HOW TO READ AN IEP:
SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED INSTRUCTION “SDI”
The most important part of any IEP outlines what services and supports a student with a disability will receive to help them make educational progress. All IEPs must include a statement of the “special education and related services and supplementary aids and services” that will be provided to the individual student with a disability. To the extent practicable, these services must be based on peer-reviewed research, meaning the IEP team should select and use methodologies supported by evidence. The IEP must also include how often, where, and how long the student will be receiving the service.
The IDEA defines “special education” as specially designed instruction (“SDI”), specifying that it should be at no cost to parents and meet the unique needs of the child with a disability. Thus, special education is not a place or a label for the individual student; special education is intended to be a service for students with disabilities.
IEP teams “specially design” instruction by considering a student’s individual needs and then adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to ensure the student has access to the general curriculum and will meet their goals. SDI should be designed intentionally to capitalize on a student’s strengths and provide effective supports and services in areas of need.
Related services are the additional services a child needs to receive in order to benefit from special education. Common related services include:
- Speech language therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological/social work
- School health and school nurse services
- Parent and teacher training
Supplemental aids and services are services and supports the child receives so they can be educated with children who are not disabled. For example, your child may need:
- Additional staff support (e.g. consultation, one-on-one aide, behavioral specialist)
- Supports to address environmental needs (e.g. specific seating)
- Specialized equipment
- Pacing of instruction
- Materials (e.g. scanned tests and notes, shared notetaking, large print, assistive technology)
- Self-management strategies
- Social interaction support
- Personnel training
- Extracurricular activities
- Do I understand what services and supports my child is receiving?
- Where will it be provided? Is this the least restrictive environment?
- When will it be provided?
- How will it be provided?
- Who will be providing it? What is their training?
- Are the recommended services and supports from the most recent evaluation included in the IEP?
- Are the services included in my child’s IEP research-based?
- Is there anything my child needs that it missing from my child’s service plan?