HomeLearning DifficultiesLegal Rights & AdvocacyIndividuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004

IDEA 2004 Close Up: The Individualized Education Program (IEP)

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By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute

Factors for Consideration in Developing the IEP

The development of a student's IEP has always been guided by the consideration of several important factors. These are:

  • The strengths of the child
  • The concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child
  • The results of the initial evaluation or most recent evaluation of the child

IDEA 2004 includes this additional consideration:

  • The academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child.

PARENT TIP: Provide a written statement to the IEP team of your concerns about your child's academic, developmental, and functional needs.

A WORD ABOUT IEP FORMS: Most states and/or local school districts have developed IEP forms to help facilitate the process. These forms must contain all of the elements required by the IDEA and may also contain additional state and/or district level elements. Forms can limit flexibility and impede individualization - above all, the IEP must be tailored to the student's unique educational needs.

There are several "special factors" that must also be considered when developing the IEP. While none of these factors are new additions, changes in wording have occurred.

  • For a child whose behavior impedes the child's learning or that of others, the team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions, supports, and other strategies to address that behavior;
  • For a child with limited English proficiency, the team must consider the language needs of the child;
  • For a child who is blind or visually impaired, the team must consider instruction in Braille;
  • For a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, the team must consider language and communication needs;
  • For all children, the team must consider the need for assistive technology devices and services.

PARENT TIP: IEP teams must now consider whether your child needs assistive technology, instead of whether your child requires assistive technology - a change that creates a more expansive opportunity. Use of technology can facilitate access to the general education curriculum by allowing students with LD to bypass basic skills deficits.

Candace Cortiella's work as Director of the nonprofit The Advocacy Institute focuses on improving the lives of people with learning disabilities, through public policy and other initiatives. The mother of a young adult with learning disabilities, she lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

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