Special Education ETDs

Publication Date



This study investigated the experiences of special education teachers who used IEP software programs to author their IEP documents for students with disabilities. The participants included 8 special education teachers enrolled in a special education graduate program at a Research 1 University. This qualitative investigation used semi-structured face to face interviews to examine issues related to the impacts and constraints of the IEP software when authoring IEP documents. Analysis of participant interviews revealed several benefits and challenges when using the IEP software. Participants stated that the software allowed them to develop a professional looking IEP document, free of errors and no sections omitted that met the letter of the IDEA (2004) law. Participants also noted tension between compliance and the spirit of the law, for example ensuring IEP goals were individualized and aligned with students needs and working as an interdisciplinary team to develop the IEP document. Some additional findings were that participants viewed the software as a tool for helping them author an IEP document however, in order to write an effective IEP, the teacher must have in-depth knowledge of the IEP process, matching students' needs with the appropriate services and supports while showing professional judgment. This study also confirmed some consistencies as well as inconsistencies as far as the claims made by purveyors of IEP software. Implications for teachers, students, parents and interdisciplinary team (IDT) members are discussed. Recommendations for future research are also discussed.


Individual Education Plan, IEP computer software, electronic IEP

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Armstrong, Jan

Second Committee Member

Copeland, Susan

Third Committee Member

Keefe, Elizabeth