The Department of Education has released new guidelines for IEP goals in light of the court case Endrew F. v. Douglas Country School District (137 S. Ct. 988). Endrew rejected the 10th Circuit and other circuits findings that IEP must result in educational benefit only merely more than de minimis. De minimis, as defined by the courts, was more than trivial or minor educational benefit.
What this means is that schools now must, all over the country, create IEPs that are designed to grant more than minimal educational benefit to the child and now must provide an IEP that is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light of the child’s circumstances.” For most students, this means the IEP should be designed to help the student achieve grade level proficiency. For students with severe disabilities, the goals should still be ambitious to reach alternative academic standards aligned with state grade-level content standards.
This case, and the new guidelines, also tell schools to consider the child’s previous rate of progress, what services have been provided in the past, and how those services were provided. In addition they should consider whether the child is on track to reach or exceed grade level proficiency and any behaviors interfering with the child’s progress.
For parents, this case and the new guidelines give you more backing to ask for meaningful IEP goals and services that do more than maintain the child at the current level or result in minimum progress. If the child is not progressing or making little progress, the schools are now required to try providing services in a different way or to provide new or additional services. And remember, if the IEP isn’t working, IDEA allows for the IEP to be revisited at any time by calling a new meeting. IDEA requires that the IEP is reasonably calculated to ensure progress. This, as we already know, does not mean that it must be ideal. These new guidelines should be downloaded and printed to be included in the source material you take with you to any IEP meeting.
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You can download the new guidelines here