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How to Read an IEP

If you are a teacher, you need to learn how to read an IEP. Whether you are a new or veteran teacher, reading an IEP is a critical part of your job duties. By reading an IEP correctly, you are protecting yourself from litigation and are able to follow the IEP as written.


The eligibility section includes information about how the student qualified for special education services and in what category. IDEA recognizes 13 categories of disability. IDEA states that a student must be adversely affected in at least one category to have an IEP.

Present Level

The present level section of an IEP tells you where the child is performing. It provides information on strengths and weaknesses. You can also include grades, attendance, and parent concerns. When you read an IEP the present level section is a treasure trove of information to learn more about your student.

Accommodations and Supplementary Aids

The accommodations and supplementary aids sections provide information about the additional supports a child will receive. This gives you information about things like having reader, preferential seating, and extended time. Make sure you completely understand this section and ask the IEP team any questions you may have.

Reading IEP Goals

IEP goals are the driving force to reading an IEP. The goals tell you what a child is working towards and what they are to be able to do by the end of the goal period. Goals can sometimes seem confusing. But by reading this blog post you’ll understand all of the components of a well written goal.

Understanding IEP Services

IEP services explain what the child will receive in terms of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI). Included in this section is things like who, what, where, and when instruction will take place. Don’t overlook this section. It is important to ensuring that the student is receiving the instruction they need to meet their goals.

Progress Updates

Progress updates can be thought of as mini present levels. These updates include the student’s current performance, next steps and any concerns the team may have. These formal updates are sent home at an agreed upon time period. However, you should be constantly collecting data.


An IEP is full of information if you understand how to read it! Every teacher will likely have to read an IEP at some point in their career. Understanding what is included and where to find it will be helpful to managing your classroom!

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