Organizing a binder with your child’s (IEP), evaluation reports, and other paperwork can help you prepare for IEP meetings. The binder can also help you stay up to date on your child’s progress and partner with the school. Use this guide to learn how to make an IEP binder.
Watch a video on how to organize an IEP binder
The video below explains how to set up your binder and why. Here’s what you need to get started:
- A three-ring binder
- Six tabbed section dividers
- A three-hole punch
Put an IEP binder checklist in the very front
Print this IEP binder checklist and put it in the very front of your binder. The checklist has details about what you can put in each of the tabbed sections in your IEP binder.
The checklist has another very important purpose: You can update it as you add new paperwork. As your binder grows, this checklist will help you see what you’ve updated and when you updated it.
Label six sections in your IEP binder
Label the tabbed dividers using the same six sections that are on your IEP binder checklist. Here’s what to put in these sections and why.
Keep track of important interactions you have with your child’s teacher and school. This includes meetings and phone calls. (Scroll down for a school communication log to help you note what was discussed and what was decided.)
This section includes letters and important emails. Put the newest ones on top, behind the communication log. Why keep printed copies of emails? Having a paper version in your binder means you’ll have it on hand for meetings, so you can easily find and reference what was said.
Start this section with the request or referral for evaluation. After that, put in your consent to evaluate. Keeping these two documents together can help you see if the school completes the evaluation in a timely manner.
Next comes the school-based evaluation report. (It’s handy to have this in the same section as your request for evaluation, so you can match up each request with the evaluation results.) If your child has had a private evaluation, include that here too.
If your child has another school-based evaluation, file it along with the new request or referral and the new consent form. Put this new set of documents on top of the previous set.
It’s a good idea to start this section of your IEP binder with a copy of your rights that the school gives you. That’s because whenever you go to an IEP meeting, the IEP team will offer another copy. It’s important information. But if you show the school you already have it, you can avoid taking home another big stack of paper!
In this section, file your child’s IEP and for each meeting related to the IEP. Many schools attach meeting notes to the prior written notice form. Keep those notes here as well as your own notes from the IEP meeting.
The IEP needs to be updated annually. But you may have more than one meeting a year. And if changes are made to the IEP, put the newest plan and prior written notice on top, behind the procedural safeguards.
4. Report cards/Progress notes
The federal law, the (IDEA), says you have to be updated on your child’s progress toward meeting IEP goals at least as frequently as you get progress reports on your child’s general education. Keep these progress notes and report cards in this section.
5. Sample work
Use this section to file samples of your child’s homework or classwork that show signs of progress or concern. It’s a good idea to file samples at least monthly. And just like in the other sections of your IEP binder, put the newest papers on top to help you find the most up-to-date information.
Start this section with a copy of the school’s code of conduct. Some teachers may have also sent home class-specific behavior plans and rules. Keep copies of these here too.
If your child has a , file it next in this section. This is also the place to file disciplinary notices, if your child receives any. Why keep these in your IEP binder? Because kids have additional rights and protection if the behavior they’re disciplined for could be related to their disability.
Use these downloads to organize key sections
The “Communication” section can be tricky to stay on top of. Use these two downloads to help stay up to date. The first download is a school contact sheet. Put it in the front of this section to help you quickly find and reach out to key people with questions or concerns.
The second download goes right behind the school contact list. Use the school communication log to include a brief summary of each interaction you have with the school, including important emails and calls.
In the “Report cards/Progress notes” section, use this IEP goal tracker to help keep track of your child’s progress. This form can help you monitor your child’s progress toward each annual goal in the IEP.
Include a zippered pouch and sticky notes
Since your IEP binder will come to IEP meetings with you, you may want to add a zippered supply pouch. Stocking it with some pens and an extra set of sticky notes means you’ll have one less thing to worry about during your IEP meeting.
Why sticky notes? They’re a great way to flag key information. Paper clips are good too. Come up with a system that can help you quickly find what you want to discuss with the IEP team.
Remember that organizing your child’s IEP binder will take some time at first. But once the initial steps are done, it’s easy to maintain. Here are more IEP resources you may want to explore:
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.