Friday, August 17, 2012

Organizing your IEPs {Individual Education Plan}

Today I had the following question about organizing IEPs on my TpT store questions and feedback section:

I just bought your Special Education Teacher's Survival Guide and I love it! I just had some questions: I am a brand new teacher in a high school setting and I am trying to figure out the best way for me to organize my student's IEP's. I thought about having a binder for each student with tabs and then store them in crates behind my desk. Or I know that in your guide you say to have one binder with all the student's IEP's....just wondering what you have found that works best.

Thank you!"

It is  a good question and it made me think..."What is best practice when it comes to effectively managing special education paperwork?"  In my efforts to keep on top of the state and district forms, I have tried many different organizational strategies. One of my favorites is (as mentioned above)  keeping a binder of all of the IEPs for students on my caseload.  I wanted to find out what everyone else found helpful! {So leave comments!}

My reply was...

"I have always kept an extra copy of my student's IEPs in a large binder. Though one of my colleagues had a very large caseload (servicing students in speech therapy) and she found that keeping all of the IEPs in a binder was impractical! She uses a folder system for each individual student, which worked best for her.
I used the large binder with IEPs for my entire caseload for a few reasons:
**I could jot down notes on them rather quickly at the end of the day (without pulling out all of the working files, folders where I keep IEPS and other paperwork)
**I could have the paraprofessional working in my room take the whole binder down to the photocopy room and make copies when it came time to send progress notes to parents. It went very quickly!
**If a teacher came to the room with a quick question about the student's program, all the information was up-to-date and at my finger tips...I didn't even have to leave the group I was working with!
** I could take all of my IEPs home to read them before the school year started...and not a stack of folders. When it came time to code IEPs, I tossed the binder in my tote bag if I was too tired to do it at school.
**I have had adminstration ask for last minute information (such as how many students have a particular accomodation) and could flip through my binder and tabulate information quickly.
**A binder with all of the IEPs is really handy if the principal calls you to the office for an impromtu meeting about your program. It's happened to me...yikes! I have also been in a meeting with the principal discussing student "A" and then student "B" needs were brought up while I was there. It is not humanly possible to remember every student's indvidual needs! I was so glad that I had every student's IEP sitting on my lap.

Though when doing it this way, there were a couple of things I had to remember...
when a new IEP was written, I had to remember to make extra copies. In our district we keep cumalative files and working files (where I keep a personal copy of all forms) and lastly a copy of the IEP for my binder. It became a habit before long and it was no big deal.
When deciding what method works best, it really depends on the size of your caseload and your organizational needs and style. Find whatever works best for you and go for it!"


  1. I teach K-2 Special Ed, and while my caseload is small, some of their files are already HUGE! I store each IEP in a folder, but I keep a student information binder with tabs for each kid. I created a crucial information page. I fill it in with their academic goals, social goals, and academic/social strengths and weaknesses. You can find it on my blog by clicking the link below. I use this so I don't have to go through 50 page IEPs to get the info I need.
    Student Information Sheet

  2. I am not sure where you work but I thought many districts had moved to computerized IEP systems. I work in a large, overcrowded city high school where space is limited and almost never private. My very best advice would be to make sure all your IEPs are stored in a secure web based site where you can open a virtual file for notes on each student in a word processor. Print to PDF any electronic communication and save it along with the notes in a file for each student. Use a computer (I use my own laptop) that students do not have access to, and it is the most secure readily available system you can have.