10 Commandments of IEP Writing

Individualized Education Program (IEP) writing is a part of every special education teacher’s job. Our teacher lives revolve around IEPs… whether we are writing IEPs, collecting data for IEPs, updating IEPs, or implementing IEPs – if you see a special ed teacher know that an IEP is not far away.

But when it comes to writing IEPs, there are some things we should and should not do.

Here are the 10 commandments of IEP writing.

1. Thou shall not copy and paste.

Do not copy and paste from one child’s IEP to another, or within a child’s year to year. This is a big no no! Not sure where to go with your next goal? You can grab an IEP Goal Bank here.

2. Thou shall not use 80% accuracy for every goal.

When it comes to writing IEP goals, you should not be using the same criteria for each IEP goal. When it comes to measurement of skill mastery, you can use accuracy, duration, frequency, or distance.

To learn more about writing IEP goals, check out Intentional IEP Writing.

3. Thou shall send a draft IEP home prior to the IEP meeting.

Unless you are writing the IEP at the IEP meeting, which is not the majority of us – when polled, only 10% of IEP teams are writing IEPs at the IEP meeting – you should be sending home a proposed draft of the Present Levels and the IEP goals.

For a free proposed draft IEP sticker to put on the draft IEP, go here.

4. Thou shall have data to back up decisions.

For every decision you make in an IEP meeting, you should have data to back it up. If the student should be working on a specific skill, what data do you have to back this up? If a student should be in a specific LRE, what data do you have to back this up?

No decisions should be made in the IEP meeting without data.

5. Thou shall not put a time limit on IEP meetings.

Did you know that the IDEA does not say an IEP meeting should be 45 minutes, or 60 minutes? Developing an IEP may take more than one meeting, and an IEP team may not force a parent to sign the IEP or rush through the IEP meeting to make it fit a specified time frame.

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6. Thou shall write teacher training and support into the IEP.

Did you know that you can write teacher training and supports in to the IEP? Just like we can write parent training into a child’s IEP, we can do the same for any team member on the team.

Let’s say Mrs. D needs training on how to implement a specific curriculum. That training can and should be written into the IEP so that it is not only implemented correctly for Mrs. D’s students, but also so that students are receiving the supports and services outlined in their IEPs.

7. Thou shall not predetermine services.

Schools are not permitted to make predeterminations about a child’s placement, supports and/or services. If you, as parent or as an IEP team member, walk into an IEP meeting and the school has already written the supports, services, and LRE into the child’s IEP … that’s a huge red flag.

8. Thou shall read and understand the Procedural Safeguards.

The Procedural Safeguards are all the rights a disabled child and his or her parents or guardians have under the IDEA. It is important that we as the special education teachers know what the Procedural Safeguards say and mean, so we can help parents understand their rights.

9. Thou shall not write the IEP the night before the IEP meeting.

My one question for you if you are writing the IEP the night before the IEP meeting is this… how much thought is going in to this child’s IEP? And are you really including the parent’s in the child’s IEP process?

10. Thou shall not IEP alone.

If you need help, ask for help. If you need guidance, find a mentor. If you have no idea what to do when it comes to writing an IEP, learn how.

The list of IEP writing commandments doesn’t stop there. Check out Jenn’s post at Teach Love Autism for more IEP writing commandments.

And to download this list of 10 IEP Writing Commandments, check the free Resource Library.

If you read this and are thinking, “Oh my gosh, I need help writing IEPs!” – know that how you feel is very common, but also that I’ve got your back.

Intentional IEP Writing will walk you through the basics of an IEP and provide you with a streamlined, step-by-step IEP writing framework to write IEPs more effectively and efficiently. Go from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated to feeling relieved and confident.




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