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The Paper Chase...Gone Digital: How to Organize IEP Documents

The Paper Chase...Gone Digital: How to Organize IEP Documents

Published: Nov. 11, 2020Updated: Feb. 8, 2024

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Prepping for IEPs often has a long list of to-dos, one of them being saving and organizing documents. Before the meeting, you want to make sure to gather all the documents you need, which often means having a system that is easy to access and navigate. Some of the biggest questions parents face when organizing their IEP binders are:

  • How do I know what to document, save, and keep track of?
  • What’s the best method for keeping track of all the documents relevant to my child's educational needs, progress, supports, and services?
  • How should I organize my child’s documents for easy access during the IEP meeting?
  • Paper binders are such a mess - is there an easier, digital option?

We'll walk you through how to build your child’s IEP binder, starting with the two most important rules: saving everything and documenting everything. Many parents started with the good ‘ole three-ring binder, and that still works! But if you’ve ever wished you could organize your child’s information digitally (and clear out some shelf space!), the Undivided app and our digital Super Binder might be just the thing you're looking for (more on that below) Either way, we have you covered.

The first rule of IEP documentation: save everything!

Simply put? SAVE. EVERYTHING. Whether you have a digital binder or a paper one, save everything you can. Every email. Every piece of homework. Every note from the teacher. Every work sample: from school, home, and/or independent therapies. Upload everything to your digital binder, even emails to yourself.

A digital binder can be easy to navigate because everything is stored online and accessible anywhere, in IEP meetings, at home, or on the road if you’re traveling. But if you do prefer to organize your binder on paper, it’s helpful to have two binders: a 3- to 4-inch three-ring binder that will be your master binder (which you'll add to all year long), and a smaller one for your meeting binder (which includes copies of the documents that support your questions and concerns) that you'll bring to the IEP meeting.

Now that you have your magic binder, it’s time to gather your documents (see our checklist of common binder documents here). Some schools may still default to keeping hard copies of everything, but you can try requesting PDFs or digital copies, which you can upload to your digital binder. Most schools are happy to share PDFs with parents, and modern IEP systems even automatically generate PDFs. Remember, if you do request a PDF of an IEP (or any document), it may not have signatures on it just yet, so make sure you download the documents again after you sign them, and upload the signed version to your binder. You can also scan and upload older documents.

The importance of including dates

When saving documents, it’s also important to make sure every document has a date, whether it’s stored digitally or on paper, and that everything is arranged in chronological order. For paper documents, write the date on the lower right-hand corner of the page. For digitalized documents, keeping track of dates will depend on if you’re creating your own digital binder (such as via Google Drive), or using an app like Undivided’s digital Super Binder. In any case, if you get in the habit of doing this regularly, it only takes a couple of minutes. When classwork comes home (or shows up in Google Classroom), add the date and add it to your binder. Done. Even paperwork that seems inconsequential at the time could be important later.

By putting everything in chronological order, you’re writing a story. Was your child successfully completing double-digit addition in September, yet being assigned the exact same level of homework at the end of the year? Was she unsuccessful at fractions, yet the teaching methods and assignments never changed? Did you send an email asking the school to follow the visual accommodations in the IEP, yet inaccessible work continued to be assigned?

This is part of your child’s educational story throughout the year — you will look through it and mark where you have concerns and questions. Those are the pages you should upload to your binder to serve as examples during your IEP meeting. While it may seem tedious to save everything, take advantage of what you have in hand from school and can show in black and white. The unseen stuff is much harder to access and prove.

The second rule of IEP documentation: document everything!

You’ll hear this over and over: If it isn’t in writing, it never happened. Summarize every verbal agreement, every conversation, every meeting right after it happens. Start a communication log — on paper, in Google Docs, in Undivided’s Super Binder, wherever is easiest for you — and keep all of your interactions, thoughts, and summaries in one place.

You can begin the log by writing a summary after your IEP meeting or sending a thank-you email to staff, or even an email to yourself. If you have a phone conversation with a staff member, send a summary of what was discussed and agreed or disagreed upon. If you don’t feel a formal follow-up is necessary, send an email to yourself summarizing the call. If you have a casual conversation with the teacher after school, and they tell you about what your child did that day, write it down in an email to yourself.

Remember: if you find yourself in a situation where you disagree with the district later on, journal communications to yourself can be used as evidence, even in a due process hearing. Don’t write your feelings in these letters, emails, or journal entries — stick to the facts. The district can argue with your feelings, but they have to answer to the facts.

3 reasons to go digital

If paperwork is not your jam, don’t sweat it — remember that building your binder is a daily process but it doesn’t have to be that hard or that messy. We've found having a digital binder is helpful because everything is stored in one place — there’s no need for a master binder and a meeting binder, which is often recommended when you have paper binders. Here are three benefits of having a digital binder:

  1. Having everything online makes building and communicating with your support team a lot easier. You can upload IEPs, medical records, and other documents from specialists or therapists, which can be easily shared when you’re coordinating care between them. And if the school asks for a certain document, you can easily share it with them digitally.

  2. Another great bonus of storing things online is ease of access. Everything is at your fingertips! You won’t have to shuffle through multiple three-ring-binders to find the exact document you need, only to realize you may left it at home, or didn’t have time to print it out. Instead, you can type in the name of the document and voila! — there it is. Information is organized, secure, and easy to locate.

  3. Digital binders also make moving and transport easier because you don’t have to lug around binders, which can be messy and take up a ton of space. Because who really wants to haul large, heavy binders to an IEP meeting?

Want to go digital but not sure where to start?

No need to drown in paperwork! There is an easier, digital option — that’s where Undivided comes in! Introducing Undivided’s Super Binder — a secure, digital, Super Binder that’s accessible from anywhere, easily shareable, and organized for your family’s needs. Upload your child’s IEP, medical records, and more, and have it all in one place.

Digital IEP binder

Ready to leave paper binders in the past? We’ve got you! Learn more about Undivided’s Super Binder and how it can help you and your family get organized, get started with a free Kickstart!



The first rule of IEP documentation: save everything!

The second rule of IEP documentation: document everything!

3 reasons to go digital

Want to go digital but not sure where to start?

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Undivided Editorial TeamStaff

Reviewed by Adelina Sarkisyan, Undivided Writer and Editor

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