Navigating the IEP process

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a documented plan developed for students with special needs that describes individualized goals, adaptations, modifications, and the services provided. It also serves as a tool to track the student’s learning concerning the agreed-upon goals and objectives. Every student identified with special needs (i.e., every designated student) in BC must have an IEP. After finishing the psycho-educational assessment process, the parents will give the final report to the school. The recommendations in the report should formulate the basis of the IEP. After receiving a copy of the report, the learning resource teacher will review student challenges and draft an IEP for the student in preparation for the meeting. Following feedback at the meeting, the IEP will be finalized, and the parents will receive a copy for their records. The IEP will then be reviewed at least once each school year.


Note, the parents (and often the students as they progress to older grades) are active participants in the IEP process. The family and the student’s teachers and related professionals determine appropriate educational goals and ways of attaining them. Identifying a list of the support services required to achieve the established goals and a list of adaptations to educational materials, strategies, or assessment methods. The IEP should also include the present level of academic performance, the suggested time for progress, and process for review of the IEP, evidence of evaluation or review (e.g., revisions made to the plan), and plans for the next transition point in the student’s education (i.e., change of grade/school).


Depending on the complexity of the individual student’s needs, an IEP may differ in length. Once the IEP is in place, schools can access Ministry of Education funding. Note, not all designations (i.e., students with high incidence challenges—learning disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, gifted, moderate behavior/mental health challenges) come with funding. This funding is also not directly given to students but instead provided to the districts to allocate accordingly. The non-funded designations, however, may receive supplemental funding as the school districts issue resources.


Keep documents for your records, monitor your child’s progress, and ask questions! The IEP is for the benefit of the student and should be relevant and appropriate. Good IEP’s can invoke real change and be instrumental in the student’s progress.


For additional information please visit the following sources:


BC Ministry of Education. (2016). Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines.

BC Ministry of Education (2016). Special Education Services: Category Checklists.


Abraham, C., Graham, J., & BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. (2014). Individual Education Plans: A Guide for Parents.

Lopez-Nakashima, S. (2023). Starting the School Year Strong with an IEP: A Guide to Academic Success and Support. LDS.