IEP 101: For Parents

Friday, February 19th, 2021

By Megan Reed, M.S., CCC-SLP

What is an IEP?

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is written for each student who qualifies to receive special education and/or related services (e.g. speech therapy). This is a legal document that details the student’s learning needs, the services the school will provide and how progress will be measured.

How does a student receive an IEP?


  • If a student is is having problems within the classroom, and informal measures are not solving the problem, a referral can be made by the teachers or the parents.


  • A school district has to provide the parents with a plan for an evaluation. The parents must sign the consent before testing can begin.
  • The school district will then determine whether the students needs special education services through a variety of assessments. Evaluations may be conducted by the school psychologist, speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and others as needed.
  • An Evaluation Team Report (ETR) meeting will be held to discuss the results and determine if the student is eligible to receive special education services. A district has 60 days after receiving consent to complete the ETR process.


  • If the student was determined eligible for services at the ETR meeting, the team will create an IEP. A district has 30 days after the ETR to have the IEP meeting.
  • An IEP meeting will be held to establish goals for the next year. If the team agrees on the goals and accommodations, services will start as soon as possible.
  • The IEP is reviewed annually however you can request a review meeting at any time.
What should parents know about an IEP?
  • You are entitled to a copy of the proposed IEP documents prior to the meeting.
  • If you do not agree with the program, voice your concerns before signing.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! There will be a lot of information, so clarification may be needed.
  • Some school districts have a parent mentor available to help guide parents through the special education process.
  • You can find more information about parent mentors at