The Secret To Getting The Best IEP Ever! (And it’s as simple as connecting the dots.)

The Secret To Getting The Best IEP Ever! (And it’s as simple as connecting the dots.)

Does the idea of helping to create an IEP overwhelm you and leave you feeling like you don’t have anything to offer to the team? Do you end up leaving the IEP meeting feeling like what was created doesn’t represent your child or is enough to meet their needs?

Not long ago, I met with a family who had had just finished their sons second IEP and they were feeling confused and upset. They felt like they weren’t heard at the IEP but ultimately what was most upsetting to them was that they didn’t feel like they had enough knowledge to even know if what was created for their child was what he needed.

They felt they were failing their son because they just didn’t know enough to make sure they were doing what they needed for their son. That’s a terrible feeling.

Well- the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way!  What if I told you that all you have to do is connect the dots to assure your child has an IEP that meets all of his/her needs? (Hopefully, you’ll say, “a simple connect the dots, I can handle that!) 🙂

So let’s start at the beginning where all good connect the dots start!  (Grab the Connect The Dots PowerSheet to keep you on track.)


The present levels statement is developed by considering the areas of development in which a child with a disability may need support. These are roughly divided into two areas of development: academic and functional.

Academic Development generally refers to a child’s performance in academic areas (e.g., reading or language arts, math,  science, and history).

Functional Development are generally skills that are not considered academic. Some examples of these skills could be; eating, social skills, behavior skills, communication skills, and mobility skills.

When all is said and done, the IEP team must talk about the impact of the child’s disability on his or her ability to learn and do the kinds of things that typical, nondisabled children learn and do. It is NOT the IEP teams job to assure that every child is able to fully experience (in the same way) that nondisabled children experience schooling, however, it is their job to make sure that all children access the learning environment to the maximum extent possible!


The goals should always be developed based on the deficits noted in the present level of performance section of the IEP.

Power Rule! If there is a deficit noted in the present level portion of the IEP, there needs to be a goal in that area and if there is a goal, there needs to be a present level! (this is an easy way to remember what needs to be included in the IEP).

Just as present levels will be discussed and recorded in both academic and functional development areas, IEP goals should be developed in those areas as needed. IEP goals should be individualized for each student. No two students are alike~so no two goals should be alike! 

IEP goals need to be;


Include a baseline of where the student currently is performing

Specific in what skill they are focused on

Actionable and

Time specific

Goals are the heart and soul of an IEP! People tend to focus on the services, but the goal is what is going to be taught and what a student is expected to learn!


Accommodations change how a student learns the material. A modification changes what a student is taught or expected to learn.

Examples of Accommodations are;

  1. extra time to complete the assignment
  2. doing every other math problem (as long as all standards are covered)
  3. movement breaks
  4. ability to type assignments

Examples of Modifications are;

  1. below grade level assignments (that cut out critical standards)
  2. Use of alternative curriculum
  3. Use of notes and textbook for all tests

Power Rule! Accommodations help a student while they are learning the skill deficits identified in the present levels and goals. These are the supports that educators provide for students WHILE they are learning the skill. 


By definition, special education is “specially designed instruction”

(3) Specially designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction;

  • To address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and
  • To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum,
  • so that the child can meet the educational standards

Other services that may be recommended by the IEP team could be (but not limited to);

  1. Speech and Language
  2. Occupational Therapy
  3. Counseling
  4. Behavior Supports
  5. Physical Therapy

There you go! I told you connecting the dots would be easy! Grab the Connecting the Dots PowerSheet to take this information and connect the dots for your own child’s IEP!

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Brandie Rosen

Brandie Rosen Consulting






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