Development of
High-Quality Educational Programming for Students With Disabilities

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Development of High-Quality Educational Programming for Students With Disabilities

High-quality educational programming begins with the development of an individualized education program (IEP) that is reasonably calculated to enable a child with disabilities to make appropriate progress toward challenging goals and objectives in light of the child’s circumstances. The IEP is a written statement that is developed for each eligible child with a disability in accordance with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and applicable state laws. The development of an IEP that promotes high-quality educational programming requires ongoing collaboration among special and general educators, local leaders, and families and students.

PLAAFPs, Measurable Annual Goals, and Monitoring Plans

An IEP begins with the development of a statement of present levels of academic and functional performance, or PLAAFPs. In well-developed IEPs, there is a direct relationship between the PLAAFPs and the other components of the IEP. The PLAAFPs identify the student’s needs and provide the baseline for measurable annual goals that are necessary to support the student in accessing and progressing in the general curriculum. For each annual goal, the IEP team develops a description of how the student’s progress toward the goal will be measured and shared with parents and families.

Highlighted Resources

IEPs: Developing High-Quality Individualized Education Programs

This module details the process of developing high-quality individualized education programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities.

Online Module

Strategies Setting Data-Driven Behavioral Individualized Education Program Goals

This guide provides an overview of behavioral progress monitoring and goal setting to inform data-driven decision making within tiered support models and individualized education programs (IEPs).

User Guide

Strategies for Setting High-Quality Academic Individualized Education Program Goals

This guide explains how educators can establish IEP goals that are measurable, ambitious, and appropriate in light of the student's circumstances. Four important steps are required for setting a valid goal for individual student performance: selecting a measure, establishing baseline performance, choosing a strategy for setting the goal, and writing a measurable goal.

User Guide

Specially Designed Instruction, Supplementary Aids and Services, and Related Services

To support students in reaching ambitious annual goals, the IEP team uses information from the PLAAFPs to develop a statement of special education and related services as well as supplementary aids and services. Under IDEA, special education means specially designed instruction, or adapting as appropriate the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the child. In some cases, students with disabilities will require related services to benefit from special education. These and other students also may need supplementary aids and services provided in regular education classes, or other education and nonacademic settings, to be educated with children without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.

Highlighted Resources

Introduction to Intensive Intervention

This self-paced module provides the foundational information for users interested in learning more about intensive intervention and the data-based individualization process, how it fits within a tiered system such as MTSS, RTI, or PBIS, and how intensive intervention can provide a systemic process to deliver specialized instruction for students with disabilities.

Online Module

Accommodations: Instructional and Testing Supports for Students with Disabilities

This module overviews instructional and testing accommodations for students with disabilities, explains how accommodations differ from other kinds of instructional adaptations, defines the four categories of accommodations, and describes how to implement accommodations and evaluate their effectiveness for individual students.

Online Module

Information About Related Services

This resource provides information about related services as they are described in IDEA, a brief overview of related services and more in depth information about what's excluded and how individual services are defined.


IEP Team

Developing high-quality educational programming through the IEP requires ongoing collaboration among parents and families, teachers, other school staff, and the child, when appropriate. At least annually, the IEP team meets to review and revise the IEP as appropriate based on the student’s needs [IDEA, Sec. 300.324(b)(1)]. Although the IEP team is responsible for the development of each component of the IEP, members of the team also may convene to monitor the student’s progress, amend IEP components based on the student’s response, ensure access to the general curriculum, and identify approaches to intensifying instruction and supports to ensure appropriate progress.

Highlighted Resources

Virtual IEP Meeting Tip Sheets

This resource was developed in response to requests from state and local educational agencies and parents about how to hold and participate in virtual individualized education program (IEP) meetings.


Serving on Groups that Make Decisions: A Guide for Families

This guide is intended to be a useful tool for anyone who is currently serving, or wants to serve, on a decision-making group. This can include parents, students, educators, administrators, and community members. It was researched, developed, and written collaboratively by a broad group of statewide agencies, school representatives, and family members across Wisconsin.

User Guide

Additional Considerations

As IEP teams develop high-quality programming for students with disabilities, there are additional considerations for students at different age spans, with more intensive needs, or with specific learning challenges. For example, beginning not later than the first IEP where the child turns 16 (or 14 in some states), IEP teams will need to develop a transition plan that includes transition services and measurable postsecondary goals [IDEA, Sec. 300.320(b)]. For a few students (~1%), IEP teams may determine that students should take an alternative assessment instead of the regular state or district assessment [IDEA, Sec. 300.320(a)(6)(ii))]. IEP teams also will need to consider other special factors related to behavior, limited English proficiency, blindness or visual impairment, communication challenges, and assistive technology requirements [IDEA, Sec. 300.324(a)(2)].

Highlighted Resources

Transition Planning Tools

This section of NTACT's website provides resources and tools to guide the process of transition planning - encompassing assessment and skill development to plan for success beyond school.


Special Factors in IEP Development

The IDEA lists five special factors that the IEP team must consider in the development, review, and revision of each child’s IEP. This webpage from the Center for Parent Information Resources provides information about each of the five factors.