Team Process


Collaborative Team Process


The special education team uses all available information to determine whether a student is eligible for special education and an Individualized Education Program (IEP). See Special Education Model for a description of the IEP process. If the student is found eligible the team works collaboratively to develop the IEP. The process of developing the IEP involves identification of prioritized student needs and goal areas related to school participation. The team then decides which services can best help the child to meet the established prioritized goals, with consideration of least restrictive environment (LRE).


Program Planning – Contributing to the development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – The Role of the Occupational Therapist


The occupational therapist brings unique skills and perspectives to the team.   As a member of the educational team the occupational therapist collaborates on developing a plan to support the student’s participation in school based on their knowledge of body structure and functions, child development, disability, and their impact on function. Decisions about occupational therapy intervention are part of this team process. The focus of the team collaboration is on the student’s performance within the learning environment. The team develops and prioritizes the student’s goals. The team then determines which team members can most effectively and efficiently help the student to achieve the goals in the least restrictive environment. The following question may help the team to determine the need for occupational therapy on the student’s IEP:  Are the specialized services of the OT service provider essential for the student to meet his or her educational goals?


Team Process – Making Decisions about Services


A wonderful resource with regard to team process and IEP decision making is the work of Michael F. Giangreco at the University of Vermont. He also works with the Vermont Department of Education and the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion. Guidelines for making decisions about IEP services (2001) describes a process for team decision-making that, while based on the earlier 1997 version of IDEA,  continues to have relevance today. In this publication he describes the importance of coordinating student special education and related services. He clearly describes the place of related services for students with special needs, that is, a student only receives related services when necessary for that student to access and participate in school.


This publication is based on IDEA, Vermont regulations and research-based practices and is designed to help IEP teams make thoughtful, comprehensive decisions. Giangreco’s home page at UVM is A listing of Giangreco’s publications can be found at


Giangreco, M.F. (2001). Guidelines for making decisions about I.E.P. services. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Department of Education. Full Text PDF Available.


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