IEPs & 504 Plans

Cooking Up an IEP

Every IEP contains these key ingredients. Learn what your child’s special-education team means by “PLP” or “LRE,” and how to best approach each component of his accommodations plan.

An ADHD student makes a contract with their parents about school work.

PRESENT LEVELS OF PERFORMANCE (PLP): This is a summary that describes the student’s current achievement in the areas of need as determined by an evaluation, as well as progress toward goals. The PLP contains current specific, measurable, objective baseline information for each area of need affected by the disability. In addition, it links the evaluation results, the expectations of the general curriculum, and the goals for the student.

GOALS: These are descriptions of what a student can reasonably be expected to accomplish within a 12-month period with the provision of special education services. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable Results, Time-limited. Example: “Jane will write and edit a five-sentence paragraph that addresses a given subject twice a month. Each paragraph will include a topic sentence, at least four details, and a conclusion. She will earn a score of 75 percent or higher on a writing rubric for each writing assignment. There will be at least four writing assignments per quarter.”

BENCHMARKS AND OBJECTIVES: Benchmarks are major milestones that specify skill or performance levels a student needs to accomplish to reach his annual goal. Objectives are measurable, intermediate steps between a student’s PLP and the annual goals established for the student.

LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE): According to IDEA, IEPs should provide the least restrictive environment for a child to achieve his goals. LRE is an educational environment providing the greatest exposure to and interaction with general education students and persons without disabilities.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY (AT): Every IEP must consider technology programs, services, or devices that a student must have to be successful.

DESCRIPTION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES: This is used to outline the programs that were considered and the program that was ultimately chosen. It indicates the time, frequency, and any related services that the student needs, as well as the amounts of time these services will be provided. The amount of time and areas in which the student will be removed from the general education setting are also identified.

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