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Navigate the IEP

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Each child is unique, thus the IEP must be as well

Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This means education that is individually developed to address a specific child’s needs that result from his or her disability.

As a result, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be one of the most critical components of your child's success.

On this page, you’ll find general information, helpful tips, and downloadable resources—to help you effectively navigate the IEP process and ensure the best educational experience for your child. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The focus and curriculum vary per child

Because each child is unique, it is difficult to give an overall example of special education. Some students may be working at the pre-kindergarten grade level, others at the first, second, or third grade level. 

There may be students whose special education focuses primarily on speech and language development, cognitive development, or needs related to a physical or learning disability. Special education for any student can consist of:

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image of young girl with glasses lookignnglosely at textured cups

What the IEP covers, and what it does not

It is also important to remember that the education, services, and supports outlined in a child’s IEP do not necessarily cover that child’s entire education. The IEP only addresses those educational needs resulting from the child’s disability. If a child needs special education support throughout the school day, for all activities, the IEP will cover all these needs. 

If the child doesn’t need special education support in one or more areas (for example, physical education, music, or science), then the IEP will not include these subjects. The child accesses them through the general curriculum/ class, with no additional special education services.

IEP Resources

IEP Notebook-Span (2)
IEP Notebook/IEP Cuaderno
IEP Cuaderno Su participación en el desarrollo de un Programa de Educación Individualizado (IEP por sus siglas en inglés) que sea efectivo y adecuado es esencial para el éxito de su hijo(a). Aunque el típico IEP normalmente cubre un período de 12 meses, cada IEP ayuda a consolidar la base para el futuro en la vida de su hijo. Piense en el adulto en el que su hijo se convertirá. Al planear, piense más allá de estos doce meses por venir. Considere su participación como un proceso de tres pasos.
Categories: IEP, Spanish, Special Education
IEP Tip Sheet for Parents - An Overview of the IEP - What to Know About Your Child’s IEP and How It Is Developed
This tip sheet from PROGRESS Center reviews the elements of the individualized education program (IEP) and the IEP development process.
Categories: IEP
ecac_IEP_NewLayout_04202022_rev (1) (2)
IEP Checklist
Check out these tips to prepare for your next IEP meeting!
Categories: Advocacy, IEP, Special Education
Secondary Transition in North Carolina
WAZE to Adulthood: Secondary Transition in North Carolina
Learn about transition planning and services in North Carolina!
Categories: IEP, Special Education, Transition to Adulthood, Transition-age Youth
Heading to High School Choosing a Course of Study
WAZE to Adulthood - Heading to High School: Choosing a Course of Study
Learn about choosing a high school course of study!
Categories: IEP, Special Education, Transition to Adulthood, Transition-age Youth
parent guide Glossary and Acronyms SPA Final
Categories: IDEA, IEP, Parent Rights, Spanish, Special Education
image of a row of young children reading books
Guía para padres sobre la educación especial en Carolina del Norte
La Guía se centra en la ley federal de educación especial conocida como Ley de Educación para Individuos con Discapacidades (IDEA, por sus siglas en inglés), que garantiza a todos los niños con discapacidades una "educación pública, gratuita y apropiada".
Categories: IDEA, IEP, Parent Rights, Spanish, Special Education
front page of ECAC's SLD Fact Sheet
Specific Learning Disability Evaluation and Identification in North Carolina Fact Sheet
This document is intended to answer some questions that a parent/guardian might have about Specific Learning Disability, the identification process, and what this means for the parent and their child.
Categories: IDEA, IEP, Learning Disability, Special Education
Cover page of the NC Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities
Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities - March 2021
Policies written by the NC Department of Public Instruction outlining how NC schools will implement NC Special Education Law which is based on IDEA.
Categories: IDEA, IEP, Parent Rights, Special Education
Image of the first page of the Student Led IEP Request form
Student Led IEP Request
This fillable document helps students with disabilities request a leadership role in their next IEP meeting and to specify which parts of the IEP meeting they would like to lead.
Categories: Communication, IEP, Special Education, Transition-age Youth
Image of NICHY Parent's Guide to Communicating With Your Child's School Through Letter Writing first page
A Parent's Guide: Communicating With Your Child's School Through Letter Writing
Resource document by the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities that provides special education basics, tips for letter writing and sample letters to help parent's better communicate with their child's school.
Categories: 504, Advocacy, Communication, Family Engagement, IEP, Parent Rights, Special Education
image of road signs and text that says iep mapa de la travesia para las familias
IEP MAPA DE LA TRAVESÍA - Para las familias
IEP MAPA DE LA TRAVESÍA - Para las familias
Categories: IEP, Spanish, Special Education
Image of infused skills grid
Infused Skills Grid
Like all students, students who experience disabilities need to learn many types of ‘skills’ in school. These include: habits of mind, basic academic skills, other content areas and functional skills.
Categories: Accommodations, IEP, Special Education
image of Student Snapshot document
Student Snapshot
Classrooms are very busy and it often takes time for teachers and others to get to know and understand your son or daughter’s needs. ECAC Student Snapshot is a great way to share what you’ve learned about your child with teachers and other school staff and to communicate areas that might be of concern to you.
Categories: Communication, General, IEP
Lista de Verificación del IEP
Lista de verificación del Programa de Educación Individualizado.
Categories: Communication, IEP, Spanish, Special Education
image of student snapshot document
La Instantánea del Estudiant
Los salones de clase son lugares muy ajetreados donde todo pasa muy de prisa. Regularmente a los maestros y demás personal de la escuela, les lleva tiempo conocer y entender las necesidades especiales de su hijo. “La Instantánea del Estudiante” que ECAC ha preparado es una excelente forma de compartir con la escuela lo que a usted le ha tomado tiempo aprender de su hijo y le ayuda a comunicar al misno tiempo las áreas que le preocupan y en donde su niño pueda necesitar más ayuda.
Categories: Communication, IEP, Spanish
image of Infused Skills Grid
Cuadro para la Infusión de Habilidades
Al igual que todos los estudiantes, los niños que viven con discapacidades necesitan aprender diferentes tipos de habilidades en la escuela
Categories: IEP, Spanish
image of standards based IEP guide
A Step by Step Process to Creating Standards based IEPs
Before developing IEPs, all IEP team members, including parents, should become familiar with the general education curriculum, including the state’s academic content standards and the state testing program. In order to make informed decisions about appropriate annual goals, supports and special education needs, the IEP team should consider how your child is performing as compared to the state’s academic content standards for the grade that your child is in.
Categories: IEP, Special Education
¡Describiendo el Panorama GENERAL!
Los niños se benefician cuando los adultos que forman parte de sus vidas son capaces de observar y describir la mejor parte de ellos o de apreciar lo que es fundamental en su persona.
Categories: Communication, General, IEP, Spanish
Road signs that say IEP Road Map for Families with ecac logo
IEP Road Map for Families
A guide featuring the North Carolina IEP forms and useful tips for parents along the way.
Categories: IEP, Special Education, Transition to Adulthood
Image of children reading with text that says A Parents’ Guide to Special Education in North Carolina
A Parents’ Guide to Special Education in North Carolina
The focus of this Parent Guide from Children’s Law Clinic -Duke Law School, is the federal special education law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that promises each child with a disability a “free, appropriate, public education.”
Categories: General, Communication, IEP, Conflict Resolution, Special Education
Regreso a la Escuela
Regreso a la Escuela
Una Guía de Planificación para las Familias de Carolina del Norte con Estudiantes con Discapacidad
Categories: IEP, Spanish, Special Education, Remote Learning
Image of backpack with text that reads Return to School Planning Guide
Return to School Planning Guide
A Planning Guide for North Carolina Families Who Have a Student with a Disability
Categories: IEP, Special Education, Remote Learning
If a Student has Difficulty
If Student has Difficulty….Then Try This!
A great tool full of suggested accommodations for specific areas of difficulty.
Categories: 504, Accommodations, IEP, Special Education
Sample Accommodations
Sample Accommodations
This document provides Environmental, Behavioral, Organizational Strategies and more!
Categories: 504, Accommodations, IEP, Special Education
Accommodations to Consider
Accommodations to Consider for Students with Problems in Organization
Note the student’s response to transition between activities. Is s/he disoriented, distracted, or overwhelmed visually or auditorally when moving or preparing for new activity? Is s/he agitated or anxious during the change? If so, consider these questions in addressing this difficulty.
Categories: 504, Accommodations, IEP, Special Education
Student Dream Sheet
Student Dream Sheet
Transition is a journey, begin NOW to plan for the trip. The Student Dream Sheet can help students set goals and share their interests and preferences.
Categories: Advocacy, IEP, Transitions, Transition-age Youth, Transition to Adulthood
Resource thumbnail - Questions parents can ask about math
Questions Parents Can Ask about Math Instruction
When your child struggles in math, you need specific information to help you encourage and support your child as they develop and build their math skills...
Categories: Family Engagement, Advocacy, IEP
Resource thumbnail - questions about spelling, writing, and testing—Spanish
Questions Parents Can Ask about Spelling, Writing, and Testing (Spanish)
Cuando a un niño se le dificulta la lectura, con frecuencia también se le dificulta la ortografía, escritura y las evaluaciones/exámenes...
Categories: Family Engagement, Advocacy, IEP, Spanish
Resource thumbnail - Questions parents can ask about reading - Spanish
Questions Parents Can Ask about Reading Improvement (Spanish)
􀁕reguntas que los padres pueden hacer… Recuerde: Siempre pida una explicación de todo lo que no entendió. Si usted es el padre de un niño al que se le dificulta la lectura, usted necesita información específica para apoyar el progreso de su hijo. Ya sea que asista a las conferencias entre padres y maestros...
Categories: Family Engagement, Advocacy, Literacy, IEP, Spanish

IEP tips to remember

  • EVERY child can learn and make progress.
  • The steps of the IEP Process must be followed in the correct order.
  • The “I” in IEP stands for individualized.  Your child’s IEP must reflect your child.
  • The IEP should be specific, detailed and easily understandable by anyone – even if someone who is not a member of the current IEP Team.
  • Special Education is NOT a place. Special Education is the supports and services your child receives through his or her IEP.
  • On the IEP, Placement is NOT a location. Placement is the amount of time spent with special education services.
  • Statements about your child’s Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance are critical parts of the IEP.  They must be crystal clear and accurate.
  • Goals need to be logical, measurable, and relevant to your child.
  • The IEP Team should work together to reach a consensus.  There is NO voting!
  • Stay focused!  Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Parents are the constant – providing continuity to an ever-changing IEP Team.
  • Lack of money and/or other resources does not exempt a school district from providing what a child needs.
  • Don’t leave the meeting without a copy of your child’s IEP!
  • Download a copy of ECAC’s IEP Checklist…and use it!