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Developing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)This document has been retired from the active collection
for the Gifted and
of the ERIC Clearinghouse
on Disabilities and Gifted Education.
It contains references or resources that may
no longer be valid or up to date.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC)
ERIC EC Digest #E359
Author: Joanne Rand Whitmore
Historically, the fact that individual children possess
certain physical, emotional, and learning characteristics which distinguish them
from other children has led educators to realize the importance and desirability
of developing educational programs which meet the individual needs of their
students. More recently, considerable legislation and litigation, at both state
and federal levels, have been interpreted as establishing the need for
individualized education programs (IEPs) for all children. To date, largely
because of semantic restrictions in much of the current law, gifted and talented
children are not usually included in most IEP mandates. Nevertheless, growing
numbers of educators and policy makers at state and local levels are rapidly
realizing that the unique needs of this population justify their inclusion in
the development and implementation of such mandates.
What is an IEP?
An IEP is a written document, developed and
revised annually in a conference involving the child's parents and teacher(s), a
qualified special education representative of the education agency, and where
appropriate, the child. The program must be a realistic assessment of the
child's present level of performance, and should present a reasonable
expectation of what the child can learn over the course of one year, as well as
the identification of appropriate evaluation strategies to determine the
What Should the IEP Include?
A child's IEP should include
at least the following:
- A written statement of the child's present levels of
educational performance. Before an IEP planning team can determine the child's
needs, a survey of all relevant formal and informal information should be made.
This information can be acquired from current school files and personnel, and
from people, e.g., parents, who have contact with the child in formal settings.
This information will provide a more balanced picture for determining the most
appropriate instructional environment for the child.
- A statement of annual goals to be achieved by the
child. Annual goals are written statements of what the child can be expected to
learn in the educational program, as well as the targets toward which the
child's learning is to be directed in specific instructional areas.
Identification of annual goals must begin by assessing the child's present
levels of functioning to determine the content and skills which need emphasis.
IEP planners for gifted and talented children should consider factors such as
the areas and degree of giftedness, special abilities, specific deficits or
disabilities, learning rates, and behavioral factors. Reasonable goals for
gifted and talented children should challenge their abilities without
frustrating them, be broad enough to allow for unexpected gains, and enhance
those that are expected.
- Short-term objectives to be realized in the achievement
of each annual goal. Short term objectives are specific units of learning which
serve annual goals within instructional areas. They should be mastered in
relatively short time periods, depending on learning characteristics and their
specificity. Short term objectives may be derived from published curricula,
collections of objective for specific instructional areas, and from
teacher-written objectives. Objectives should also include a method for
evaluating the child's program.
- A statement of appropriate objectives, criteria,
evaluation procedures, and schedules for determining whether the instructional
objectives are being achieved. Procedures for evaluating student mastery of
objectives should be decided on by the IEP team.
- A statement of the extent to which the student will be
able to benefit from participation in a regular education program, and for what
purposes. Like other exceptional children, gifted and talented children should
participate in educational programs in the least restrictive environment, in
order to optimize the student's educational and social growth in consonance with
his or her ability to benefit.
- A description of all special education and related
services required to meet the student's need. Both special and related services
should be stipulated in the IEP. A description of special requirements should
include the type of classroom services (resource room, self-contained class,
etc.), the number of times per week the student is to be in a special setting,
length of attendance, and a specific statement of what related services are to
be delivered, why, by whom, and for how long.
- The projected starting dates for, and duration of,
these services. The date for service delivery should be specified in the IEP.
Actual placement occurs following the development of the IEP. Services should
continue for one year and the termination date should be stated. Changes in the
IEP can be made during the year and should be recorded.
These steps encompass the basics of an IEP for a gifted and
talented student. Because the program is individualized, variations can and will
occur within these guidelines. For more information concerning the development
of IEPs for gifted and talented children, write your state department of
education's consultant for gifted and talented education.
Colon, P. T., Treffinger, D. J. (1980). Providing for
the gifted in the regular classroom: Am I really Mad? Roeper Review, 3(2), 18-21.
Hawk, M., Tollefson, N. (1981). A para-educator model
for gifted education. Roeper Review, 4(2), 35-37.
Maker, C. J. (1982). Curriculum development for the gifted.
Rockville, MD: Aspen Systems Corporation.
Sellin, D. J., Birch, J. W. (1981) Psycho educational
development of gifted and talented learners. Rockville, MD: Aspen Systems Corporation.
Whitmore, J.R., Maker, C. J. (1985). Intellectual
giftedness in disabled persons. Rockville, MD: Aspen Systems
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