What should my child’s IEP include?

Current Performance

An IEP form starts with the student’s current level of performance at school. This will of course include academic performance like test results and grades, but goes well beyond that to include behavioral challenges, social skills, communication abilities, learning styles and sensory or motor skill development. All of this information will come from assessments and observations by members of the team.

Clearly defining your child’s current strengths and challenges will help build the foundation of a successful education plan that will allow your child to thrive to the best of his abilities inside and outside the classroom.

Measurable Goals

Together the IEP team will define goals for your child. It is critical that the goals are meaningful and measurable – they are essentially what is driving his education process.

If they are not meaningful, all of the resources and supports the team is putting in place to accomplish them will not be efficiently utilized. If they are not measurable, it will be difficult to monitor how your child is doing in school closely and productively.

Meaningful and measurable goals make for an effective IEP and a successful IEP process. The goals will be both academic and functional.

Each of the goals must include information about how and when progress toward that specific goal will be measured. The IEP should make very clear how you or anyone on the team can monitor how well your child is doing in the area of each goal.

Recommended Supports and Services

The IEP will clearly lay out all of the supports and services your child will receive at school in order to reach the stated goals. This includes recommended special education programs and related services (such as speech therapy or psychological counseling), as well as the specific accommodations or modifications that will be made to support your education plan (such as testing modifications, special seating or interpreter services).

In addition to an explanation of each service/support, the IEP will include information about the frequency, duration, location and start date of these extra resources so the team is aware not just of the services being provided, but of where, when and how they are provided.

Transition Services

When your child reaches middle school years, it is important that the IEP team work out a comprehensive plan for his transition to adulthood.

Services to support the individual plan should begin in the early to mid-teen years so the student is as prepared as possible for life after school ends. Much like the rest of the IEP, the transition plan should be very unique to the student’s individual strengths, challenges, needs and wants for his future.


IEP forms vary by state, but most IEP forms also include:

  • An explanation of the extent to which your child will be removed from his peers (to ensure your child is in the “least restrictive environment,” as mandated by IDEA)
  • An explanation of your child’s exemption from statewide assessments and a list of alternative assessments that will be used, if applicable
  • Specific sections about supports related to transportation needs, assistive technology requirements, extended school year services eligibility, etc.
Photo of a child, boy, standing in front of a home folding a present

Questions to consider in developing IEP


  • Should my child be in a mainstream or special education class? Both?
  • Should he be partially or fully mainstreamed?
  • What transition plan should be in place for mainstreaming?
  • What type of special education class would be ideal?
  • If special education is appropriate, what are the educational classifications and cognitive and maturity levels of fellow classmates?
  • How many other students should be in the classroom?
  • How old should the other students be? What range of skill level should they have?
  • What extra-curricular activities should be available?
  • What type of classroom or behavioral or teaching support(s) and accommodations does my child need to be supported in the least restrictive environment?

Class Content

  • What specific topics do I want in the curriculum? What don’t I want?
  • Are there specific known programs that would work for my child?
  • Will my child take any statewide assessment exams? What accommodations will be necessary?
VIDEO: What are speech & language services on my child's IEP?

Related Services

What specific support services does my child need?

  • Transportation
  • Assistive (augmentative) technology and consultative support
  • Speech and language services
  • Psychological or mental health support
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Corrective services
  • Artistic services, art therapy
  • Music or dance therapy
  • After school or weekend services
  • School social work services
  • Recreational support
  • Safety training

Transition Services

What services/supports does my child need now to be ready to (consider if appropriate):

  • Live on his own?
  • Go on to higher education?
  • Work?
  • Participate in the community?
VIDEO: Topics to remember when developing an IEP

More About Goals

There are several key questions to keep in mind as you and the IEP team develop and monitor goals for your child’s education:

  • Is this goal meaningful?
  • Is this goal specific?
  • Is this goal easy to measure?
  • Is this goal based on my child’s strengths and/or interests?
  • Will progress toward this goal positively impact my child’s future?
  • How/when will I monitor my child’s progress toward this goal?
  • Do my goals include both academic and functional objectives?
VIDEO: How do I stay on top of my child's progress?

Below are examples of IEP goals for students with autism:




Student will request needed item to complete a work activity when given the visual directions using his communication device "talker" starting DATE, with SLP support, with a baseline of 50%, and with a target of 80% completed by DATE.




After being read aloud a short story, student will sequence events of the story using picture cards in 5/5 opportunities by DATE.




Student will write his first name and last name with verbal cue, "What is your name" and gestural prompts pointing to paper when he stops in order to focus attention, starting DATE, with cues, with a baseline of 45%, and with a target of 70% completed by DATE.


Functional Math


When given a choice of two or more items and told “give one more”, student will indicate quantity of one by choosing one item with 80% accuracy 3 out of 5 trials by DATE with a target of 100% by DATE.


Social Skills


Student will initiate a conversation with 2 different peers when provided with a verbal prompt across three consecutive school days by DATE.


Community Skills - Safety


Student will remain in line with class when navigating outside of the classroom without eloping with a target of 65%, with cues, by DATE and 100%, without cues, by DATE.




Student will match pictures to words and words to pictures for a minimum of 12 new functional vocabulary words in 4/5 recorded opportunities by DATE.


Work Readiness


At the work site, student will demonstrate appropriate communication with coworkers and employer on 3/4 work days as measured by conversations with employees by DATE.

Next Section: Changing an IEP