The Individual Education Plan (IEP) – Frequently Asked Questions

The information in this article is intended to answer common questions about the Individual Education Plan.

What is an Individual Education Plan?

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written, working document that describes the strengths and needs of the student and the special education programs or services that will be used to meet the student’s needs. The IEP can include:

  • Accommodations or supports that will help the child access the curriculum and demonstrate learning. For example, a child with limited vision could have large print books, be seated closer to the teacher, and have verbal reports rather than written ones.
  • Modifications or changes made to grade-level expectations in the Ontario Curriculum, such as lower or higher grade learning expectations, or changes in the number or complexity of learning expectations like students colouring the map instead of writing in the place names.
  • Alternative programs not included in the Ontario Curriculum, such as social skill development, anger management, or teaching of specific skills such as Braille, orientation and mobility for students who are blind or low vision, or self care and independence skills for students with significant intellectual challenges.

2. Why does my child need an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

Your child must have an IEP if they have been identified as exceptional through an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC).

Your child may have an IEP if they require accommodations for instructional or assessment purposes, such as assistive technology, including text-to-speech software, or materials in Braille.

Your child may have an IEP if they require modifications to the curriculum, for example, if they are still learning letter recognition, while most of the other students are reading words.

3. How is the IEP developed? Who has input and who approves it?

The IEP is developed by the school in consultation with the parents. The classroom teacher is responsible for using the IEP and they will receive help from the principal and special education teacher in writing the IEP. The principal is responsible for making sure an IEP is developed and will sign the finished document. The IEP must be completed within 30 days after your child has been placed in the program, and the principal must ensure that you receive a copy of it. The IEP must be reviewed regularly, three times a year in elementary school and each semester in high school, and provided to the parents within 30 days of the new school year or semester.

The classroom teacher, or another school staff, may talk to the parent(s) on the phone, or in a meeting about their child. This information will be used to develop a list of the child’s strengths and needs. The parent may also be asked about how the child performs tasks at home and for any ideas or tips that will help the child succeed.

When the IEP is completed a copy will be sent home and the parent(s) are asked to sign a form saying that they were involved in developing the IEP.

4. What types of things should be included in an IEP?

The Ministry of Education has developed a set of standards which outline what should be in every IEP, although, each school board has their own form for the IEP. However, all IEPs will include:

  • Reason for Developing the IEP – student identified exceptional by IPRC or student not formally identified but requires special education program/services.
  • Student Profile – name, school, Grade, etc.
  • Assessment Information – dates and summary of student assessments by professionals, such as Speech and Language Pathologists, Psychologists, Physiotherapists, etc.
  • Student’s Strengths and Needs – summary of skills that the student is good at (strengths) or that the student needs to develop (needs).
  • Subjects or courses where the IEP is used – the IEP should indicate the subjects or courses in which the student requires accommodations and/or modified expectations and all alternative programs.
  • Accommodations – refer to the special teaching and assessment strategies, human supports, and/or individualized equipment required to enable a student to learn and to demonstrate learning. These accommodations can include:
    • Instructional strategies, such as visual planner, or text-to-speech software.
    • Environmental strategies, such as seating near teacher, or a quiet place to study.
    • Assessment strategies, such as oral responses or models instead of written reports.
  • Provincial Assessments – dates and results of Grade 3, 6 or 9 provincial tests, or reasons for exceptions from the tests.
  • Special Education Program – this section details the programs that are not part of the grade curriculum, and are either modified from grade level or consist of an alternative program. This special education program for each subject will include:
    • Annual goal of what the student will achieve by the end of the school year.
    • Current level of achievement, based on most recent report card or assessment of learning.
    • Learning expectations for what the student is expected to learn for the IEP period, usually a term or semester.
    • Teaching strategies that will be used to help the student learn.
    • Assessment methods describing how the student will be assessed to determine what they have learned.
  • Human Resources – a list of people who will be providing support to the student, such as the special education teacher and/or educational assistants or professionals, like a Speech-Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist. Information should include; type of service, planned frequency and location.
  • Evaluation – when the student will be evaluated and a Report Card prepared for the parent.
  • Transition Plan – for students with an IEP there should be a plan for transitions, when necessary, between programs, grades and schools, and for every student, over the age of 14, a plan to help the student prepare for transition to postsecondary activities such as work, further education and/or community living.
  • Log of Parent (or student over age of 16) Consultation – a record or form documenting all consultations with parents that occurred during the IEP development. The date and outcome of each consultation must be recorded.
  • Principal’s signature – the completed IEP must be signed by the Principal.
  • Parent (or student) Signature – the parent will be asked to sign the IEP to confirm they were consulted in the development of the IEP.

5. Who has access to the IEP?

The IEP is a written plan and a working document for the classroom teacher. The teacher should be making sure that all the accommodations are being provided and tracking how the student is doing in achieving the goals of the IEP. Other school staff, including the special education teacher and the principal, will help the teacher and will have access to the IEP. The parent will get a copy when the IEP is developed and each time it is reviewed.

6. Can the IEP be changed? How often? What is the process?

The teacher(s) must review the IEP in each reporting period. In elementary school this is three times each year, and at secondary, each semester. If the student is still working with the same accommodations or on the same program there may be no need to change the IEP. However, if the student has achieved the program expectations or is having more difficulties, it may be necessary to change the IEP. The parent should be consulted on any changes.

The IEP should be reviewed and changed at the beginning of each school year, and must be developed or reviewed within 30 days of the annual IPRC.

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) - Special Education
The Individual Education Plan (IEP) – Special Education

For further information, the Ministry of Education has developed an Individual Education Plan (IEP) Resource Guide that can be found online.

Information about special education, the IPRC and IEP can also be found on the Easter Seals Kids at School website.


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