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My child was having problems at school. I agreed to have her tested, and the tests have shown that she has trouble with reading. The teacher said that we need to have a meeting to create a learning program that fits my daughter's needs. The term she uses is “IEP.” Can you explain what this is?

There have been quite a number of federal laws that address the educational needs of children with learning differences.

Beginning with Public Law 94-142 ( in the early 1970’s), and continuing to our current educational laws in effect today, it is required that children, upon completion of a comprehensive assessment (which identifies significant learning gaps), have a specific educational plan designed to fit their learning needs.

The completed document, called an Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP, provides a framework for your child’s education for the next calendar year. Most IEP’s are fairly comprehensive, but, each must include: the child’s current level of functioning, long and short term goals, specific supports and services that will be provided, the amount of time the child will receive specialized services, the amount of time the child will spend in a regular classroom, the date and duration of services, and for teens, vocational planning for the future.

As a parent, you are key to the success of the plan. As a valuable member of the IEP team, along with teachers, therapists, counselors, para-professionals, and others interested in the educational welfare of your child, you will make educational decisions on behalf of your child. As a parent, you are the individual in the meeting who loves your child most and knows your child the best. In turn, you will need to advocate for services that will positively impact your child now, and in the future.


You can obtain information about IEP’s, advocacy, and other resources for parents of children with disabilities from the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Resource Center by calling 800-444-0821 or by visiting our web site at



Michelle Reynolds, Director of the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Resource Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City



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Last update: Wednesday, April 14, 2010



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