The law requires at least one team meeting resulting in a written IEP document. In the IEP meeting, parents and school personnel jointly make decisions about the educational program of a child with a disability based on the student’s needs as determined by the evaluation. The IEP document is a written record of the decisions reached at the meeting.

The IEP process serves a number of functions and purposes.

  1. The IEP meeting serves as a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel, and enables them, as equal participants, to jointly decide; first, what the child’s needs are; second, what goals the child will work to meet; and third, what services will be provided to help the child reach the goals.
  2. The IEP process provides an opportunity for resolving any differences between parents and school personnel concerning the special education needs of a child with a disability; first, through the IEP meeting, and second, if necessary, through the procedural protections that are available to the parents and the school.
  3. The IEP sets forth in writing a commitment of resources necessary to enable a child with a disability to receive needed special education and related services.
  4. The IEP is a management tool to help ensure that each child with a disability is provided special education and related services appropriate to the child’s special learning needs.
  5. The IEP is a compliance and monitoring document which may be used by authorized monitoring personnel from each governmental level to determine whether a child with a disability is actually receiving the free, appropriate public education (FAPE) agreed to by the parents and the school.
  6. The IEP serves as an evaluation device for use in determining the extent of the child’s progress toward meeting the projected outcomes.

Teachers and other school personnel are not held accountable if a child with a disability does not achieve the goals and objectives set forth in the IEP, but they are held accountable for providing the services outlined in the IEP.