The Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

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Program Planning - The IEP:
The process begins with planning and meaningful consultation.  Planning for students with designated special education needs is the same as for all students. It involves a collaborative process where appropriate educational goals are identified for the student. For students with special needs, this individualized planning process begins when the child enters the school system or when their special needs have been identified.  This planning process results in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that identifies the specific goals, objectives, and strategies that will be implemented to assist the student with their learning. Whenever possible, it is important that student(s) and parent(s)/guardian(s) take an active role in the design of the IEP to the maximum extent possible.
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) describes individual goals, accommodations in the form of adaptations and/or modifications, strategies and services, and measures for evaluating the success of interventions. It serves as the principal tool for collaborative planning between the school, parent(s), student (where appropriate), school district personnel and other ministries and community agencies. Effective IEPs contain goals, objectives and strategies that are meaningful, manageable, and measurable.
Overall, an IEP has four stages that are completed in a cyclical manner:
  • IEP Development;
  • IEP Implementation & Tracking;
  • IEP Review; and, 
  • IEP Revision.
The Individual Education Plan process helps to guide, develop and document specially designed instruction for each student’s unique academic, social and behavioural needs. The pedagogical foundation of the IEP is a strength-based student-centred approach. The student-centred approach fosters a sense of community, with each student working in the classroom at her or his own level, acquiring self-confidence and independence. Through a student-centred approach, teachers take into account the student’s readiness and current level of development. Each student’s present level of performance is used as the basis for development.
IEP goals and objectives that aim to:
  • value the uniqueness of each student; their strengths and needs;
  • create partnerships with the home and community;
  • support diversity as a natural and inherent condition of schools;
  • strive to create an effective, inclusive learning environment for all students; and,
  • provide access to appropriate educational environments that meet each student's individual strengths and needs.
Who needs an IEP?
  • All students with a Ministry Special Education designation, except those Ministry identified students who require only minor adaptations, AND whose program is not modified, AND who are receiving in any one school year, 25 hours or less remedial instruction by a person other than the classroom teacher.
  • Students without a Ministry designation who receive regular learning support do not have an IEP.
The IEP meeting:
  • prior to the IEP meeting, students/families are encouraged to complete the following:
  1.  Student Introduction Sheet
  2.  Student and Family Introduction Sheet
  • takes place in preparation for a Ministry request for designation (IEP is created after the designation, but Student Support Plan can be in place);
  • ideally takes place in October or by the first report card in order to allow progress to be monitored by the first report card period in November (ideally takes place in the Fall but can take place at other times of the year depending on when the designation is approved) ;
  • involves the parent, student (if appropriate), classroom teachers, learning support teacher, principal (if possible), and EA (if appropriate). Depending on individual circumstances, it may involve other professionals e.g. Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs), Occupational Therapists (OT), Behaviour Consultant or other outside agency therapists;
  • provides an opportunity for collaborative planning; and,
  • needs a clear agenda and timeline for completion. 
The IEP:
  • has required components e.g. specific date, evidence of parental involvement;
  • is created using the district template to ensure complete information, consistency, and ease of transfer between grades and schools;
  • may have attachments e.g. Medical/Behaviour Plan;
  • has specific, measurable, achievable and relevant objectives;
  • has a review date and progress indicators linked to the 3 formal reporting periods as per Ministry Order; and,
  • is copied for the parent and the student’s red file.
Role of the Student in the IEP Process:
The BC Ministry of Education, the Provincial Parent Advisory Council and the Sea to Sky School District together recognize the importance of student participation in the IEP process. Many students who require an IEP “can contribute to the process of assessment and planning for their own educational programs, and provide an evaluation of the services available to them” (BC Ministry of Education Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines, Section B5).
Goal setting is an important life skill and the IEP process offers an opportunity for students to set personal goals and measure their progress. Where appropriate, the student must be offered the opportunity to be consulted about and participate in the preparation of their IEP (BC School Act, Section 168 2a).
Role of the Parent in the IEP Process:
The BC Ministry of Education, the Provincial Parent Advisory Council, and the Sea to Sky School District recognize the vital role parents have in planning for their child's education. It is expected that the parents will work in partnership with the school in planning, developing and implementing their child’s Individual Education Plan.
“Parents of Students with Special Needs know a great deal about their children which can be helpful. Collaboration should be sought in a timely and supportive way, and the input of parents respected and acknowledged” (BC Ministry of Education, A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines, Section B4).
Important Considerations:
  • The IEP is NOT a legally-binding document written in stone, nor is it meant to be an exhaustive description of a student’s entire educational program
  • The IEP is a working document that evolves with the changing needs of the student
  • Consider limiting IEP goals to three (3), and revising / adding goals as the year progresses (such as during natural breaks like major holidays or reporting periods)
  • The first goal in an IEP must always relate to the category in which the student in claim
  • The progress on IEP goals will be reported on at each reporting period



  • A collaboratively written “living” plan for a student that describes educational programming accommodations and services to be provided

“meaningful  measurable manageable”

  • To formalize planning decisions
  • To provide a record
  • To track and report on a student’s progress in relation to IEP goals and objectives
  • To provide a means for student and parent involvement



  • A student with a Ministry designation receiving 25 hours of more of specialized support from someone other than the classroom teacher
  • A non‐designated student receiving direct specialized support for more than 25 hours in a school year is provided with a Student Learning Plan
  • School‐based case manager coordinates the development and implementation of the IEP
  •  School staff, district staff or staff from community may be involved
  • Parents/guardians
  • Student



  • As soon as possible following the identification of the student as having special learning needs
  • Ideally before the First Report Card period in November
  • Essential information about the student
  • Strengths and needs/learning focus
  • Goals and objectives, specific strategies and evaluation of the instructional and/or behavioural plans