Special Education

3 Tips for Writing Stellar Snapshot IEPS

Most staff in our building call them IEP-at-a-Glances, but for me, they will always be Snapshots.  I’ve also heard then called Snapshot IEPs, Student Snapshots, and a wide variety of other pseudonyms that pair some version of student, IEP, and quick altogether. Whatever you personally call them, they remain a brief summary of the more formidable 20-30 page IEP document. Considering that teachers see many students in a day and that the human brain can only hold so much information, the snapshot needs to be concise and useful. Something a teacher can go to remind themselves of how and what they should be focusing on with a student when they lose their way.

Here are three tips for making sure your Snapshot is concise yet covers all the bases.

Include the basics and keep things concise

As much as possible, I try to keep everything on one single-sided page, using a form such as this SNAPSHOT IEP TEMPLATE. Here are the pieces separated out and discussed:

Identifying Info/Links: 
For clarity, indicate NONE where it’s appropriate.

SNAPSHOT IEP: Student Name
Case Manager: Name,  phone contact      Planning Times:
Eligibility: List eligibility areas such as EBD, SLD, Autism or any of the other areas we include here. In Wisconsin, Speech and Language can be either its own eligibility area or it can be a related service.
Related Services:  Summarize minutes for related services–this will be helpful for you more than anything else, but it will also let others know what services students are getting
Special Ed Services:  Summarize minutes for special ed services–this will be helpful for you more than anything else, but it will also let others know what services students are getting
BIP: Link any BIP/behavior documents as well as any medical info. I would summarize the BIP as well. They really just want to know how to interact best and who to contact if things go south.
Health Plan : Link any medical info here.

Key Things You Should Know:

Things that are important and may/may not be listed in the IEP:
likes Pokemon and plays soccer in an elite league outside of school
Social/Behavior info-needs partner vs group work, needs a different plan for sub days, uses parent provided incentives for work time, PLEASE READ BIP!
Classroom challenges-struggles to keep track of materials each day, works S-L-O-W-L-Y, needs many prompts to get going with work
parent/home-related– family changes, recent moves, attendance issues that impact performance

Current Academic Grade Equivalent:

Include level and performance descriptor if data is not helpful to staff
Reading: reads at a 3rd grade level, great comprehension, can participate in grade level with a partner
Math: has grade level math skills, but works slowly, so may need to do reduced number of problems
Writing: can write simple sentences(up to 4), and needs visual supports to complete tasks


Use plain language to describe the goal vs the wording we often use to write a goal.
increase social skills by saying one thing each week in class
Using xyz  system, will complete 80% of social goals listed during a week
get oral and reading comprehension skills to 5th grade level
Will earn 80% averaged on individualized math assessments
fewer than 5 tardies a quarter

Accommodations/Supplementary Aids and Services

Classroom supports–modified grading-link to rubric, special seating,
Testing Supports-small group, individual extra time, differentiated assessments for classroom
Other supports–special locks/lockers, transition before school starts
Group like supplementary services together–math together-or classroom supports
Color code or highlight the most important things!

Share Snapshots those first days back

If you have the pleasure of writing snapshots before school is done because you write them for your current students, you are all set. You could be done before school is out. This is what we do now, but it wasn’t always the way. In years past, we wrote them for the students we were going to be working with.  I wanted to have summers to myself with no work, so I balked at writing Snapshots until I returned those first days.

While that stomped out one problem, it actually created two. First, the stress of trying to get them done around all the other things that needed to get handled(meetings with staff, parents and students) was maddening, and secondly, teachers want to know about kids when they ask. There is only so much time to connect. So now I make sure I have them ready before those days come.

I send them both electronically and I provide hard copies for those folks I know prefer them. Its a kindness.

Keep them updated and available throughout the year

After you’ve gone through the trouble to get them ready, don’t just tuck them away in a drawer never to be seen again. I always keep one copy in my sub planning binder for quick information. I also make sure to keep a few handy for new teachers or staff that will join the team. Keep them updated too, after a major overhaul on IEP goals or supports and see to it that teachers get fresh copies of changes that were made.

How does your school handle snapshots? Your own students or the students you have coming?

Share your thoughts here.....

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