PIPP Training for Parents and Educators: Collaborative, Standards-Driven IEP Development

by Dale Pennell, C.A.S., and Tina Spencer, M.S.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Parent Involvement Priority Project (PIPP) is working with the Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University to help parents and educators learn how to create collaborative standards-driven individualized education programs (IEPs). To this end, a team of educators and parents is developing a workbook and training materials that are currently being field tested in two Virginia school divisions.

A primary purpose of this initiative is to integrate new requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) into training provided by the Partnership to support a collaborative and interactive IEP development process in which:

  • All participants, including students and parents, feel they are equal members of IEP teams

  • Team members see annual IEP development as a process, not a one-time event

  • Teams develop IEPs that capitalize on students' interests, preferences, and strengths

  • Teams employ family-friendly language that avoids the use of unnecessary jargon

  • IEPs are person-centered and support students' visions for adult life

  • Educational placements are based upon knowledge of students, not disability "labels"
    (Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities, 2001)

Another significant purpose of the initiative is to teach IEP team members to align IEP components with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL). Standards-driven IEPs, as these documents are known, include:

  • Students' present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how students' disabilities affect their involvement and progress in the general education curriculum

  • Annual goals that address students' involvement and progress in the general education curriculum

  • Appropriate supplementary aids and services, accommodations, modifications, and supports that enable students to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum

  • Appropriate accommodations necessary to measure academic achievement and functional performance of students on state and district-wide assessments

    (The Access Center, n. d.)

The result of aligning students' IEPs with Virginia's standards-driven curriculum is "increased exposure to challenging curriculum, higher expectations for learning, and improved performance in the state accountability system" (The Access Center, n. d., p. 6). Additionally, "collaborative IEP development can lead to students with disabilities experiencing educational success, having friends, and being integral members of their school communities" (Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities, 2001, p. 6). Together, standards-driven, collaborative IEP development can help create productive futures for students that include "post-secondary education, meaningful jobs, friends, community membership, and fun and recreation" (Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities, 2001, p. 6).


The Access Center, (n. d.). Teaching matters: The link between access to the general education curriculum and performance on state assessments. Available at http://www.k8accesscenter.org.

Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities, (2001). Creating collaborative IEPs: A handbook. Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Date: February/March 2008