EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN 2930 Airways Blvd • Memphis, TN 38116 • (901) 416-5600 • Fax (901) 416-7634 • www.scsk12.org United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Significant Guidance Document Aligning IEPs with State’s Academic Content Standards November 16, 2015 Key Provisions A. Overview 1. IDEA ensures that SWD receive FAPE. This includes setting high expectations for SWD by providing them meaningful access to State’s academic content areas. 2. IEPs must be aligned with State’s academic content standards for the student’s grade placement. 3. SWD can learn grade-level content and make significant academic progress with appropriate instruction, services and supports. 4. Having low expectations for SWD leads to less challenging instruction and below grade-level content standards. This paradigm prevents SWD from learning material needed to attain grade level success. B. FAPE 1. SWD are entitled to FAPE. 2. FAPE emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet student’s unique needs to prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. 3. FAPE is provided through IEPs developed to meet the child’s unique needs. 4. IEPs present levels of academic achievement, functional performance, and the impact of the child’s disability on his/her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. 5. IEP goals must be aligned with grade-level content standards for all children with disabilities. 6. Alternative academic achievement standards are available to children with the most significant cognitive disabilities. See 34 C.F.R. §200.1(d). Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, creed, ag e, disability, national origin, or genetic information. C. NCLB 1. Requires States to apply the same challenging academic content and achievement standards, i.e., grade level standards, to all children in the state, including SWD. D. IDEA 1. FAPE requires IEPs be designed to enable SWD to be involved in and make progress in the general curriculum 2. Specially designed instruction is defined as “adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the child…and to ensure access to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards…that apply to all children. 3. When passing IDEA 2004 Re-authorization, Congress continued to emphasize the importance of having high expectations and ensuring that SWD access the general education curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate. E. OSERS Analysis 1. Department of Education interprets “same curriculum as for non-disabled” as the curriculum based on State academic standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled. This interpretation helps to ensure that IEPs are designed to give SWD access to the general education curriculum based on academic content standards for the child’s grade, and includes instruction and supports that will prepare the child for success in college and careers. 2. Children with disabilities need access to the general education curriculum (the same curriculum as for nondisabled children) meaning the curriculum that is based on States academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled. This interpretation allows SWD to receive high-quality instruction giving them the opportunity to meet State’s academic achievement standards and prepare them for college, careers, and independence. 3. In order to receive FAPE, IEPs must be designed to enable SWD to advance toward attaining their IEP goals and be involved and make progress in the general education curriculum based on state academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled. F. OSERS Implementation Interpretation 1. Annual IEP goals should align with state academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled. This does NOT replace the individualized decision-making required in the IEP process. Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, creed, ag e, disability, national origin, or genetic information. 2. OSERS recognizes that a very small number of children with the most significant cognitive disabilities must have their performance measured against alternate academic achievement standards, though alternative assessments are aligned with states’ grade-level content standards. This small group of students must have annual IEP goals that reflect high expectations that are based on state content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled. Goals should be sufficiently ambitious to help close the achievement gap. G. OSERS Example1. Student with SLD reads 4 grades below grade placement. Listening comprehension is on grade level. IEP goals provide for instruction in reading fluency, support services like read aloud and audio books for core content courses. Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, creed, ag e, disability, national origin, or genetic information.