Special Education Weekly Update
January 27, 2016
On November 16, 2015 the United States Department of Education through the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a guidance letter on standards-based IEPs. The guidance essentially stated that in order to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability when the student has an IEP goal in reading and/or math the goal must be aligned with State grade-level content standards.
Every IEP begins with the development of a statement describing the student’s current levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLOP). In a standards-based IEP approach, the PLOP clearly indicates how the student is currently performing in relationship to the standards for the student’s enrolled grade. The PLOP should always be formulated using a variety of objective information and needs to be written in terms that are both understandable and measurable.
The PLOP should also identify the skills and knowledge the student has already attained relative to grade-level standards. This information is then used to decide what academic standards the student has achieved and what standards remain to be accomplished. Determining the gaps between the student’s current level of academic achievement and the expectations for grade-level performance provides a clear picture of what needs to be accomplished in the coming year.
A standards-based approach to developing IEPs blends the best of special education and standards-based education. Aligning a student’s special education program with the learning expectations for all students helps ensure that students with disabilities will benefit from school accountability and improvement activities just as all other students.
For most of you this is not necessarily new information however Drew, Bethany, and Andy realize that in order to bring consistent practice to our school district we need to work with school teams to ensure best practice. Bethany and Drew have started this process by discussing standards-based IEPs at building meetings. As a special education department, we have cohorts of intervention specialists, general education teachers, and building principals participating in training by the State Support Team to lead our district in the area of building capacity for universal design for learning and standards-based education for students with disabilities.
“Accelerated growth toward, and mastery of State-approved grade-level standards are goals of special education.” U.S. Department of Education, 71 Federal Register, pg. 46,653