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Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

The Individual Education Plan, commonly known as an IEP, is the school's written plan of action for students with special education needs.  An IEP is a written plan describing the special education program and/or services required by a particular student.

The IEP identifies learning expectations that are different from the expectation for each grade, subject or class as outlined in the standard curriculum.  The IEP also identifies any accommodations and special education services that are needed to help student achieve his or her learning expectations.

According to the Ministry of Education and Training, the IEP is a working document that describes

  • the strengths and needs of an individual exceptional pupil
  • the special education program and services established to meet that pupil's needs
  • how the program and services will be delivered
  • how the student's progress will be measured

The IEP is not a daily lesson plan describing everything that will be taught to the student.

The IEP should be updated periodically to record any changes in the student’s special education program, and services provided for the student.  Any changes to the programs or services provided to a student will be based on the on-going assessment and evaluation of the student’s achievement of annual goals and learning expectations.

The IEP reflects the commitment of the school board and the principal to provide special education programming and services that are needed to meet the education goals of the student.

It is expected that parents and students will be included in the process of developing the IEP.

A copy of this document must be provided to the parents or guardian of a student (and the student if 16 or over).

Ministry Standards for the Development of IEPs

In 2000, the Ministry of Education released a document that sets provincial standards for the development and implementation of Individual Education Plans.

Standards for the Development and Implementation of Individual Education Plans (2000) – Ministry of Education, Ontario

The principal of your child’s school is responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements described in this document for the development and implementation of your child’s Individual Education Plan.


Who Needs an IEP?

An IEP must be prepared for all students that have been identified as “exceptional” by an IPR Committee.  After the IPR Committee has made its placement decision, they will notify the principal of the school at which the child will be placed.  The principal is responsible for ensuring that the IEP is prepared and carried out.

Parents may request that an IEP for their child even if they have not gone through the IPR Committee process, or the school may suggest that parents or guardians of children with special education needs develop an IEP without the prerequisite of an IPRC.  However, the written decision of the IPRC is the only guarantee that your child will receive the services he or she requires.  It is therefore not advisable to develop an IEP without going through the IPR Committee process.

Parents and teachers may begin work on the development of the IEP prior to the IPR Committee meeting.

What are the Steps in Developing an IEP?

The development of the IEP involves five steps:

  • Gathering Information
  • Setting the Direction
  • Developing the plan
  • Implementing the plan
  • Reviewing and updating the plan

The Individual Education Plan Resource Guide (2004)-Ontario Ministry of Education

Transition Plans

For students 14 years of age or older, the education team is required to include in the IEP a Transition Plan for post-secondary employment, education, and/or housing.

A transition plan may also be developed for students who may experience difficulty making the transition from one grade level or course to another, or from one school or school board to another.

The transition plan should specify the student's specific transition goals, the actions required to achieve these goals, the partners in the transition plan and their responsibilities.  A Transition Plan is not required in the case of gifted students.

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