The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 requires that all students who receive special education services have measurable annual goal(s) included in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This may include academic (standards based) and/or functional (non-standards-based) goals, which are based on the individual student’s needs, as documented in his/her Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) statements. The purpose of these goals, as is the purpose of all special education services, is to assist the student in accessing and progressing in the general curriculum.Additionally, IDEA and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), require that all students, including those with disabilities, be included in the statewide assessment system; therefore, they must have accesss to the general education curriculum that is tested using this system. This access may be with or without accommodations and may include alternate assessments. Due to these requirements, all students receiving special education services in academic areas must have corresponding standards-based annual goals that link to enrolled grade-level content standards. This link to enrolled grade-level content standards is based on where the student is functioning in relation to the grade level standard and will ultimately assist the student in progressing toward those standards.The question and answer document at the link above is intended to serve as a resource to provide current information about developing IEP goals in order to ensure that the applicable requirements of IDEA 2004 and the ESEA are accurately understood and properly implemented. This document consolidates federal requirements (IDEA 2004 and its regulations) and state guidance regarding standards-based IEPs. We encourage you to disseminate this document to a wide range of educators and parents throughout your local education agency (LEA).
The two documents at the links above present a seven-step process for developing IEPs that are aligned with state academic grade-level content standards. Each step is followed by guiding questions for the IEP team to consider in making data-based decisions. This process can help school personnel to: (a) consider each student’s strengths and needs to develop goals focused on closing the gaps between the student’s levels of academic achievement and grade-level standards; and (b) use data to make decisions, including selecting the most appropriate assessment option. The goal is to support IEP teams to develop documents that, when implemented, provide access to the general curriculum and enable students to demonstrate academic achievement linked to grade-level content.
The IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 address the rights of students with disabilities in school and other educational settings. The LEA must promptly evaluate an English learner suspected of having one or more disabilities to determine whether the English learner needs aids or services to help with their educational needs. This includes regular or special education and related aids and services under IDEA or Section 504.Once a student is identified as needing special education services, an IEP must be developed by the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee. The IEP must be designed specifically for that student and must include services to meet that child’s unique needs that result from his/her disability, including any specific language needs of an English Learner. The services must ensure the child has access to and progresses in the general education curriculum.