What is an IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program.

It's a legal contract between you and the school that describes the specialized instruction and support that the school will give your child.

If your child qualifies for Special Education, you will work with a team at the school to create an IEP.

What does an IEP include? Image of a stack of ruled paper labelled IEP

  • Which specialized services your child will getImage of a checklist on a clipboard

  • How often they will get them Image of a schoolbus

  • What school or program your child will be in Image of a calender

  • How often or if they will be out of the regular classroom

  • If they will get transportation to and from the school or program

  • If  they will get Extended School Year Services 

Extended Year Services (EYS) means that your child will get some services through the summer. An IEP should provide this when a child is likely to lose progress during summer vacation.

What kind of specialized services might be in the IEP?

Here are some examples:

  • One-on-one or group sessions with learning specialists 

  • A special education teacher working with your child and others in the classroom

  • Therapies like speech, occupational therapy (OT) or physical therapy (PT)

  • A plan to help with behavior issues

  • Counseling for coping with social or emotional issues

  • Help with special devices or equipment a child may need

  • Programs or classes to help prepare for getting a job or applying to college

You and the rest of the school team will develop a specific plan that describes the services your child needs. Remember, these are just some examples!

What happens next?

  • You and the school will create an IEP team and have a meeting

  • You and the rest of the team will decide together what services your child should get

Click the box below to learn more about IEPs:

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program.

It's a legal contract between you and the school that describes specialized instruction and support that the school will give your child.


There is a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This gives children with disabilities the right to an education that meets their unique needs. So if a child needs special help in order to learn at school, the school system has to give them extra services.

An Individualized Education Program, or IEP, is a document that describes these extra services under IDEA that the school agrees to give your child to help them meet their educational needs. It is a legal contract between you and the school.

How it works:

You the parent, and the rest of the IEP Team work together to define your child's goals and develop a unique plan to help address and achieve these goals.

What kinds of services might be in the IEP? 

  • Extra learning help from a special educator

  • Therapies like speech, or occupational therapy (OT) to help your child with specific skills

  • School counseling, to help your child cope with their challenges

These services may be called Special Education services or Exceptional Student Services (ESS).

Image of an exclamation markDon't be scared by the term Special Education! It only means that your child will get special services to help them learn in school. It does not mean they are any less smart than others, just that they need some support at this time. 

See the Special Education Guide to learn more about the IEP. We will walk you through the whole process of the evaluation and setting up the IEP with the Team at school. (Go to Topics & Guides at the top of your screen.)