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Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Function, Purpose & Guidelines

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  • 0:01 What Is an IEP?
  • 3:49 The Basics of an IEP
  • 7:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adam Jordan

Adam is a special educator with a Ph.D. in Education

The Individualized Education Plan is a critical document for children who receive special education services. In this video, we will take a brief look at the development and function of this important document.

What Is an IEP?

Let's face it. The world of special education can be a confusing landscape for even the most veteran of teachers. One of the most challenging aspects of special education for parents and new educators is certainly the language. Special education, in many ways, has a language all to itself! Fear not. In this video, we will provide a strong starting point to understanding the platform document of special education - the Individualized Education Plan.

First, let's pin down some language. If you're talking with a special educator, you're probably not going to hear them refer to an Individualized Education Plan. You're going to hear them discuss the IEP. IEP can stand for two things, both of which mean the exact same thing, so don't get too worried about that. IEP can stand for Individualized Education Plan or Individualized Education Program. The difference is usually just based on geographic location or the training of the special educator. They mean the exact same thing.

Now, an IEP is essentially what you would imagine if you broke down the name. An IEP is an individualized plan for educating a child who receives special education services. Often, an IEP is described as a blueprint for educating a child in special education services. While this is certainly a good analogy, let's shift it a bit.

Think of an IEP as a road map to educating a child. Long before you had the capability to get directions to where you wanted to go by holding a tiny, talking, super-computer in your hand, people used road maps. You chose your destination, pulled out your map, and selected what you thought would be the path of least resistance to your destination. Sometimes, though, while on your way, you would reevaluate your path. Maybe you hit traffic. Maybe a new expressway opened that you didn't expect. When this happened, you would have a discussion with your passengers (or yourself if you are one of those people who spends time talking to himself while driving), and you would decide whether or not to switch up your route. As a result of all of this planning and decision making, you would successfully reach your destination.

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