What are the keys to successful, student-centered IEPs? It starts with strong collaboration and communication among the entire team—administrators, teachers, parents and caregivers, service providers, and students. This team must also have access to accurate, up-to-date performance data throughout the IEP cycle.

Our informative infographic provides a quick reference to guide team members through each stage of the IEP, help strengthen the collaborative process, and produce the best, personalized student outcomes.

View Accessible Text Version The Four Stages of the IEP Process: Tips for Success

The Four IEP Stages

Tips for Success

Collaboration among educators, parents and caregivers, service providers, and the students themselves is key to the success of each stage.


  • Collaborate to assess the student’s baseline strengths, weaknesses, and unique needs.
  • Address the needs of the whole child—instructional, emotional, communication, health, and independent functioning.
  • Analyze all stakeholder input to create an accurate PLAAFP (Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance).
  • Identify target skills, accommodations, and modifications needed for student success.


  • Use present levels to target skills and write individualized goals—every area of need in the PLAAFP must have a corresponding goal.
  • Collaborate to ensure goals are  SMART.
  • Personalize goals and align them to state standards.
  • Write in clear language that can be understood by the whole team.


  • Provide all stakeholders with full access to the IEP and maintain a culture of trust.
  • Deliver planned services and supports, guided by up-to-date student data and IEP timelines.
  • Progress monitor to implement with fidelity.
  • Encourage the student to self-advocate and stay involved.


  • Analyze data to evaluate the student’s progress and make needed adjustments to instruction or goals.
  • Prepare reports for sharing throughout the IEP process to demonstrate progress.
  • Use reporting as a foundation for planning the next IEP.


Bring the IEP process full circle by giving everyone a voice at the table, ensuring compliance at every stage, and empowering students to reach for their north star.

A Comprehensive Guide to the IEP Process

Our expert shares details on the roles, responsibilities, and stages of the IEP process to guide educators in completing compliant, data-driven, student‑centered plans.

Get Guide