The Individual Education Program (IEP) is a written plan, designed just for one student. It is an agreement between the school and parents on how the student will be educated. Although the IEP is not as detailed as a teacher’s lesson plan, it must contain measurable annual goals in each area of need. The IEP states what special education and related services and supplemental aids and services the school will provide, and when and where those services will be provided. The IEP must consider and address the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the student. Services must be based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable.

All decisions in your child’s IEP must be individualized, which is why it is called an Individual Education Program. Individual means that the plan is made especially for him and is tailored to meet his needs. Your child’s special education needs are likely to be different from those of another student, even one with the same disability. His IEP should refect those differences and not be exactly the same as that of any other student.

When Is an IEP Required?

IDEA requires a student to have an IEP before he receives special education and related services. If a student needs to begin school before his evaluation is completed, a temporary IEP (usually called an interim IEP) can be developed and used while the evaluation is being completed.

If a special education student transfers from one Texas school district to another or from another state, the new school district must, in consultation with the parents, provide special education services comparable to those described in the IEP from the previous school until the new school: (for transfers from one Texas school to another) either adopts the IEP from the previous school or develops, adopts and implements a new IEP; or (for transfers from another state), the new school conducts its own full evaluation (if the new school district determines that a new evaluation is necessary) and develops, adopts and implements a new IEP, if appropriate. The new school must promptly request the child’s records and the previous school must promptly send the child’s records.

For children transitioning from a Part C program (ECI), the school should consider the student’s Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) and may use the IFSP as the IEP if agreed to by the school and the parents.

The content of this blog post was excerpted from IDEA Manual, A Guide for Parents and Students About Special Education Services in Texas, 2016 Edition, a joint project of The Arc of Texas and Disability Rights Texas.  You can download the IDEA manual at