With increasing accountability for improving the academic achievement for students with disabilities, school-based professionals have become more invested in the development and use of standards-based Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The interest partially stems from the federal requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)1 to provide students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum. In addition, the regulations under both Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and IDEA on modified academic achievement standards require that students who take an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards must have access to and instruction in grade-level content. These regulations further require that these students’ IEPs include goals that are based on grade-level content standards and provide for monitoring of the students’ progress in achieving those goals.
A standards-based IEP is one in which the IEP team has incorporated state content standards in its development. Many professionals and family members view standards-based IEPs as a best practice to create high expectations for students with disabilities.
This document presents a seven-step process to be used in developing a standards-based IEP. Each step is followed by guiding questions for the IEP team to consider in making data-based decisions. Two student examples are provided to illustrate application of the components of a standards-based IEP. The student examples contained in this guide provide an opportunity for educators to think about and apply the steps toward developing and implementing a standards- based IEP. One student example leads to the decision that the student should take an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards while the other leads to a decision that the student should take the general assessment with accommodations. Readers may want to work in small groups to discuss their responses and to think about how the contextual characteristics of a school setting may influence the creation and implementation of a student’s IEP.
STEPS IN DEVELOPING STANDARDS-BASED IEPS
Prior to developing IEPs, all IEP team members, including parents, need to be familiar with the general education curriculum, including the state’s academic content standards and state assessments. Academic content standards form the basis of the general education curriculum and cover what students are expected to know and be able to do. In order to make informed decisions about each student’s strengths and needs, the IEP team should consider how the student is performing in relation to the state’s grade-level content.
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