Individual Education Plans: All Kids, or Just Special Needs Kids?

I’m trying to figure out if IEPs are made for all kids in school, or just those with special needs.

Do your kids have IEPs? Please answer where you live and if it’s a public or private school. Thanks!

IEP’s were made for kids who have special needs. They range in severity (and compliance) but they are by definition for kids who need something that the standardized education offering doesn’t provide.

I don’t have kids of school age anymore but I do have friends who both have and do not have IEP’s.

I have 4 kids in public schools in Arizona. Only one of my kids has an IEP, and he has significant speech issues.

Mandated by Individuals with Disabilites Education Act (IDEA).

It’s a system of increasing mainstream participation and minimizing the use of special resources. In other words, the flexible approach to mainstreaming. Without special needs, a student would just be mainstreamed. It’s not really an attempt to focus on individual needs outside of the special cases.

IEPs for everybody would be insanely expensive. That’s why only special-needs students have them.

The article that TriPolar linked to has the most concise and readable information I’ve seen about IEP requirements.

I’ll just add that if a student doesn’t qualify under the IDEA act, there’s also a “Section 504 Accommodation” for students with certain disabilities. This Department of Education page covers the interrelationship between the two. These requirements are binding for public schools, although children in private schools may also be eligible for public school services:

This Department of Education page has more detailed information about the requirements for private schools.

In New Mexico, “gifted” students are also eligible for IEPs, although gifted classes are funded differently than other special education classrooms. Albuquerque Public Schools has a page that covers how special education works in New Mexico’s largest public school district. By state law, charter schools (as opposed to private schools) are required to provide the same services as public schools offer; the public school district in which a school is chartered must give that school the same level of support (read: money) that its public schools receive for kids who require special education.

A good school will consider the needs of every child in every classroom. However, the majority of children will be well-served with a generalized education plan (the basic curriculum). IEPs are intended to support those children whose needs differ significantly from those of the average child.

How do you define “special needs”?

Don’t know if this is still the case, but twenty years ago, kids in our (public) school’s “gifted” program were given IEPs.

public school in Washington state. Only my youngest, who is on the autism spectrum, has an IEP. Not feasible for her to be in a regular classroom, although she get’s mainstreamed for music and other fluff first grade classes

That’s a question with an extremely long and complicated answer. Federal law mandates that children with disabilities be provided with special education services as outlined in their IEPs. Many states also mandate that children with exceptional abilities be evaluated for IEPs.

This means that children who fall outside the range of abilities that the general educational system has been designed for should be evaluated and, if their specific needs cannot be met within the general education system, a plan must be designed for those needs to be met. So “special needs” is a term that covers a wide range of children, including those with autism, physical disabilities, hearing and/or language difficulties, brain damage or other intellectual disabilities, or exceptional intellectual abilities. The level of need is assessed by a system of teacher referral and specialized evaluation. The assessment usually includes the parents’ observations and perceptions of their child’s abilities, statements by the child’s teacher(s) about how s/he does in class (academically and behaviorally), various academic and intelligence tests, and any pertinent medical information. So “special needs” is…whatever factors make the child need services that are different from what is routinely provided.

Oh, and I’m speaking from both the school administration side (I’m a counseling secretary/registrar at a public middle school) and from the parent’s perspective (both of my kids had IEPs and received gifted education, and one of them also required speech therapy).

Yes, kids who are exceptional at both ends of the spectrum can have IEPs. I didn’t have an IEP for gifted/talented but I did for my deaf and hard of hearing issues as well as learning disablity.

I don’t think my school did IEPs for gifted kids. We didn’t have all that many (about 20 of us in my grade in the entire school system). There was a gifted and talented class that we took when the mainstream classes had Reading, and an optional after-school program for animating Lego, but if I had an IEP I never heard about it.

Official IEPs are only for special needs kids, but as a teacher, I definitely do tweak assignments or projects to accommodate certain children’s abilities, often with the input of a parent, without having an official piece of paper.

This is a really great thing! My 5th grade teacher is the first teacher I can remember having who made little accommodations to keep the “smart kids” from getting bored and acting out (or falling asleep) in class. He had a few beanbags in the back of his room next to a bookshelf of middle-school level books and some crossword puzzles/brain-teasers. He said if anyone ever finished a test or reading assignment quickly, it was always OK to go back there and grab a book or a puzzle and read quietly in a beanbag. I was always a really fast reader, so being able to finish my reading assignment then go back and read some more (in a beanbag! yay) was great.

I think this varies by area. I’m not sure they’re called “IEPs” when they’re for gifted students, and they may fall under a different budget. 20-25 years ago when I was in public school, I had a lot of special curricula in several subjects, but I’m not sure how much of it was official – there was a gifted-and-talented program at my school, but I had a lot of slapdash accommodation on top of that, like getting one of the junior high kids to teach me algebra quietly in the back of the room while everyone else was learning their times tables. This was in Arizona, which historically has not exactly done well in the national rankings, and I don’t know how much of this informality was due to a lack of resources.

A good school will try to accommodate each child to the extent of their budget and abilities. Many schools, sadly, are not very good.