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What should be in an IEP?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & Justice Center of Southeastern Massachusetts
Created February, 2022

An IEP is as “Individualized Education Program.” The IEP lists the instruction, services, support, and accommodations your child needs to learn and make "effective progress".

The School must provide the services the IEP describes. The school can only follow the plan if you sign the document and accept the services.

The IEP describes:

  • how your child learns, and,
  • how the team measures your child’s progress.       

The IEP should list your child’s:

  • current abilities,
  • needs, and
  • learning goals for the next 12 months.

Your child’s IEP Team writes the IEP. The IEP team is:

  • Your child’s parent or guardian,
  •  A representative of the School District who has the power to approve special education resources for your child,
  • At least one special education teacher,
  • At least one general education teacher,
  • A professional, qualified to interpret evaluation results,
  • Other people like service providers who may have information about your child. For example, a speech language pathologist or a school adjustment counselor.
  • Your child: Your child must be invited to the team if they are 14 years old or older. They do not have to attend meetings if they do not want to. If they do not want to attend, they have other ways to share their concerns and opinions.  For example, they can write a note to the team, or share their thoughts with a parent or therapist to share for them.


You may invite anyone you would like to attend a Team Meeting.

If you do not speak English as your primary language, the school should provide an interpreter for the IEP Team Meeting.

The IEP has seven sections. 

  1. Parent and/or Student Concerns.
  2. Vision Statement.
  3. Present Levels of Performance.
  4. Measurable Annual Goals.
  5. Service Delivery Grid.
  6. Schedule Modification and
  7. Transportation.

See a blank IEP form.

1.Parent and/or Student Concerns

Parent and/or Student Concerns is the first section of the IEP.  It lists concerns that you, your child, or both of you have about your child's development and hopes for their future learning. 

This section can include your concerns about your child’s:

  • Academics,
  • Non-academic things like their behavior at home,
  • Social development,
  • Emotional development,
  • Behavior, or
  • Life skills, in school, at home, or in their community.

 At the Team meeting, tell the team your concerns about your child and your hopes for their learning and their future. The school should write your concerns in the IEP. You can also give a written statement to the school to put in the IEP.

Your child’s concerns, fears, and dreams should also be written into the IEP. If your child is 14 or older their input is especially important. 


Remember you are an equal Team member. As a part of the Team, you and your child have important things to say about all parts of the IEP, not just the Parent and/or Student Concerns section. 

2.Vision Statement

The Vision Statement section of the IEP lists plans for your child’s future. When your child turns 14, this section should include plans for your child’s whole life. It should include plans for your child’s life as an adult. Your child’s ability to work, have relationships, and be part of the community should be part of the IEP. It is important that the IEP includes your child’s own vision, for themselves. As your child gets older their vision for themselves becomes more and more important.

3.Present Levels of Performance

 “Present Levels of Performance” is the section that should describe how your child’s disability affects them and the accommodations or specially designed instruction they need.

The description of how your child’s disability affects them should include the effects of their disability on:

  • their schoolwork and
  • other educational areas, like:
    • their social and emotional needs,
    • their behavior, and
    • their ability to communicate.

4.Measurable Annual Goals

Measurable annual goals are the goals the team expects your child to achieve in a year. These goals are based on the things your child can do right now, your child's "current performance levels."

Under each goal, the IEP lists the ways you will know if your child is meeting the goal. These are called “benchmarks.”  The benchmarks must be measurable. Measurable means that you can count or observe the progress a student is making.

5.Service Delivery Grid

The Service Delivery Grid in the IEP lists the services the school will give your child, and the amount of time each week they will get those services. The Service Delivery Grid, includes any specialists, like special education teachers or counselors, who will be working with your child. 

The grid shows where your child will be getting the services. Your child may get some services in the classroom when they are in class with their peers. They may also go somewhere else for other services, a school's resource room, the gym, or sometimes, services may even be provided at home.

The grid is broken into three sections, Grid A, Grid B, and Grid C.

Grid A

Grid A lists “consultation services,” for the parent or school staff, not the student.

Some examples of the consultation services you might see in Grid A are:

  • a consultation service for the speech-language pathologist to meet with your child’s teacher for 30 minutes per week, or
  • a consultation service for the school’s behaviorist to teach you strategies to use at home.

Grid B

Grid B lists the special education and services your child gets in general education classroom, or the classroom where most students learn. These services are “push-in” services.

An example of a push-in service you might see in Grid B is 30 minutes of special education reading instruction each week in the general education classroom. This means that a special education teacher will go into your child’s general education classroom to teach them in a small group.

Grid C

Grid C lists the special education and services your child gets outside the general education classroom. These are “pull-out” services.

For example, a special education teacher may pull your child out of the general education classroom to work with them on reading. If your child is placed in a “substantially separate classroom,” most of your child’s special education and services will be listed on Grid C.


6.Schedule Modification

The Schedule Modification section of the IEP lists changes to the normal school day and school year if your child needs a shorter school day or a longer school day, or a shorter school year or a longer school year. You will see these changes in the Schedule Modification section of their IEP.

If your child gets summer special education services or “Extended School Year” (ESY) you will find it in this section.


Your child should get ESY services if they :

  • would lose more skills over the summer than a typical student would lose, and
  • it will take them more time to get the skills back.


The Transportation section of the IEP describes how your child will get to school.  It says your child will have regular or special transportation to school. For example, your child’s IEP might say “special door-to-door transportation” with a “bus monitor.”


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