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What Is An IEP and What Is Its Purpose?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

What Is An IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. Only students who qualify for special education can have an IEP. To learn more about how to qualify for special education, click here

While students without IEPs (i.e., general education curriculum) all receive the same instruction and generally must meet the same grading standards and so forth, students with IEPs have individualized components in their educational program. Some examples of these individualized components include:

  • Testing modifications
  • Extended time for assignments
  • Reduced assignments
  • Specialized Academic Instruction ("SAI") [Example: the student works on math one hour per week in a small group outside of the general education classroom]
  • Related services [Example: the student gets 30 minutes per week of speech and language services]
  • Behavior Intervention Plan
  • One-to-One
  • Nursing support
  • Mental Health Counseling

An IEP is an actual document. It is a written statement that is developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act's ("IDEA") procedures with the participation of parents and school staff. The IEP describes:

  • the child's needs;
  • academic and functional goals related to those needs;
  • the special education, related services, and program modifications and accommodations that will be provided for the child to advance in attaining the goals;
  • the progress in the general education curriculum; and
  • participation in education with disabled and non-disabled peers.

The IEP is the "centerpiece of the [IDEA's] education delivery system for disabled children." Honig v. Doe (1988) 484 U.S. 305, 311. 

What Is the Purpose of An IEP?

The purpose of an IEP is to provide the student with the necessary supports, services, and accommodations to enable the student to access and benefit from his or her education. 

Suggested Further Readings:

About the Author

Paul Hefley

Paul is an experienced litigator and trial attorney. He has litigated special education cases in the California Office of Administrative Hearings, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


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