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Doing Your Homework:
Your Child's IEP & Progress in the General Education Curriculum

by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

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In this article, you'll learn what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act say about your child's involvement in and progress in the general education curriculum. woman looking at computer, thinking

You'll learn about the requirements that schools provide children with special education and related services so they can meet the high expecations and goals established for children who are not disabled.

Finally, you'll learn how to get your state's academic standards and use these standards to develop your child's IEPs.

No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)

In 2001, when Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (and renamed it the "No Child Left Behind Act"), they described the purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act as follows:

"The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assesssments. (emphasis added) This purpose can be accomplished by ... meeting the educational needs of low-achieving children ... [including] children with disabilities." 20 U.S.C. § 6301 (See Statement of Purpose on pages 137-138 of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind)

For children with disabilities who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), NCLB requires that the child will receive "reasonable adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities ... necessary to measure the academic achievement of such students relative to State academic content and State student academic achievement standards."


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


When Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004, they found that:

"The education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by ... having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general curriculum to the maximum extent possible, in order to meet the developmental goals and ... the challenging expectations that have been established for all children and ... be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives ..." 20 U.S.C. 1400(c) (See Findings and Purposes page 45 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that your
child's IEP must be based on "the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance." The IEP must include "a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to 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 ..."

Your child's IEP must include "a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aides and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child or on behalf of the child to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum ..." 20 U.S.C. 1414(d). (See Individualized Education Programs on pages 99-101 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law

And that's not all.

When Congress reauthorized
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, they added new language about "individual appropriate accommodations" on state and district testing and new requirements for alternate assessments. The child's IEP must include "a statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and districtwide assessments ..." 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)

State Academic Standards


What do you know about your state academic standards? These standards describe what children in each grade need to know and be able to do.

To get a copy of your state's state's academic standards, go to the website of your
state department of education and download your state academic content standards. Your state may refer to this as "academic standards" or "grade level expectations" or "curriculum frameworks."

After you read and review these academic standards, you'll know what your child should know and be able to do in each grade. This is the "general education curriculum" that Congress said your child should be involved in and make progress in.

Print the academic standards for the grade your child will attend next year. You can use these academic or curriculum standards and information from current evaluations of your child to write appropriate, measurable IEP goals for the upcoming year.

Parents, Laws, and NCLB. An Interview with Suzanne Whitney - "The more you read the easier it gets. When a parent first enters the education process it takes a while to learn the system and the jargon. Every state has academic content standards."

Learn more about IEPs


Read more Doing Your Homework columns by Sue Whitney.

Revised: 09/13/10


Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Merrimack, New Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that is published by Harbor House Law Press.

In Doing Your Homework, she writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and creative strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys. Sue Whitney's bio.

Sue has served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC) and has been a volunteer educational surrogate parent. She currently works with families as a special education advocate.


Copyright © 2002-2014 by Suzanne Whitney.

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