A Parent's Guide to the Individual Education Plan
The Peel District School Board offers a wide range of special education programs, services and supports. We recognize that children are more confident and successful in school when we support their learning in a variety of ways.
The Ministry of Education requires that every student who has been identified by an IPRC as exceptional must have an individual education plan—or IEP. A student who requires special education programs or services to be successful in school, but who has not been identified as exceptional, may also have an IEP.
This brochure will help you understand the IEP and how we use it to support your child’s learning.
Why does your child need an IEP?
If your child has been identified as exceptional, it means that he or she has special learning needs and will benefit from special education programs or services.
The IEP supports your child’s learning in the following ways:
What is an IEP?
- helps teachers understand your child's interests, strengths and needs
- provides a tool for sharing information about your child
- describes educational goals for your child to pursue
- identifies types and levels of support necessary to help your child be successful
- helps teachers track and evaluate your child's growth and learning progress
- encourages open and ongoing communication between you and the school
- ensures continuity in your child's educational programming
- ensures educational goals are appropriate and measurable
The IEP describes your child's learning strengths and needs. It also identifies specific learning goals and tracks your child's progress towards achieving those goals. The plan also explains the special education services and teaching strategies the school will use to support your child’s learning.
The IEP helps the teachers monitor your child’s progress and report back to you and your child about that progress. The plan identifies the specific knowledge and skills that teachers will evaluate to assess your child's achievement of goals or learning expectations.
How is the IEP developed?
The principal is responsible for making sure that an IEP is developed for your child. The special education team within each school takes the lead role in writing the IEP. Your child’s teachers contribute to the plan. The team may also gather information from the following sources:
- guidance counsellors
- special education staff who have been involved in the prior stages of this process
- your child's Ontario Student Record
- previous IEPs
- representatives of community agencies or services
As a parent, you are crucial to the IEP process. The information you contribute is essential in helping the school understand your child’s personality, development, learning and preferences.
Your child’s involvement in developing and reviewing the IEP will vary. If your child is 16 years or older, he or she has the right to be consulted. In some cases, your child may participate in setting his or her educational goals. When students take an active role in the IEP process, they tend to assume greater responsibility for their own learning. Students are encouraged to monitor their own progress during the year and help set learning priorities, based on their interests and concerns.
The plan must be developed within 30 school days after your child starts in a special education program.
What will the IEP look like?
Each IEP has at least three pages:
- Page 1 is the information about your child.
- Page 2 is the list of the subjects/courses and formal assessments in your child’s records.
- Page 3 indicates the accommodations your child needs to be successful in the program. Only accommodations that are different than those used by other students in the class are listed. Page 3 also lists the accommodations that are allowed for provincial assessments.
There is a page 4 for every subject or program that is modified or alternative. The “baseline level of achievement” on page 4 for a modified program is your child’s mark from the report card the previous June. The “baseline level of achievement” for an alternative program is a brief statement summarizing how the student did in the same program during the previous school year.
The “annual program goal” outlined on each page 4 represents what the teacher expects your child can reasonably accomplish by the end of the school year in each area.
The learning expectations break down the annual goal into more specific goals that can be measured and assessed. The expectations listed reflect a sample of the full program the school will deliver.
The plan lists some specific teaching strategies that teachers will use to support the learning expectations. The plan does not list every strategy that will be used, only those specifically chosen, based on your child’s unique learning strengths and needs.
The plan also describes how your child’s learning may be measured or assessed.
What information is included in the IEP?
The IEP includes the following information:
- student information—school, student number, grade, date of birth
- exceptionality and placement
- reason for developing the IEP
- assessment data—most recent and relevant educational, medical, health, psychological, speech-language, occupational, physiotherapy or behavioural assessments
- areas of strength and need—identifying both your child's individual skills and learning style that contribute to his or her learning, along with areas where extra support and services may be neededsubjects, courses or programs to which the IEP applies—this could be just one or two subjects, courses or alternative programs or all the subjects in which your child is receiving instruction
- human resources—any instruction or support provided by a special education teacher, teaching assistant, social worker or other Peel board staff, how often and locations where support may occur
- instructional—for example, using concrete or hands-on materials for instruction or providing note-taking assistance
- environmental—for example, minimizing background noise or providing an alternative work space
- assessment—for example, providing more frequent breaks during tests or reducing the number of tasks used to assess a particular skill
- evaluation—reporting dates and format (the provincial report card or kindergarten report card)
- transition plan - a transition plan must be developed for all students who have an IEP, whether or not they have been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) and includes those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness.
- annual program goals, learning expectations, teaching strategies and assessment methods for each subject or course requiring modified or alternative expectations for the upcoming term or semester
- record of parent/student consultation and staff review/updating—when and how you are consulted in the development of your child's IEP and the outcome of these consultations
If your child requires accommodations only to learn and demonstrate learning, those accommodations do not alter the provincial curriculum expectations for the grade. Your child will be working towards regular grade expectations, and at the secondary level toward secondary school credits.
If your child requires modifications, it means that changes are made in the grade level expectations to meet his or her learning needs. It may mean that your child is working on skills required for a different grade level or that the number or complexity of regular grade level expectations may be decreased. At the secondary level, this may mean that some students are working towards a secondary school certificate rather than a diploma.
Alternative expectations or programs involve knowledge and skills that are not part of the regular Ontario curriculum. Examples include conflict resolution and social skills development. At secondary school, these are non-credit courses. Some students work towards a certificate of accomplishment rather than a secondary school diploma or certificate.
How does the school use the IEP?
Once the IEP is developed, it will be shared with parents, teachers and support staff and your child (if 16 years of age or older). The school will give you a copy of the IEP and ask you to sign it, acknowledging that you were consulted in its development and have received a copy. A copy will also be placed in your child's Ontario Student Record.
Your child's teachers and any support staff involved are responsible for implementing the programs and services outlined in the IEP. The teachers will use a variety of strategies to help your child learn, and they will make note of successful strategies in the IEP. Updating and changing strategies is part of the ongoing process.
How is the IEP updated and evaluated?
The IEP sets goals for one school year and is formally reviewed and updated annually. In addition, the school is evaluating and reviewing your child's progress continually throughout the year, monitoring the effectiveness of teaching strategies and accommodations. The IEP is revised on an ongoing basis, as needed. For example, new goals may need to be set if your child’s learning is going well, or expectations may need to be broken into smaller steps if learning is moving slower than expected.
How do I find out about my child's progress?
For most students, their progress will be reported on the report card. If your child requires alternative programming, progress will be reported by teacher's comments at the end of page 4 of the IEP for that program. For elementary students, page 4 for either modified or alternative programs will be sent home with the progress report and first term report card, with first term including the learning expectations for the next term. Page 4 of the IEP for alternative programs, accompanying the second term report card, contains progress reported by teacher’s comments, but does not contain learning expectations for the next term.
At secondary school, student achievement is reported on the alternative program pages in the IEP, which encompasses the report card.
Where can I get more information?
To find out more about the IEP:
About this parent guide
- talk with your child's teacher or principal
- contact the special education teacher at your child's school
- go to the Peel board website at www.peelschools.org/parents/specialed
- visit the Ontario Ministry of Education website at www.edu.gov.on.ca and click on elementary and secondary education, then follow the special education links
This brochure reflects the changes required by the Ministry of Education Individual Education Plans Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation, 2000 and The Individual Education Plan Resource Guide, 2004. It has been produced by Special Education Support Services, in co-operation with the Special Education Advisory Committee.
Special Education Advisory Committee
The Ministry of Education requires every school board to establish a Special Education Advisory Committee, with representatives from local parent associations and trustees.
These representatives serve as advocates for children and parents, and the associations have useful parent resources. To find meeting dates and the names and phone numbers of SEAC members, please phone 905-890-1010 (or 1-800-668-1146) ext. 2345, or visit www.peelschools.org/parents/specialed.
The following associations have representation on the Peel Board SEAC:
Association for Bright Children, Peel Chapter
Autism Ontario, Peel Chapter
Brampton Caledon Community Living
Canadian Mental Health Association/Peel Branch
FASworld Canada – Peel Chapter
Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada
Learning Disabilities Association of Peel Region
Peel Caring Network for Challenged Kids
Tourette Syndrome Association of Ontario
VIEWS for Blind and Visually Impaired Children
VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children