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California Technical Assistance and Training

Individualized Education Program

December 2015

Compiled by: Kevin Schaefer and Debra Herburger


Every child who qualifies in one or more thirteen disability categories and whose disability impacts their educational progress must have an individualized education program (IEP). As a federal legal requirement, an IEP team (which includes the parents/guardians) meets to discuss the student's assessment results, determine current needs and develop supports and services that result in progress over a year's time. The foundation and legal mandate of the IEP process is to provide every child with a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in their least restrictive environment (LRE). A reasonably calculated IEP should provide educational benefit to each student such that they are college, career, and civic life ready by the time they graduate or turn 22 (whichever occurs first). Additionally, the effective implementation of an IEP includes:


The educational goal for all students is preparation for college, career, and civic life readiness, yet postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities lag in comparison to their nondisabled peers. A standards-aligned reasonably calculated IEP that provides educational benefit across years is foundational for developing the academic, behavioral, and social/emotional skills necessary for post-secondary success. Of equal importance is high-quality accessible first instruction (see Priority Area: Universal Design for Learning [UDL]) within a well-defined Response to Instruction and Intervention model (see Priority Area: RtI2) that promotes collaborative inclusive practices (see Priority Area: Collaborative Practices). A proactive, aligned system of supports (see Priority Area: MTSS) is the context within which appropriate referrals to special education are made and implementation of reasonably calculated IEPs is realized.

Key Aspects:

  1. Access to the General Education Curriculum
    • All students have access to the general education curriculum to allow them the opportunity to learn content-based, grade-level standards that can increase their academic achievement.

      Access to the general education curriculum for students with IEPs means they:

    • Have individualized, strength-based, culturally, and linguistically appropriate goals
    • Engage in learning the content and skills that define the general education curriculum (this refers to the same curriculum that is taught to students without disabilities)
    • Receive access and achieve educational outcomes based on high standards, and have equal educational opportunities as their same age peers
    • Demonstrate academic growth on statewide assessments that are directly linked to California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS)
    • Receive equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities

  2. Participation and Progress in the General Education Curriculum
    • All students will participate and make progress in the general education curriculum, as appropriate, in order to improve their academic, behavioral, and social/emotional achievement. Participation and progress in the general education curriculum as determined by the IEP team means students with IEPs:

    • Receive appropriate educational services by the school staff that support student learners regardless of abilities or challenges
    • Receive instruction that is based on school personnel's high expectations that allows the students to reach the same academic achievement as nondisabled age peers
    • Receive ongoing and documented monitoring of progress toward meeting the IEP goals
    • Participate in state and districtwide assessments, with or without accommodations and/or modifications, as specified in the IEP

  3. Accommodations and Modifications
    • All students with IEPs will be provided appropriate accommodations and modifications that allow access to the general education curriculum which means they:

    • Receive accommodations as determined by the IEP team that reflect changes in the way a student accesses learning without changing the actual standards a student is working toward
    • Receive modifications as determined by the IEP team that will reflect changes in the way a student accesses learning which changes the actual standards a student is working toward
    • Receive accommodations and modifications in instruction and assessments based on individual student need and documented in the IEP

  4. Supports and Services
    • All students with IEPs will have access to IEP-identified supports and services that allow access to the general education curriculum which means they:

    • Participate in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) educated with nondisabled children in general education settings to the maximum extent appropriate
    • Participate in instruction with appropriate supplementary aids, services, and supports as designated on the IEP
    • Participate with school personnel who have been trained in specific supports and strategies that have been identified on the IEP

Resources and Websites:
Individualized Education Program Resources

  1. Access to the General Education Curriculum
  2. Participation and Progress in the General Education Curriculum
    • CDE Core Component #3: Assessments and Data
      • The website selected provides resources needed to implement Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) and Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) assessments, such as universal screening, diagnostics, progress monitoring, formative assessments, and to provide quality control feedback.
    • Center on Response to Intervention
      • Progress monitoring is used to assess students' academic performance, to quantify a student's rate of improvement or responsiveness to instruction, and to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or an entire class. In progress monitoring, attention should focus on fidelity of implementation and selection of evidence-based tools, with consideration for cultural and linguistic responsiveness, and recognition of student strengths.
    • Moving Your Numbers
      • Five districts share how they used assessment and accountability to increase performance for students with disabilities as part of districtwide improvement.

  3. Accommodations and Modifications
    • CDE Student Assessment Accessibility Supports

      • The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) system provides a full range of assessment supports for all students, including those who are English learners and students with disabilities. These supports ensure that the assessments meet the needs of all students. Teachers are encouraged to review these supports early in the school year and provide opportunities for students to experience these supports throughout the year in classroom instruction and assessment
    • The Council of Chief State School Officers Accommodations Manual—How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities
      • The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Accommodations Manual presents a five-step process for Individualized Educational Program (IEP) teams, 504 plan committees, general and special education teachers, administrators, and district level assessment staff to use in the selection, administration, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of instructional and assessment accommodations by students with disabilities.
    • National Center on Intensive Interventions
      • Our mission is to build district and school capacity to support implementation of data-based individualization in reading, mathematics, and behavior for students with severe and persistent learning, and/or behavioral needs.
    • IRIS Center Module on Accommodations
      • The IRIS Center is offering its latest STAR Legacy Module, Accommodations: Instructional and Testing Supports for Students with Disabilities.

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  4. Supports and Services