How to Read an IEP

This is an as close to 50 state as we could make it, section by section guide to reading IEPs, from background to transition services!

Your Section by Section Guide to Reading IEPs

IEPs are confusing, legale-ese filled documents that vary in layout and phrasing from state to state and district to district. All IEPs, however, are guided by the same federal law (IDEA!) and have roughly the same content. We have pulled sample and blank IEPs from 45 different states to show you what each of the key sections of an IEP might look like– and provided guidance on how to read each section and what to look for. We make no guarantees that these IEPs will look exactly like what you see in a meeting– but this should give you some working knowledge, picture by picture and state by state, of how to read an IEP.

Background Information
What is it?

One thing that all IEPs have to have is some basic information about a student. That includes the student’s name, the school they attend, their parents’ names, the school they attend, their date of birth, and the IEP meeting date. In almost all IEPs, this cover page will also include the date of the last IEP and the date of the last evaluation. In many, it includes a check box for what type of IEP meeting you are having– an amendment, an annual, or a re-evaluation.

Where is it?

This is always on the front page of the IEP. I can’t find an IEP example where this isn’t true– it is normally right at the top of the front page.

What should I look for?

TBH, this is the boring stuff– sometimes parents will be asked to check and make sure their address is right but generally this is information to skim! However, if there is information on IEP dates, check to see if your meeting is on time or late– and when the next evaluation is. If you are in a district that puts a check box on the front page for the type of IEP, that can be sort of helpful to know. More so at the meeting than afterwards, but I am reaching because the background information is the least interesting part of an IEP!

How does it vary district to district?

Sometimes this section includes information on the type of IEP being held or on the date of the last evaluation. A few even include the disability statement here.

What does it look like?

IEPs on the left have been provided by states, districts, or advocacy groups as training IEPs and have been filled out. The IEPs in the middle and on the right are blank. Note that a particular district in a state might use a really different IEP format– these are just to give you a sense of what the IEP might look like.

Also, I was able to find blanks or demo IEPs from every state/region except D.C., Wisconsin, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, and Alabama. If you know of any blank or demo IEPs from those states, please email admin@spedhelper.org! And if you know of more current IEPs from any of these areas, that would be great. Some are pretty old!

Arizona

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Minnesota

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Hampshire

This IEP comes from the New Hampshire Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

Formidable

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Arkansas

This IEP comes from the Arkansas division of elementary and secondary education. See the full IEP here. 

Colorado

This IEP comes from the Colorado department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Connecticut

This IEP comes from the Connecticut department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Delaware

This IEP comes from the Delaware department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Florida

This Palm Beach IEP comes from the state’s guardian ad litem office. See the full IEP here. 

Georgia

This IEP comes from the Georgia department of education. See the full IEP here.

Iowa

This IEP comes from the Iowa department of education. See the full IEP here.

Kansas

This IEP comes from the Kansas Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Kentucky

This IEP comes from the Kentucky Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Maine

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Maryland

This IEP comes from the Maryland state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Massachusetts

This IEP comes from the Massachusetts department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Michigan

This IEP comes from the Macomb Intermediate School District. See the full IEP here. 

Montana

This IEP comes from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Nebraska

This IEP comes from the Nebraska Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Nevada

This IEP comes from the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. See the full IEP here. 

New Mexico

This IEP comes from the New Mexico Public Education Department. See the full IEP here. 

New York

This IEP comes from the Rochester City School District. See the full IEP here. 

North Dakota

This IEP comes from the North Dakota brain injury network. See the full IEP here. 

Ohio

This IEP comes from the educational service center of northeast Ohio. See the full IEP here. 

Oklahoma

This IEP comes from the Oklahoma state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Rhode Island

This IEP comes from the Rhode Island state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

South Dakota

This IEP comes from the South Dakota department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Texas

This IEP comes from the Texas education agency. See the full IEP here. 

Vermont

This IEP comes from the Vermont agency of education. See the full IEP here. 

Virginia

This IEP comes from the William and Mary school of education. See the full IEP here. 

West Virginia

This IEP comes from the West Virginia department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Wyoming

This IEP comes from the Wyoming department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Student Strengths
What is it?

Almost every IEP has a statement of student strengths. This is where the team lists what the student is good at. These can be short– they might be integrated with the present levels section.

For example, in the Tenessee sample IEP the strengths statement is, “Rocio is polite, respectful and gets along with her peers. She is willing to participate and take risks. She demonstrates motivation and following directions. When using manipulatives, Rocio enjoys math and is able to compute addition and subtraction problems and some multiplication problems.” In the Oregon sample IEP, the strengths reads, “X works hard and has strong academic abilities. He has a good memory and high comprehension skills. He is a kind and compassionate student toward his peers. He enjoys science topics such as animals and astronomy. “

Where is it?

In general, most IEPs are structured to start positively and so this section will come right after the background information and before the present levels of performance. If not, it will be bundled in with the present levels of performance where ever the district stuck them. One state put it in with each individual goal and another with concerns, but in general it is near the beginning of the IEP or with present levels.

What should I look for?

These sections should be ummmm…positive. Literally, this is the strengths section! You should read this and have a sense of who this student is as a human and what they enjoy and are good at. As a parent, you want to look and see if there is specificity here. Does the team know the student? As a teacher you want to know what content is there. If an academic area is there, then the student most likely doesn’t need help with it. If this section is pretty sketchy, assume that either the child has tried the teacher’s soul or the special education case manager who wrote it might not be the best source of support for you.

How does it vary district to district?

In most states and districts, this is a stand alone box. In some, like in Arizona, it is woven into the present levels with the title of “strengths and needs.” There were three states where I couldn’t find the word strength anywhere in the IEP– but the box is somewhere in the rest of them!

What does it look like?

IEPs on the left have been provided by states, districts, or advocacy groups as training IEPs and have been filled out. The IEPs in the middle and on the right are blank. Note that a particular district in a state might use a really different IEP format– these are just to give you a sense of what the IEP might look like.

Also, I was able to find blanks or demo IEPs from every state/region except D.C., Wisconsin, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, and Alabama. If you know of any blank or demo IEPs from those states, please email admin@spedhelper.org! And if you know of more current IEPs from any of these areas, that would be great. Some are pretty old!

Arizona

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

Note that the strengths are in each skill area– Idaho does skill area, strengths in that area, concerns in that area, goals in that area and then next.

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Maine

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Minnesota

Minnesota does not have a statement of strengths that I can find in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

Formidable

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Arkansas

This IEP comes from the Arkansas division of elementary and secondary education. See the full IEP here. 

Colorado

This IEP comes from the Colorado department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Connecticut

Note that this strengths section is an outlier. It is all the way at the end of the IEP, after present levels and goals. This IEP comes from the Connecticut department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Delaware

Note that Delaware has totally different IEP forms for K-7 and secondary. This IEP comes from the Delaware department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Florida

This Palm Beach IEP comes from the state’s guardian ad litem office. See the full IEP here. 

Georgia

This IEP comes from the Georgia department of education. See the full IEP here.

Iowa

This IEP comes from the Iowa department of education. See the full IEP here.

Kansas

Note that Kansas has a strengths box in each section of the present levels, rather than one overall box. So above is academic and below is socio-emotional.

This IEP comes from the Kansas Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Kentucky

Kentucky proves me wrong. The word strength never once appears in their IEP form.

This IEP comes from the Kentucky Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Maryland

This IEP comes from the Maryland state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Massachusetts

This IEP comes from the Massachusetts department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Michigan

This IEP comes from the Macomb Intermediate School District. See the full IEP here. 

Montana

This IEP comes from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Nebraska

This IEP comes from the Nebraska Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Nevada

This IEP comes from the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. See the full IEP here. 

New Hampshire

This IEP comes from the New Hampshire Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Mexico

This IEP comes from the New Mexico Public Education Department. See the full IEP here. 

New York

Note that New York has a strengths section within each section of the present levels, like the academic above and socioemotional, below.

This IEP comes from the Rochester City School District. See the full IEP here. 

North Dakota

This IEP comes from the North Dakota brain injury network. See the full IEP here. 

Ohio

Ohio is one of the odder ones. There is no box for strengths or concerns– just a check box that they were considered. 

This IEP comes from the educational service center of northeast Ohio. See the full IEP here. 

Oklahoma

This IEP comes from the Oklahoma state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Rhode Island

This IEP comes from the Rhode Island state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

South Dakota

This IEP comes from the South Dakota department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Texas

Texas does not appear to have a strengths section on their IEP. Presumably, it is to be put in present levels, but that is not clear from their model IEP.

This IEP comes from the Texas education agency. See the full IEP here. 

Vermont

This IEP comes from the Vermont agency of education. See the full IEP here. 

Virginia

This IEP comes from the William and Mary school of education. See the full IEP here. 

West Virginia

West Virginia is another odd one. Strengths are part of special factors, with no box to write them in.

This IEP comes from the West Virginia department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Wyoming

This IEP comes from the Wyoming department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Parent Concerns
What is it?

While IEPs are supposed to be created by an IEP team that includes the parent, in reality almost all IEPs are written before the meeting. This box is the one section exclusively reserved for parents, where they can express their concerns, hopes, and goals for the student. Some districts also have additional boxes for parent input, but most just have the one box for parents.

Where is it?

Variable but towards the beginning of the IEP. Often it is before the present levels section.

What should I look for?

This should NEVER be filled in prior to the IEP unless there was a long talk between the special education teacher and the parent. If it is, and you a parent, that is a red flag that the IEP is likely to be very sloppy and you should have someone with you at the meeting. It is a bad sign. For folks reading the IEP after a meeting, ideally you should get a sense of what the parents are thinking about. TBH, 99% of these state that the parent wants the student to be successful in school. If you see more than that, just know that you have a great IEP team at your school.

How does it vary district to district?

Zero variation. Really. This is always titled parent concerns and it is always a stand alone section in an IEP. If you know of an exception to that, let me know but I have never seen one.

What does it look like?

IEPs on the left have been provided by states, districts, or advocacy groups as training IEPs and have been filled out. The IEPs in the middle and on the right are blank. Note that a particular district in a state might use a really different IEP format– these are just to give you a sense of what the IEP might look like.

Also, I was able to find blanks or demo IEPs from every state/region except D.C., Wisconsin, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, and Alabama. If you know of any blank or demo IEPs from those states, please email admin@spedhelper.org! And if you know of more current IEPs from any of these areas, that would be great. Some are pretty old!

Arizona

Arizona has parent information embedded in the present levels. This sample IEP was also from someone who is 18 and so parents were not in attendance at the IEP. 

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

Idaho has parent concerns in every single IEP section– I think it is the most parent concerns boxes of any state!

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Maine

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Minnesota

The Minnesota IEP does not appear to have a separate section for parent concerns, which is pretty unusual. Instead parent information broadly is supposed to be folded into the present levels.

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Arkansas

This IEP comes from the Arkansas division of elementary and secondary education. See the full IEP here. 

Colorado

This IEP comes from the Colorado department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Connecticut


Connecticut has parent input boxes for each of the areas of their PLOPs/PLAAFPs- see the ones for academics above and functional performance below.

This IEP comes from the Connecticut department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Delaware

This IEP comes from the Delaware department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Florida

This Palm Beach IEP comes from the state’s guardian ad litem office. See the full IEP here. 

Georgia

This IEP comes from the Georgia department of education. See the full IEP here.

Iowa

This IEP comes from the Iowa department of education. See the full IEP here.

Kansas

This IEP comes from the Kansas Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Kentucky

I can’t find the parent concerns! I know they must be somewhere… but I can’t find them….

This IEP comes from the Kentucky Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Maryland

There are parent concerns on both the preschool and school age present levels sections of the IEP– I cobbled both together above.

This IEP comes from the Maryland state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Massachusetts

This IEP comes from the Massachusetts department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Michigan

This IEP comes from the Macomb Intermediate School District. See the full IEP here. 

Montana

This IEP comes from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Nebraska

This IEP comes from the Nebraska Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Nevada

This IEP comes from the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. See the full IEP here. 

New Hampshire

This IEP comes from the New Hampshire Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Mexico

This IEP comes from the New Mexico Public Education Department. See the full IEP here. 

New York

New York has parent concerns built into each section of the present levels– although those sections can also have school personnel content too, unlike a dedicated box.

This IEP comes from the Rochester City School District. See the full IEP here. 

North Dakota

North Dakota has no dedicate section for parents, just a broad statement in the present levels that it should include information about the student’s strengths and areas of concern.

This IEP comes from the North Dakota brain injury network. See the full IEP here. 

Ohio

Ohio has a checkbox for concerns, but no place to write them in.

This IEP comes from the educational service center of northeast Ohio. See the full IEP here. 

Oklahoma

This IEP comes from the Oklahoma state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Rhode Island

This IEP comes from the Rhode Island state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

South Dakota

This IEP comes from the South Dakota department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Texas

I can’t find parent concerns or input anywhere in the IEP. Let me know if I missed them!

This IEP comes from the Texas education agency. See the full IEP here. 

Vermont

This IEP comes from the Vermont agency of education. See the full IEP here. 

Virginia

This IEP comes from the William and Mary school of education. See the full IEP here. 

West Virginia

West Virginia embeds parent concerns and inputs in the IEP rather than putting them in a dedicated section.

This IEP comes from the West Virginia department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Wyoming

Wyoming does not have a dedicated section for parents– just a broad comment on the “team” in the present levels.

This IEP comes from the Wyoming department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance (PLOPs/PLAAFPs)
What is it?

This is one of the meatiest sections of the IEP! This is where the IEP team lists the students academic and functional levels of performance. This is where you start to get a sense of where the student is at– and this section sets up the goals. Like if a student has difficulty decoding, you would see it here– and then should see a goal about it later in the IEP. 

Because IEPs are written on all areas of student need, present levels sections include information on the student’s physical, socioemotional, development, and communication baseline as well as on their academics. There is a lot of variation in how districts label the various parts of this section but in every single one you should learn about a student’s skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and their overall development. In most districts that means communication, motor skills, and socioemotional skills– but some districts jumble those together and so omit any areas where the student does not have a need. In California, that would have gotten you in trouble on a state audit but in New Hampshire it is pretty standard not to see anything about motor skills in an IEP– so there is some variation state by state.

Arizona, which combines this section with the student strengths, has a nice clean lay out for this section. Click read more to see how Arizona divided up this section in the sub-sections I talked about of communication, academics, and so on. 

Now, take a look at this section of the IEP from the Fresno district in California. They too have a section for communication and motor skills, but academic and functional skills are one sub-section that also includes socioemotional stuff. 

The IEP from Oregon has only two sub-boxes– one for academic performance and one for developmental and functional development. In NH (not shown), there are three boxes– one for academic performance, one for functional, and one for developmental– and no one really has a clue how to figure out what goes in the functional versus developmental boxes! 

You can see that the amount of content in the boxes varies a lot as does their labels but somehow, every single IEP from every single district is trying to provide a holistic picture of the student’s skills.

The filled out examples on the left are helpful to look at to get a sense of how long this section can be– because when I say this is the meatiest section of the IEP, I mean it is the longest!

Where is it?

Typically, this is right after the student strengths section on the second or third page of the IEP. There are a few rebel districts that shift a lot of this information to the student goals section or hide it later in the IEP, but generally this is near the beginning of the IEP.

What should I look for?

Anyone who has spent time on this site can tell that I am OBSESSED with high-quality present levels– so check out the pages on them! Here is the short version of a LOOONG rant. You need to see information about what a student CAN not can’t do. You should see clear, easy to understand descriptions of a student’s skills across the key domains of academics (reading, writing, and mathematics because that is how special education rolls), communication, development (which fine, I guess sort of, can include motor skills), and socioemotional skills. Note that in New Hampshire and some other states where the boxes are jumbled, you might not see all of this information– the team might only have in academic information and information about any other needs of the student. 

How does it vary district to district?

Every single IEP has present levels of some form. They have to. Some include strengths in it, some don’t. Some divide them up by communication, academic, and so on. Some don’t. Some even put the present levels in the goals. But every district has them– and they should all cover similar content. The labels that districts use and the number of boxes does matter though– the boxes guide what folks write so you will see different emphases district to district with maybe a child’s motor present levels being addressed in one and glossed over in another based on whether there is a box that asks about motor skills specifically.

What does it look like?

IEPs on the left have been provided by states, districts, or advocacy groups as training IEPs and have been filled out. The IEPs in the middle and on the right are blank. Note that a particular district in a state might use a really different IEP format– these are just to give you a sense of what the IEP might look like.

Also, I was able to find blanks or demo IEPs from every state/region except D.C., Wisconsin, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, and Alabama. If you know of any blank or demo IEPs from those states, please email admin@spedhelper.org! And if you know of more current IEPs from any of these areas, that would be great. Some are pretty old!

Arizona

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

Note that Idaho has the PLOP/PLAAFPs in the goals– so there are different PLOP sections for each goal area. I edited this to take out the goal language– but there are goals in the real document

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

So Louisiana puts their PLOP/PLAAFP in the goals– but they have this extra section at the beginning called student information that also has a lot of the information for a PLOP. First part of the screenshot is what they are calling the PLOP, the second part is from the first page– but I thought it was worth including here too.

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Maine

Not going to lie. I had to read this IEP a few times to understand what they were doing with their PLOP. Basically, Maine has divided their IEP into academic needs and all other needs. So there is a present levels, statement of need, and goals for academics and then a present levels, statement of need, and goals for everything else, like behavior or speech. It’s pretty unique so that took a few reads to figure out. This is stitched together because I am trying to only have the PLOPs here– but in Maine there are also goals for each of these.

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Minnesota

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Arkansas

This IEP comes from the Arkansas division of elementary and secondary education. See the full IEP here. 

Colorado

This IEP comes from the Colorado department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Connecticut

This IEP comes from the Connecticut department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Delaware

 

Delaware continues to be an outlier. They call PLOP/PLAAFPS PLEPs! Also they are under goals, not a separate section.

This IEP comes from the Delaware department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Florida

This Palm Beach IEP comes from the state’s guardian ad litem office. See the full IEP here. 

Georgia

This IEP comes from the Georgia department of education. See the full IEP here.

Iowa

Note that Iowa has a section named present levels that has a mixture of concerns, strengths, and special factors– but the actual narrative is hidden under individual annual goals.

This IEP comes from the Iowa department of education. See the full IEP here.

Kansas

I put in several of the present levels section for Kansas above. In addition to these, there are present levels for motor skills and problem-solving creativity. Interestingly, these are not the goals– goals come later! There are just really, really long and detailed present levels for Kansas.

This IEP comes from the Kansas Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Kentucky

This IEP comes from the Kentucky Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Maryland

This IEP comes from the Maryland state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Massachusetts

This IEP comes from the Massachusetts department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Michigan

This IEP comes from the Macomb Intermediate School District. See the full IEP here. 

Montana

This IEP comes from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Nebraska

This IEP comes from the Nebraska Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Nevada

This IEP comes from the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. See the full IEP here. 

New Hampshire

This IEP comes from the New Hampshire Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Mexico

New Mexico has a traditional PLOP/PLAAFP above and also more details on similar content earlier in the IEP, below.

This IEP comes from the New Mexico Public Education Department. See the full IEP here. 

New York

This IEP comes from the Rochester City School District. See the full IEP here. 

North Dakota

This IEP comes from the North Dakota brain injury network. See the full IEP here. 

Ohio

Ohio has present levels under goals– and also, see below, a check box later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the educational service center of northeast Ohio. See the full IEP here. 

Oklahoma

This IEP comes from the Oklahoma state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Rhode Island

This IEP comes from the Rhode Island state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

South Dakota

This IEP comes from the South Dakota department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Texas

This IEP comes from the Texas education agency. See the full IEP here. 

Vermont

This IEP comes from the Vermont agency of education. See the full IEP here. 

Virginia

This IEP comes from the William and Mary school of education. See the full IEP here. 

West Virginia

West Virginia has a PLOP/PLAAFP section and a second section with assessment results.

This IEP comes from the West Virginia department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Wyoming

This IEP comes from the Wyoming department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Results of Most Recent Assessments
What is it?

This is a section that isn’t in all IEPs. Many states/districts, however, have a box in the present levels to put in test results. Typically, this is the results of the formal assessments the student took at their three year review or their initial evaluation. You will often see a lot of standard scores, percentiles, and gobbly gook here. Sometimes districts will also include transition assessments done by case managers, class grades, and state test results here as well. 

Because IEPs are written on all areas of student need, present levels sections include information on the student’s physical, socioemotional, development, and communication baseline as well as on their academics. There is a lot of variation in how districts label the various parts of this section but in every single one you should learn about a student’s skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and their overall development. In most districts that means communication, motor skills, and socioemotional skills– but some districts jumble those together and so omit any areas where the student does not have a need. In California, that would have gotten you in trouble on a state audit but in New Hampshire it is pretty standard not to see anything about motor skills in an IEP– so there is some variation state by state.

Arizona, which combines this section with the student strengths, has a nice clean lay out for this section. Click read more to see how Arizona divided up this section in the sub-sections I talked about of communication, academics, and so on. 

Now, take a look at this section of the IEP from the Fresno district in California. They too have a section for communication and motor skills, but academic and functional skills are one sub-section that also includes socioemotional stuff. 

The IEP from Oregon has only two sub-boxes– one for academic performance and one for developmental and functional development. In NH (not shown), there are three boxes– one for academic performance, one for functional, and one for developmental– and no one really has a clue how to figure out what goes in the functional versus developmental boxes! 

You can see that the amount of content in the boxes varies a lot as does their labels but somehow, every single IEP from every single district is trying to provide a holistic picture of the student’s skills.

The filled out examples on the left are helpful to look at to get a sense of how long this section can be– because when I say this is the meatiest section of the IEP, I mean it is the longest!

Where is it?

If it is in the IEP, and it is often not (some districts put it in a separate document instead because it is long and kinda boring), it will mostly be with the present levels.

What should I look for?

If you are a general education teacher? Avoid it. This is a DENSE jargon section. In actual psychologist reports and formal reports, the assessors include interpretations of the results using English, not jargon. If the results are pasted into the IEP though they are often just numbers with no context or explanation. If you are a dedicate parent or a masochist though, you should read to look for 1) what types of tests were given? For example, if you see a Connor’s, that means folks were looking at ADHD. If you see a WISC, they were looking at cognitive functioning, and so on. 2) how did the student do? Hopefully, there are standard scores or percentiles given. Generally, if you see low scores, it means that is an area of weakness for a student and might appear in their disability statement as something that makes accessing the general education curriculum challenging.

How does it vary district to district?

In San Diego, we never ever put this in the IEPs, just in assessment reports. In NH, this information is in every IEP. So your IEPs might have standard scores and gobbly gook– or might not. If it doesn’t, you can always request the assessment report which has the scores in context. If you just don’t like the gobbly gook, get the assessment report. They are MUCH easier to understand!

What does it look like?

Note that for this area, we only included IEPs with content as it is hard to tell on blank IEPs if formal assessment data would be included– that’s why the other two columns are missing.

Arizona

Like many states, Arizona does not have a separate section for results of most recent assessments. Some, like above, are embedded into present levels. Others are most likely in separate assessment reports rather than clogging up the annual IEP.

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

Fresno has a separate section for state test results. All other assessment data is either in a separate file or embedded, as below.

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

Like Fresno, San Diego does state assessment data in every IEP but formal special education assessments are typically in a separate document rather in the annual IEP.

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

 

Idaho does not have a section for assessment data

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Maine

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Minnesota

Like the two California IEPs, Minnesota does have an assessment section in the IEP for formal assessment results.

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

TBH this was a long and hard to read IEP. I didn’t see formal assessment data in the IEP but I could have missed it!

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

The IEP from North Carolina did not have testing information from formal assessments in it. 

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

The sample IEP does not have formal testing data in it.

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

Formal testing data is not included in the sample annual IEP from Washington.

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Disability Statement
What is it?

In most states, the student’s disability is identified in two places. First, on the cover page, it states what the primary (and secondary if relevant) is, like Autism or a learning disability. Then, later in the IEP, there is a statement on how the disability affects the student’s progress in the general education curriculum. In a few places, these are combined, but that is pretty rare. Generally, you look to the front page to get a sense of why the student qualifies for special education and later to understand how it impacts them.  

Here are some examples. In Tennessee, the front page of the IEP states the disability which, for their sample, is an intellectual disability. Then on page 2, right after parent concerns, you get the disability statement which says, “Describe how the student’s disability affects involvement and progress in the general curriculum: Rocio’s ability to master regular classroom academic objectives is markedly delayed. She benefits from small group instruction and repetition to learn skills. She tries to complete various assignments, but struggles doing basic tasks. She is significantly below grade level in her academics. This impacts her mastery of standards and participation in the general education classroom “

In Oregon, the front page of the sample IEP says a learning disability and then after present levels they have the disability statement, which reads; “Describe how student’s disability affects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum has deficits noted above with his writing skills that will need to be addressed through direct instruction and through accommodations and/or modifications in the general classroom to respond to instruction or assessments. difficulties with writing may affect his ability to effectively complete class room assignments, note taking and homework. These difficulties will also impact his ability to convey his thoughts through written words.”

Arizona is a bit odd. It says on the front page of the sample IEP that the child qualifies under OHI, but then there is no separate box for the disability statement. Instead, it is embedded in the present levels and says, “Kyra qualifies as a student with Attention Deficit Disorder-Hyperactive Type (ADHD). She also has co-morbidity of Reactive Attachment Disorder. Due to her inability to self-regulate within the academic setting, This impedes progress without the support and services of special education. Due to this her ability to generalize on her academic performance and one on one testing in the classroom, her environment is greatly impaired. Her ability to self-soothe and regulate, as well as relate to others around her is a weak area for her.” That is the statement of disability– they just don’t have a separate box for it. 

The statement of disability should refer to and explain the primary disability and how it impacts the student’s learning. 

Where is it?

Split between the front page and the present levels or parent concerns.

What should I look for?

You should be able to read this and understand how the disability affects the student’s progress in the curriculum. Note that in NH it can be hard to read these and know how the child is qualifying for special education. That is true in a few other states, but in most it is really clear what the disability is and why it was considered to be academically significant enough to get the student an IEP.

How does it vary district to district?

Varies in placement, phrasing, and whether or not it can be edited between three year reviews.

What does it look like?

IEPs on the left have been provided by states, districts, or advocacy groups as training IEPs and have been filled out. The IEPs in the middle and on the right are blank. Note that a particular district in a state might use a really different IEP format– these are just to give you a sense of what the IEP might look like.

Also, I was able to find blanks or demo IEPs from every state/region except D.C., Wisconsin, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, and Alabama. If you know of any blank or demo IEPs from those states, please email admin@spedhelper.org! And if you know of more current IEPs from any of these areas, that would be great. Some are pretty old!

Arizona

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Maine

Maine has the disability label on the front page and the explanation of the disability later in the IEP– I stitched these two together.

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Minnesota

The Minnesota IEP has the disability on the first page. Then an explanation is supposed to appear in the present levels, although the model IEP doesn’t have an explicit description of this that I could see.

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

Mississippi has the disability on the front page and the explanation later- I stitched the two together here.

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

New Jersey has the student’s disability on the front page of the IEP and the explanation of it later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

North Carolina has a disability category on the front page of the IEP and an explanation later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

Like many other states, Oregon has the disability on the front page and an explanation of it later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

Tennessee also has the disability on the front page and an explanation of it later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Arkansas

This IEP comes from the Arkansas division of elementary and secondary education. See the full IEP here. 

Colorado

Like many states, Colorado has a disability label on the front page and an explanation of it later in the IEP– I have screen shot both of those above.

This IEP comes from the Colorado department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Connecticut

Like many states, Colorado has a disability label on the front page and an explanation of it later in the IEP– I have screen shot both of those above.

This IEP comes from the Connecticut department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Delaware

This IEP comes from the Delaware department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Florida

Like many states, Florida has a disability label on the front page and an explanation of it later in the IEP– I have screen shot both of those above.

This Palm Beach IEP comes from the state’s guardian ad litem office. See the full IEP here. 

Georgia

This IEP comes from the Georgia department of education. See the full IEP here.

Iowa

This IEP comes from the Iowa department of education. See the full IEP here.

Kansas

This IEP comes from the Kansas Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Kentucky

This IEP comes from the Kentucky Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Maryland

Maryland has the disability in the top section and then an explanation of it later.

This IEP comes from the Maryland state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Massachusetts

This IEP comes from the Massachusetts department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Michigan

This IEP comes from the Macomb Intermediate School District. See the full IEP here. 

Montana

This IEP comes from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Nebraska

Nebraska has the disability category on the front page and more information on the disability later in the present levels. 

This IEP comes from the Nebraska Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Nevada

This IEP comes from the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. See the full IEP here. 

New Hampshire

Like many other states, New Hampshire has the disability category on the front page and more information on the impact of the disability in the present levels section.

This IEP comes from the New Hampshire Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Mexico

This IEP comes from the New Mexico Public Education Department. See the full IEP here. 

New York

New York has the disability category on the front page and more information about the impact of the disability later in the IEP– both are shown above.

This IEP comes from the Rochester City School District. See the full IEP here. 

North Dakota

North Dakota has the disability category on the first page of the IEP and then asks for more information in the present levels, although there is not a specific box for disability impact in the present levels.

This IEP comes from the North Dakota brain injury network. See the full IEP here. 

Ohio

Ohio has a section labelled student profile, but none explicitly labelled disability or impact of disability.

This IEP comes from the educational service center of northeast Ohio. See the full IEP here. 

Oklahoma

This IEP comes from the Oklahoma state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Rhode Island

I don’t see a disability statement in the Rhode Island IEP form. 

This IEP comes from the Rhode Island state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

South Dakota

This IEP comes from the South Dakota department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Texas

This IEP comes from the Texas education agency. See the full IEP here. 

Vermont

Vermont has the disability category on the front page and more information about the disability later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Vermont agency of education. See the full IEP here. 

Virginia

Virginia has the disability category on the front page and then asks for more information about the disability in the present levels.

This IEP comes from the William and Mary school of education. See the full IEP here. 

West Virginia

West Virginia does not have an obvious place I can find where the disability category or impact is listed.

This IEP comes from the West Virginia department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Wyoming

Wyoming has a disability category on the front page of the IEP and then asks for more information later in the present levels.

This IEP comes from the Wyoming department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Special Factors
What is it?

On almost every district’s IEP there is a section explicitly titled special factors, because that is what the hodgepodge of things on that page is called in the federal law. IDEA states that IEP teams have to look at special factors that might impact a student’s learning in school including whether they are an English language learner, whether they are visually impaired, whether they are Deaf or hard of hearing, whether they have communication needs, whether they have behavioral challenges, or whether they would benefit from assistive technology like voice to text or an augmented communication device.  

The way that most districts have operationalized this is by creating a page titled special factors with a lot of yes or no check boxes. Take Arizona for example. On the IEP, the team checks needed or not needed next to assistive technology, language needs for English learners, communication needs, behavioral needs, visual support needs for a visually impaired student, and hearing supports needed for a Deaf or hard of hearing student. In their sample, the team also wrote in a bit explaining their nos or adding context. Lots of districts don’t do that though and this page is just a check yes or no page. It’s an important page to pay attention to though because if anything is checked yes on this page, you want to know about it.

As an FYI, each of the boxes means something particular. For example, if the team checks yes on the behavior box on special factors that means that the child needs a behavior support plan. If a student is kind of rude in school, skips some classes, and is defiant sometimes, they would most likely have a no for that box. A yes is for students whose behaviors are significant enough to warrant a coordinated, formal behavior plan monitored and reviewed regularly by the full IEP team. This is typically for students with histories of safety concerns at school, whether that is running, self-harm, or aggression or histories of major disruptions and defiance significant enough to warrant a BSP/BIP (behavior support or intervention plan) rather than just an IEP goal focused on improving behaviors. Similarly, if the assistive technology box is checked, that means that the student needs specialized technology bought and paid for that individual child by the district. A 1-to-1 laptop from the district isn’t assistive technology. A special program on that laptop paid for by the district for that student would be. And the communication box should only be checked if the student works with a speech and language pathologist– and they check that box. 

Where is it?

Special factors is almost always it’s own page. It’s typically found after present levels but before IEP goals, although that can vary by district. It will almost always have special factors in its title.

What should I look for?

As a parent, you want to make sure the information here is accurate. If your child has been suspended for aggression, you want to see the behavior box checked and a behavior support plan present in the IEP. If the IEP is mostly a discussion of your child’s behaviors and that box isn’t checked and there is no BSP, you need to ask why. If you think your child needs specialized technology to succeed, whether that is a magnifying sheet to make text bigger or an iPad with a communication app on it, you need to speak up. What’s on this page has to be provided by the district so you want those boxes checked if your child has a need.

As a teacher, the two big things to look at are the behavior box and the assistive technology box. If the behavior box is checked, look for the behavior plan. Then read it really closely, ask questions, and make a plan. If the box is checked and there is no plan, get the counselors or school psychologist involved because something is wrong. The student might never have an issue in your class, but the checking of the behavior box means there is a significant concern. The second thing to notice is whether there is assistive technology. If so, you want to follow up with the student and make sure they have access to it in your classroom. Also speak up. If you have safety concerns about the student and the box isn’t checked, ask. If you think a student would benefit from specialized technology and it isn’t in the IEP, ask. You are part of the team

How does it vary district to district?

Overall, this section doesn’t vary much district to district. One district might describe an English learner differently than another, but both will ask if a student is an English learner.

What does it look like?

IEPs on the left have been provided by states, districts, or advocacy groups as training IEPs and have been filled out. The IEPs in the middle and on the right are blank. Note that a particular district in a state might use a really different IEP format– these are just to give you a sense of what the IEP might look like.

Also, I was able to find blanks or demo IEPs from every state/region except D.C., Wisconsin, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, and Alabama. If you know of any blank or demo IEPs from those states, please email admin@spedhelper.org! And if you know of more current IEPs from any of these areas, that would be great. Some are pretty old!

Arizona

This IEP comes from Spedtrack. See the full IEP here

Fresno, California

This IEP comes from San Joaquin College of Law. See the full IEP here

San Diego, California

The special factors are split between the present levels and the special factors section of the IEP– I merged them here.

This IEP comes from Voices for Children. See the full IEP here. 

Idaho

This IEP comes from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse. See the full IEP here. 

Indiana

The special factors components are scattered in the Indiana IEP between a few different sections. I cobbled them together here.

This IEP comes from the Ripley Ohio Dearborn school district. See the full IEP here. 

Louisiana

This IEP comes from the Morehouse Parish school district. See the full IEP here.

Maine

This IEP comes from Lives in the Balance. See the full IEP here. 

Minnesota

This IEP comes from the Minnesota Valley school district. See the full IEP here.

Mississippi

Mississippi has the disability on the front page and the explanation later- I stitched the two together here.

This IEP comes from the Mississippi Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Missouri

This IEP comes from the Missouri Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Jersey

This IEP comes from the Gloucester County school district. See the full IEP here. 

North Carolina

 

This IEP comes from the North Carolina department of public instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Oregon

This IEP comes from the Oregon Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Pennsylvania

This IEP comes from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance department. See the full IEP here. 

Tennessee

The Tennessee sample IEP appears incomplete– it’s only five pages and special factors are not on it.

This IEP comes from the Tennessee Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Washington

This IEP comes from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Arkansas

This IEP comes from the Arkansas division of elementary and secondary education. See the full IEP here. 

Colorado

This IEP comes from the Colorado department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Connecticut

This IEP comes from the Connecticut department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Delaware

This IEP comes from the Delaware department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Florida

This Palm Beach IEP comes from the state’s guardian ad litem office. See the full IEP here. 

Georgia

This IEP comes from the Georgia department of education. See the full IEP here.

Iowa

This IEP comes from the Iowa department of education. See the full IEP here.

Kansas

Kansas has the special factors split up over the course of the IEP– I have patched them together here, but they are pretty spread out in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Kansas Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Kentucky

This IEP comes from the Kentucky Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Maryland

This IEP comes from the Maryland state department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has transportation at the end of the IEP, but I moved it with the other special factors content here.

This IEP comes from the Massachusetts department of education. See the full IEP here. 

Michigan

This IEP comes from the Macomb Intermediate School District. See the full IEP here. 

Montana

This IEP comes from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. See the full IEP here. 

Nebraska

Nebraska has the special factors in the beginning of the IEP and then has more information on transportation and Extended School Year later in the IEP.

This IEP comes from the Nebraska Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

Nevada

This IEP comes from the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. See the full IEP here. 

New Hampshire

Like many other states, New Hampshire has the disability category on the front page and more information on the impact of the disability in the present levels section.

This IEP comes from the New Hampshire Department of Education. See the full IEP here. 

New Mexico

This IEP comes from the New Mexico Public Education Department. See the full IEP here. 

New York

This IEP comes from the Rochester City School District. See the full IEP here. 

North Dakota

This IEP comes from the North Dakota brain injury network. See the full IEP here. 

Ohio

Ohio has a section labelled student profile, but none explicitly labelled disability or impact of disability.

This IEP comes from the educational service center of northeast Ohio. See the full IEP here. 

Oklahoma