil to succeed.

There are many different accommodations that can be made, depending on the specific student. Some general accommodations that may be used are textbooks with large font, receiving extra time for assignments, having peers write down notes and share them with the struggling student, or receiving worksheets with highlighted instructions.

Some modifications that can be permitted during tests are having untimed tests, being tested orally, receiving a choice for test format (choosing between multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, etc). Students may also receive study guides before tests, be allowed to use notes during test, or be allowed to have textbook open during the test.

Some behavior modifications can include receiving breaks between tasks, getting daily feedback, having parent sign homework, and using positive re-enforcement.

If your child has difficulty learning, or has been diagnosed as having a learning difference, they are a candidate for IEP. Having an individualized education plan can make a huge difference in the classroom, so if your child may be eligible, it is definitely something to look into.

Rob Wahl