Balancing progress goals

School districts readily accept their responsibility to provide a high quality public education for each and every student. It’s what they do. In the case of a child with a disability, school districts will develop and carry out an IEP, or individualized education plan, for the student that is appropriately ambitious in light of that child’s circumstances.

In balancing progress goals for students with an IEP, districts are mindful of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) strong preference for placing the child in the lease restrictive environment, that is in a mainstream classroom environment. However, in some cases, a child with disabilities may be able to achieve more progress in a smaller, more contained placement than in a regular classroom. 

Such a situation recently came to light when a school district determined that to best educate and serve a particular student, they would move him or her to a special education classroom while maintaining the same level of integration into a regular classroom. The district’s decision was challenged in the courts by the parents who asserted that the child’s progress in his current setting was sufficient.

In cases such as these, it’s important to remember that school districts, in students’ best interests, work to provide high quality educational services that are challenging, rigorous and tailored to the maximum potential of every student. In support of the school district’s efforts, NSBA with the Arizona School Boards Association filed an amicus, ‘friend of the court,’ brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief is available here.

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