The special education system in the United States is a maze of laws, confusing but important acronyms, and strong emotions. In the short time that our advocacy division has been in place, one thing stands out:  most parents are totally unaware of the proper steps that must be taken to develop the IEP. They call to seek help with a placement they believe is inappropriate, but have no idea what assessments have been performed.  Or they want help writing goals, but are unaware of the importance of the  statement of present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

That’s why we think it’s important that every parent whose child needs special education understand the IEP process.

Before You Start – Make Your Resource Binder

Be sure you have important reference documents at your fingertips. We suggest you make a separate binder with copies of the following laws and forms. Use tabs to separate each document.


Want to do a deep dive on IEPs? We have a series of webinars that walk you through the IEP process here.

NOTE: Our step-by-step process is meant to give you an overview of the IEP process.  It is not intended to cover every single aspect of IEPs. We’ve included hyperlinks to more detailed explanations of various topics.  Be sure to read those hyperlinks too.

STEP 1 – Referral