Guide To IEP Checklist

(please keep in mind that certain parts of the IEP differ depending on the state)

IEP Checklist

Writing an IEP can be a daunting task, even for veteran teachers. Here is a Guide to IEP Checklist and tips to drafting an IEP for your students. The checklist includes steps that should be taken 4-6 weeks prior to the meeting as well as steps throughout the IEP drafting process. Continue reading for a more detailed description of the Guide to IEP Checklist.

Guide to IEP Checklist  (Click Here to Download printable PDF checklist)

4-6 weeks prior to the IEP being due:

  • Schedule the IEP with parent. I know this may seem early but sometimes you need that extra time especially when working with other service providers or teachers and needing to wait on other people’s input.
  • After scheduling the meeting, I ALWAYS email the parents to ask for their input. What would they like to see their child working on? What are goals they see for their child in the next year? These are all things to keep in mind while we draft goals for our students. It does not mean you have to use the information they give, but the more you can include the parent into the process of drafting the IEP, the better.

Contact the rest of the IEP team that the meeting has been scheduled.

  • This can be through a calendar invite, an email, or however your school likes to do things. Make sure everyone on the team is invited. Also ask for input from service providers (Physical therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathologist, Adapted PE, Hearing, Vision, other academic teachers etc.). This gives ample time for people to get back to you and really, no excuses in the matter.

Gather work samples & other useful information/assessments on your student.

  • You’re probably already doing this, but in preparation for the IEP, make sure you keep work samples and other assessments (informal or formal) in a folder or binder so when you start drafting goals, you have sample that support why you’re writing what you’re writing.
  • It is good to have a baseline of where the student is currently performing (academics, life skills, all areas that you are teaching) so that you can work on deciding next steps and goals for the next year.

Transition Page

  • Try to include the student as much as possible when writing the transition page. If they are lower functioning, nonverbal, or have difficulties with expressive communication, there are still ways to include them.
  • If your transition page has an interests section… you can print off pictures and have your student make choices. Give them a field of 2 or 3 options and do this multiple times (based on what you know of your student) to get them to make choices where they can.
  • Many states have specific wording they prefer on the transition page, so you should talk to your Employment & Transition Representative or someone in the equivalent title for clarification. In some states, that person is even required to complete that page with the student, so be sure to ask!

Drafting IEP goals, strengths, and needs

  • When writing strengths and needs for your student, make sure they reflect the actual category/topic. Don’t write strengths/needs for Math, in the Reading goal.
  • Be specific about where your student is functioning. Also, try your best not to have more strengths than needs. It might be difficult sometimes, but here’s an example:
  • Student X Reading Strengths: Student enjoys being read to and participating in classroom reading activities. Student is able to visually focus on the book being read and turn pages on cue. She knows how to hold a book in the correct direction. Student is able to follow along with her finger as the teacher reads the words. Student is eager to learn how to read and puts a lot of effort into her work. Student has good listening comprehension skills.
  • Student X Reading Needs: Student has difficulty identifying certain letter sounds, which impacts her ability to decode words. Student has difficulty reading simple sentences and comprehending text she has read. She requires adult assistance and support to sound out some words, which impacts her ability to read independently.
  • You can always find something good to say, sometimes you have to just look a little harder. This can also help remind parents that we know their child, we see their strengths and needs, and we are here to teach and help them progress. We want them to know we see their child, all of them.
  • When writing goals, make sure you’re thinking about how you will collect data. All goals should be ATTAINABLE, MEASURABLE, and SPECIFIC.
  • Student X will identify the next dollar up using the dollar more strategy (on 10 questions at a time) to determine how much money is needed to make a purchase with 100% accuracy on 4 out of 5 trials measured quarterly.

Drafting the Present Level of Performance

  • This is where all other information goes that pertains to the student. Specific information on goals/objectives will go in the goal area of the IEP.
  • Things that should be included here are (not in any specific order):
  • Characteristics about the student
  • Information on eligibility/diagnosis
  • Medical needs, medication? Seizures? Allergies?
  • Student schedule, grade level
  • Does student wear glasses? Is student in a wheelchair? Does student have a communication device?
  • Behavioral notes, is student on a behavior plan? Details of this will go on the BIP (behavioral intervention plan) portion of the IEP, but you can note that student has one here
  • Certain strategies that may work best with this student
  • ANY information regarding student can go here. Especially info that should be documented but you are unsure where to do so.

Behavior Intervention Plan/Functional Behavioral Assessments

  • If your student has a BIP, make sure the data is up to date. If you are able to put data into a chart or graph to show trends, even better. (This can be done through Microsoft excel).
  • Be sure to have specific information in the plan, include reinforcers, function of the behavior, target behaviors, how you’ll collect data, and update the goal. Most students who have behavior plans have meetings every 2-3 months to go over data with parents.
  • Speak to your school/county behavior specialists when writing behavior plans to make sure they are written correctly.
  • When writing FBAs, also consult with your behavioral specialist so that you are collecting the right type of data on a student. They usually have a lot of resources they can provide you with to support your students.

Reaching out to the team again

  • After you’ve drafted your goals, it’s a good idea to reach out to the team again to make sure other people have put their goals in (Speech, OT, PT etc.).
  • Let them know when you’ll be sending home the goals to the parents for review.

Send goals home for parent review/input

  • 1 week prior to the IEP meeting, send the goals home for parent review.
  • Depending on the student/subject, sometimes I send an email explaining WHY I chose specific goals or a certain direction. This can help parents understand where you’re coming from and the goals you’ve set for your student.
  • Sometimes the parents will not read these or even reply, but sometimes they do and it can be helpful. If they have certain questions, they can ask ahead of time and these things can be solved/fixed before the meeting. This makes for a swifter IEP meeting without issues.
  • It’s always helpful for the parents to have seen the goals before the meeting, so you don’t have to go through them word for word at the meeting, unless it’s necessary. This also helps with discussions having a direction at the meeting.

Gather state documents or brochures you need to give parents

  • Every state has various brochures or information we give to parents at the IEP meetings, make sure you have these on hand or have sent them home.

Check your binder before attending meeting

  • Before your meeting, go through your student binder to make sure you have the following:
  • Drafted IEP (all parts you are able to draft beforehand)
  • Student work samples
  • Any informal or formal assessments on the student
  • Any data or progress notes you may need
  • ALL GOALS for service providers or specific subjects are in the IEP
  • Any other important information pertaining to the student

1 Day before, send reminder email to the team

  • Send a reminder email to the team about the meeting.
  • Also, keep in mind- if team members have any issues with goals or anything, MAKE SURE they bring it up to you beforehand and not at the meeting in front of the parent. You want the whole team to be on the same page and supporting one another, minimize surprises if possible.

Prepare cover page if necessary with team members on it

  • If applicable, prepare the cover or sign in sheet beforehand. You can add or delete members at the meeting.

*** During the IEP meeting, make sure someone is documenting meeting discussion. This can usually be put into the Present Level of Performance, unless your county has another specific area. You want everything to be documented.***

Post IEP Meeting:

  • Make sure the IEP is signed and finalized. Make sure the parent has a copy.
  • Give the original to your office or SPED Department (follow your school procedures)
  • Make sure you have a copy of the IEP and that other team members have an updated copy, or access to it.
  • Create data sheets for IEP goals and objectives so you can begin collecting data on new goals.

For a shortened Guide to IEP checklist, click HERE. 

Final things to remember:

  • MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND what is on each page of the IEP so you can explain it to parents (state assessments, diploma options, service hours, due process, etc.) ASK your department chair or mentor for clarification if needed before the meeting.
  • The more you can prepare before the meeting, the smoother the meeting will go. OF COURSE there are always exceptions, but the more upfront work you are able to do, it really does make a difference and people notice.
  • Leading your first IEP meeting? Breathe. As long as you’ve done the preparations, make sure you know what the IEP says, and have been collaborating with parents and team members, you’ve got this. Your team members are also there to support you.
  • It’s important to remember that you want anyone who picks up an IEP to get a clear picture of who the student is. Although you know your student, you will not always be that student’s teacher. You want to make sure the IEP is detailed and includes everything you can think of about the student, so that no matter who reads it, they’ll be able to get a true picture of who your student is.

Hope this Guide to IEP Checklist is helpful with your IEP writing!

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