ERIC Identifier: ED434434
Publication Date: 1999-08-00
Author: Warger, Cynthia
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Disabilities and Gifted Education Reston VA.
New IDEA '97 Requirements: Factors To Consider in Developing an
IEP. ERIC Digest E578.
Developing an individualized education program (IEP) is at the heart of
providing a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with
disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The
1997 amendments to IDEA call for several changes in the IEP development process.
One of these changes requires the IEP team to consider a specific set of topics,
and to make statements in the IEP related to these considerations.
At a minimum, an IEP, which must be developed for each child who qualifies
for special education services, must contain information regarding [300.347]:
*Present levels of student performance, including a statement of how the
disability affects the student's involvement and progress in the general
*Measurable annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives.
*A statement of educational needs resulting from the child's disability.
*A statement of all needed services and supports, including special
education, related services, and program modifications and supports for school
*Extent of nonparticipation with nondisabled students.
*Modifications needed for participation in state-wide or district-wide
assessments; or if it is determined that the child cannot participate, why the
assessment is inappropriate for the child and how the child will be assessed.
*Transition needs for students age 14 and older.
The 1997 reauthorization of IDEA included a new provision detailing what the
IEP team must consider in developing each child's IEP. All IEP teams now must
consider the strengths of the child, the parents' concerns for enhancing their
child's education, and the results of the initial evaluation or most recent
evaluation of the child when planning the IEP. Documentation of this
consideration is encouraged, as it most likely will become required for all of
the states and districts.
In addition, there are special factors for consideration that may apply to an
individual child. These items also must be considered when the IEP is reviewed
and revised [300.346(b)]. If, in considering these factors, the IEP team
determines that a child needs a particular device or service (including an
intervention, accommodation, or other program modification) in order to receive
a free, appropriate public education, the IEP team must include a statement to
that effect in the child's IEP. This digest provides an overview of these
CONSIDER THE CHILD'S BEHAVIOR
If a child's behavior impedes
his or her own learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the
strategies, including positive behavior intervention, and supports needed to
address that behavior. It must be shown in the IEP that inappropriate conduct
has been dealt with programmatically, and not just punitively.
In determining if behavior is an issue for a child, the IEP team may ask the
*Does the student need to learn and/or use new behaviors, skills, and/or
*Does the student demonstrate behaviors that are unsafe and/or that
significantly interfere with the learning environment?
*Does the student's current presenting behavior require a behavior
*Is the student routinely removed from the general education classroom
because of inappropriate behavior?
*Is the student's behavior related to, or a manifestation of, a disability?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the team will need to
ascertain a present level of educational performance in the affected area(s).
Using that information, the team will then develop annual goals and short-term
objectives or benchmarks, and state these needs, goals, and objectives on the
It is important to note that whenever a student's behavior impedes his or her
own learning or that of others, and whenever discipline occurs beyond 10 days of
suspension, functional assessment of behavior must be conducted and a behavioral
plan developed. If this has previously been done and included in the IEP, then
the team must reevaluate and/or revise the plan. Beyond 10 days of suspension,
educational services must be provided to the child. If the child possesses a gun
or illegal drugs at school, he or she may be placed in an alternative setting
for the same amount of time that a child without a disability would be subject
to discipline [300.520].
CONSIDER THE CHILD'S LANGUAGE NEEDS
A child may not be
identified as disabled solely because English is his or her second language.
However, a child with limited English proficiency also may have special learning
needs related to that status. If a child has limited English proficiency, the
language needs of the child as they relate to the IEP must be considered.
In determining if language is an issue for a child with limited English
proficiency, the IEP team may ask the following questions:
*Does the student's level of English language proficiency affect special
education and related services needed by the student? If so, how and to what
*Will the special education and related services needed by the student be
provided in a language other than English?
CONSIDER THE CHILD'S NEED FOR BRAILLE
If a child is blind
or visually impaired, IDEA '97 now requires the IEP team to consider provision
of instruction in Braille or the use of Braille--unless the IEP team determines
that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the
child. IEP teams are expected to evaluate:
*The student's reading and writing skills.
*The student's needs.
*Appropriate reading and writing media for the student.
*The student's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille.
In determining if the child requires instruction in and the use of Braille,
the IEP team may ask the following questions:
*If instruction in and use of Braille is provided to the child, will the
instruction and use be sufficient in length, frequency, and duration for the
student to develop appropriate literacy skills?
*How will Braille be integrated into all curriculum areas and assessment
*Is instruction in and/or the use of Braille inappropriate for the student?
If so, why is it inappropriate?
If the IEP team determines that the child requires instruction in Braille and
the use of Braille, team members must develop a statement of the student's
present level of educational performance, annual goals, and benchmarks or
short-term objectives in the appropriate areas.
CONSIDER THE CHILD'S COMMUNICATION NEEDS
The IEP team must
consider the student's communication needs. Also, if a child is deaf or hard or
hearing, the IEP team must consider the child's language and communication
needs, as well as opportunities for direct communications with peers and
professional personnel in the child's language and communication mode, academic
level, and full range of needs. This includes opportunities for direct
instruction in the child's language and communication mode.
In determining if the child's communication needs, the IEP team may ask the
*What are the communicative demands, opportunities, and needs of the child?
*Does the student have the needed skills and strategies to meet the
communicative demands and fulfill his or her needs across relevant contexts?
*Does the student communicate appropriately and effectively given the
If the IEP team determines that the child has communication needs, team
members must develop a present level of educational performance, annual goals,
and benchmarks or short-term objectives in the appropriate areas.
CONSIDER ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
The IEP must consider whether
the child requires assistive technology devices and services in order to meet
his or her educational goals and access the general education curriculum.
An assistive technology device is broadly defined in IDEA '97 as any piece of
equipment or product system, whether commercially off the shelf or customized,
that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a
child with a disability. An assistive technology service means any service that
directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use
of an assistive technology device.
In determining if the child requires assistive technology devices and/or
services, the IEP team may ask the following questions:
*Does the student need technology in order to perform fundamental functions,
such as communication or mobility?
*What technology devices and/or services may help the student achieve his or
her annual goals?
If the IEP team determines that the child requires an assistive technology
device and/or service, team members must develop a present level of educational
performance, annual goals, and benchmarks or short-term objectives in the
appropriate areas and state them on the IEP. If the child needs to use the
device at home in order to receive a free, appropriate public education, the
child must be permitted to use the device at home or in other settings at no
cost to the parents.
The following references are excellent resources for developing IEPs.
Bateman, B.D., & Linden, M.A. (1998). Better
IEPs: How to develop legally correct and educationally useful programs (third
edition). Longmont, CO: Sopris West. 1-800-547-6747.
The Council for Exceptional Children (1999). IEP Team Guide. Reston, VA:
The Council for Exceptional Children (1998). IDEA 1997: Let's make it work!
Reston, VA: Author. 1-888-232-7733.
The Technology and Media Division/Council of Administrators of Special
Education, Council for Exceptional Children (1998). Assistive technology in
special education practice: Policy and practice. Reston, VA: Author.
The Technology and Media Division/Council of Administrators of Special
Education, Council for Exceptional Children (1997). Has technology been
considered? A guide for IEP teams. Reston, VA: Author. 1-888-232-7733.