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What is an IEP?

Many do not understand the necessity and importance of an individualized education program (IEP).  IEPs are designed to allow the school and parents to work together to identify necessary accommodations and set specific goals for each student in need.

What is an IEP?

The IEP is exactly what the name implies. It is an individualized education program that admits to past philosophical errors incorporated in the warehouse concept of education where one size fits all. Every student that receives special education services has an IEP. The program recognizes that all humans learn at a different rate. Thus, learning packages are geared to the needs of those students to prepare them to be an active member of any community. Examples of accommodations made within an IEP include additional time to complete a task or possibly five years to complete a four-year segment of their education. Other accommodations include having a designated reader or allowing the student to take tests in a different setting with few distractions. Students who have a physical disorder such as dyslexia are provided extra training. Others with autism or down syndrome may experience added technological advances provided by the schools to enable them to understand the concepts of mathematics and writing.

History of the IEP

IEPs were first introduced into the school system in 1975. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guaranteed rights to individuals with disabilities and required educational accommodations be made for those in need. The Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EHA) was enacted in 1975 which guaranteed all children with special needs have access to free education. In 1997 the EHA was amended and became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which reinforced the need for IEPs for all special education students. The IDEA encourages parents to take an active role in the development and annual review of their child’s IEP. Parents are allowed to participate in any meetings regarding their child and have a voice regarding placement decisions.

The Changes

Several changes occurred as the result of the introduction of IEP into the educational system. According to Special Education News, schools began providing special education services geared to the individual to students in need of additional educational support. Students with special needs were placed into a program tailored to their needs. The principal inhibitor to the new system was the acceptance of extra attention applied to these students by their fellow students, and, by extension, their parents. The success of the program depended largely on the willingness of the community to accept the role of the individual within itself the neighborhood as a social responsibility for each of its members.

Related Resource: Top 5 Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

IEPs have been shown to have a positive impact on the educational experience of special needs or at-risk students. The goal of an IEP is to improve overall educational results. While some may not feel individualized education plans are necessary, they have been proven effective in the educational system.