Beyond Legal: Crafting High-Quality IEPs for Children with Complex Communication Needs

Charity Rowland, Emily Dayle Quinn, Sandra A.M. Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document developed for each student with a disability. The IEP outlines the students learning needs and associated educational goals, as well as the program placement and services required to support the attainment of these goals in the least restrictive environment. Most IEPs include all legally required elements; however, there is a gulf between meeting legal requirements and writing a high-quality IEP that results in educational benefit for the individual student. We collected a large number of IEP documents focused on interventions for children with complex communication needs (CCN) who may use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). These documents suggested the need for a tool to describe the subtle and specific qualities that characterize high-quality IEPs for children with CCN. We describe a 28-item IEP quality guide created to serve as a clinical resource for educators and therapists who develop educational goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalCommunication Disorders Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 25 2015


  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • applied research
  • augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
  • elementary school age
  • high school age
  • legal/policy issues
  • middle school age
  • speech-language pathologists (SLPs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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