There is no document that impacts a child’s learning and school experience as much as the Individualized Education Program (many parents refer to this as an Individualized Education Plan) or IEP.
The IEP, usually updated 1 time a year, includes goals for your child written by you, teachers, and the staff who see your child every day. The meeting where the IEP is discussed and created or updated is called the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD). Understanding how the ARD committee meeting works will help you create the best possible IEP for your child.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires an IEP any time a student is identified as having a disability and needs special education services. This is partially based on your child’s special education evaluation. If your child transfers to another Texas school district or comes in from out of state, they should get special education services similar to what they had before, at least until the new ARD committee can meet and write a new IEP.
Our ARD page gives tips for how to prepare for the ARD committee meeting and lets you know some terms you might hear. You might notice many words and terms in the IEP that are new to you, and you’ll want to understand them so you know what is in the IEP before you are asked to sign it at the ARD meeting.
Here’s how an IEP goal was written for a child working on math.
Besides goals, you will also decide in the ARD about bus transportation for your child and Extended School Year (ESY) services. The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) also applies to bus service. If your child is able to take a bus with other children, they should have the chance to do so. Your child’s ARD committee decides about ESY services. Teachers only recommend ESY services for students who will lose basic skills after a few weeks if they are not supported.
You will be asked to sign the IEP at the end of the ARD committee meeting. Things to consider include:
If you do not think the IEP meets your child’s educational goals, you should speak up during the ARD committee meeting. You can choose not to sign the IEP and ask for a facilitated ARD committee meeting. Our ARD page tells you more about your choices and rights.
If you and the school do not come to an agreement on the IEP, the school must implement an IEP that the ARD committee decides is appropriate for your child. The school has to give you notice that this will happen. At this point, your family has different choices and rights. To learn more, see our When You’re Having Trouble Getting the Right Services for Your Child page.
It’s helpful to know that no matter what happens in the ARD committee meeting, your child has certain rights under IDEA, including a right to a Least Restrictive Environment or LRE. This means a student has a right to learn in a setting where they can spend as much time as is appropriate with students who do not have disabilities – and is as close to home as possible. If the ARD committee places your child somewhere other than the regular classroom, their IEP must note why they need a more restrictive placement. Learn more about your child’s rights on our Your Child’s Right to a Public Education page.