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Dave:  If a mild/moderate student with a specific learning disability in a gen. ed setting is several grade levels below his/her current grade in a specific content area, or more than one content area (math, Lang. Arts, etc), what grade level should the goals be at in the IEP? I have my own answer on this, but too often I hear each district employee claiming to be following their own state mandates and federal statues but they all seem to do things differently and even opposite from each other from one district to the next. What federal or state statue addresses this? What mandate are they basing this off of? I feel for the case managers (special ed teacher) on this when some new district person is hired and then tells them all to do things differently and bases it on the statement, “because we are going to start following the state and federal mandates.” Like they weren’t doing this already?

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Dave, The US Dept of Ed published specific guidance on this question in 2015. IEP goals should be be aligned with the state’s academic content standards for the child’s grade.

When developing IEP goals, the “IEP Team may 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.”

If “a child is performing significantly below the grade in which the child is enrolled, the IEP Team should determine annual goals that are ambitious but achievable … goals need not necessarily result in the child’s reaching grade-level within the year covered by the IEP, but the goals should be sufficiently ambitious to help close the gap.”

Link to this guidance publication: http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/osers/fape.acad.content.close.gap.1117.2015.pdf