How High Must We Set the Standards for Children with Disabilities?

All too often IEP goals do not address a child’s educational problems. IEP goals that sound good but don’t address the child’s real needs in reading, writing, or arithmetic are a common problem.

Parents and school districts must avoid setting low expectations of the children with disabilities. Setting high standards for students, even ones with disabilities, will increase student behavior and achievement.

IDEA requires, among other things, IEPs meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum. On November 16, 2015, OSERS circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter reminding school districts that the IEP team must consider the special education instruction that has been provided to the child, the child’s rate of academic growth, and whether the child is on track to achieve grade-level proficiency within the year.  Only a small number of children with severe disabilities must be measured against alternate academic achievement standards.

Students whose present levels of academic and functional performance are significantly below grade level, should:

  • Have measurable goals written to help close the gap but are achievable.
  • Be allowed to have specially designed instruction by adapting the content and teaching methods to best serve the needs of the child.

What do you do if you don’t think your child is being taught at or progressing toward grade level standards? First, write out each of the standards that you believe your child is failing to progress towards. Analyze any progress reports, test scores, or other materials which evidence your child’s progress towards these standards. If necessary, ask questions and request documents to resolve your concerns. Finally, you can call an IEP team meeting to discuss your concerns.

Don’t wait to address concerns if you believe your child is failing to progress towards content standards. The father your child falls behind, the harder it will be to meet those standards.

To review a copy of the letter from OSERS click on the following link:

If you have questions do not hesitate to contact Kristin Springer at 925-551-1041 or

(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page-

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