IEP Eligibility

Eligibility for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA)

If your child’s education is adversely affected as a result of his or her experience with a disability resulting in educational deficits, then he or she may be found eligible for an Individual Education Plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004.

Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) are developed and implemented for students who meet criteria in at least one of 13 eligibility categories based on adverse educational performance as a result of their disability. Educational performance includes academic, social/emotional, and/or behavioral outcomes.

In order for a child to qualify for an IEP, there must be a negative educational impact on the child’s performance in school. The deficits result in the need for specialized instruction/specially designed instruction. It is important to recognize that specialized instruction does NOT necessitate placement in a separate classroom or educational setting from nondisabled peers.

504 plans and IEP’s are separate legal documents. However, if a child has an IEP, he or she would not have a 504 plan. All of the accommodations that would have been in the 504 plan should be included in the IEP.

Development of an IEP

When a child is found eligible for special education under IDEA (see Getting Started for information on initiating eligibility determination), the following steps are taken to develop an IEP for the child:

  1. Present levels of performance including strengths and weaknesses are reviewed. Parental concerns are captured and the impact of the disability on the child’s educational performance is summarized.

  2. Goals and objectives are developed based on the present levels of performance to address the areas of academic, social/emotional, and/or behavioral achievement that are deficient. Goals and objectives should be specific, measurable, and high expectation. Progress monitoring outlined in the IEP should be based on concrete data collection. Goals should be attainable within a 12 month period based on the annual IEP date.

  3. Additional supports, services, and accommodations are identified and included. These should be based on what is required for the child to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education alongside nondisabled peers in the general education environment.

  4. Placement decisions are agreed upon by the IEP committee.

Eligibility for special education should be reviewed at least every 3 years. The IEP is comprehensively reviewed annually; however, parents may request a meeting to amend the IEP as often as desired. Frequent progress reports on individual goals and objectives should be provided on a consistent basis, typically at least every 9 weeks.

In order to determine the effectiveness of supports and services and the appropriateness and measurability of goals and objectives, progress reports should be carefully reviewed. If a lack of progress or regression of skills is indicated, an immediate meeting should be called with the IEP committee to address concerns and review the accommodations and supports.


Placement is the location where the child with a disability will receive his or her education including supports and services. Placement considerations as part of the IEP decision process should offer a continuum of discussion from the least restrictive placement to the most restrictive placement. Children with disabilities must be placed in the least restrictive environment.

Least Restrictive Environment:

(a)Academic Settings ….A recipient shall place a disabled person in the regular educational environment operated by the recipientunless it is demonstrated by the recipient that the education of the person in the regular environment with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

(b) Nonacademic settings. In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, including meals, recess periods, and the services and activities set forth in 104.37(a)(2), a recipient shallensure that disabled persons participate with nondisabled persons in such activities and services to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the disabled person in question.

(IDEA Part B)

A sample letter to request an educational evaluation is available on our website.

Next: Elementary School Accommodations

Authored by Jennifer Cardenas, The Right to Learn,©2012, The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders.