What is an IEP and Should I be Okay with My Child Having One?

Written by Teresa Woodruff

An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a specialized education plan developed by teachers, counselors, and specialists to help a child be more successful in the classroom. According to the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) of 2004, the public school has the responsibility to identify and help students who would benefit from additional assistance in the form of special education.

The student must have a noted disability to meet criteria for an IEP. During the IEP, a progress evaluation is conducted on the student. An IEP considers the student’s disability, sets goals and objectives, includes evidence-based interventions that the teachers are required to follow, and monitors progress in various areas. When a child has an IEP, teachers are required to use the interventions consistently from classroom to classroom. They are also required to record the child’s progress and continue to define specific goals that will lead the child to succeed in the classroom.

At Art It Out, we frequently are asked by parents if they should allow the school to develop an IEP for their child. If a teacher suggests that your child needs an IEP, the teacher is recognizing that your child is struggling in the classroom without additional resources. You can assume that the teacher has already tried several techniques to see if your child could be successful. The teacher has likely called on school specialists to help define strategies and an IEP is being considered to help your child with the hopes that monitoring your child’s progress towards goals and with continued strategies, your child with learn more.

Parents also ask us if having an IEP will label their child in a way that negatively affects college acceptance. We called several colleges (including the University of Georgia, University of Texas, University of Tennessee, and West Virginia University) and asked if an IEP affected a student’s chances of acceptance. The consensus among the admission counselors is that they only know about a student’s IEP if the student chooses to share that information on the college application. The high school transcript does not indicate if the child had an IEP. A few of the colleges even stated that during the application process, they do not even consider an IEP.
We believe if the teacher and school is asking to give your child an IEP, then they most likely have your child’s best interest at heart and believe it will truly help him/her succeed.

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