What To Include in an Individualized Education Program

As a special educator, IEPs are something that we have frequent contact with. Whether we are writing an IEP after an initial evaluation, re-evaluation, annual review, domain, updating goals and benchmarks, or reviewing accommodations and modifications, IEPs are legal documents that should be visited throughout our time with our learners. An IEP should not be reviewed only once. Using appropriate language that is both professional and family friendly is something that I have has to grow in and learn from many special educators. In this post, I will review all that I have learned over the last 13 years in education adn what has made me feel successful and my families feel supported. 

It is most important to develop an effective Individualized Education Program (IEP) along with carrying out that individualized education to a learner. Writing an IEP takes teamwork and collaboration. The details shared within an IEP are important to be accurate and understandable to be carried out by everyone on the educational team. The first part of the IEP is the present levels of performance section. This part of the IEP should provide evidence and information to support the needs for everything listed within the IEP. This section will include a summary of a learner’s academic skills within all environments throughout their school day and should indicate what level of prompting and supports the learner benefits from at this time. I am always sure to include information regarding math. literacy, social studies, science, music, art, and any other academic or pre-academic skills as appropriate. I am also sure to include interventions, strategies, and supports a learner benefits from to increase independence and success in these areas. This information should include skills a learner is able to demonstrate as well as age appropriate skills they may still need improvement on. 

The next section of an IEP will describe the learner’s functional performance. This section requires a narrative of the learner’s functional performance in all areas of their daily routines. Narratives should be clear and concrete, using professional language while also using language that families who may be new to an IEP can read and fully understand. The information provided should be based on observations and include information from everyone on the team. Some areas to think about and include while writing a narrative for functional performance are the current levels of independence or the amount of adult assistance required through a learner’s:

  • Social/emotional
  • Social skills
  • Arrival/dismissal routines
  • Language/communication
  • Bathrooming
  • Handwashing
  • Meal times
  • Transitions
  • Work with teacher
  • Independent work stations
  • Specials classes
The next section is accommodations and modifications and it is important to identify all of the service types, accommodations and supports for everyone who works with a learner. I also have a blog post on how to recognize the difference between accommodations and modifications here. The accommodations and modifications section increases the fidelity of an IEP and increases the success for a learner. Information provided in the present level of performance and the goals should line up with the needs of a learner in this section. An example would be that if a learner has an individual picture schedule in their accommodations, that may be too restrictive if the present level of performances states that they transition with a class independently following the natural cues or endings to an activity.
The key to any successful IEP development is communication between all members of a learner’s educational team. IEPs are so important to an eligible learner’s schooling success. Everything that is included in an IEP; from goals, assessments, accommodations and modifications, progress monitoring, to the information presented in the present levels; works together to create an individual program while ensuring access to the general education environment. After an IEP is written and agreed upon at an IEP meeting, that is now the legal document for a learner’s education and must be put in place. My team and I gather materials and make bins and IEP kits so that anything we would need to support a learner and work on their IEP goals is available and ready for teaching and generalization trials. 


  1. Hi Heather, could you please share the names of your photographed resources?

    Particularly the shapes resource and 5 reading foundations.

    Thank you

    • Hello! Thank you so much for reading! The Foundational Five resource is from The Autism Helper’s Runway to Reading course (https://theautismhelper.com/courses/literacy-course/) and the shapes are from the math book from a kindergarten math program.


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