As we dive into the 2019 school year, I wanted to share a recent (more or less) court case that I feel is very important to both your success as an educational advocate for your child, and your child’s success. Over the years, children with disabilities not in an “inclusion setting” have not been required to progress at the same level as their peers. In fact, schools were only required to show a minimum amount of progress and IEP goals were written accordingly. By doing this, the schools did not have high expectations for children with disabilities in segregated settings.
March 2017 (you may have heard about this), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a student with disabilities “merely more than de minimis” progress is not considered reasonable progress! It did not matter if that student was in a full inclusion setting or not. The Supreme Court also stated that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) demands more (Endrew F. v. Douglas County School. District – Opinion # 15–827). IDEA now requires that a child’s IEP must be reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate, considering the child’s circumstances. The IEP Team must look at a student’s unique needs before the IEP is developed to insure progress in academic and functional advancement.
In the past, the “Rowley” standard (Board of Education vs Rowley, 458 U.U. 176 1982) was the standard for progress and was applicable to children with disabilities who were fully integrated in a mainstream or full inclusion setting. However, it was not necessarily applicable in other settings such as smaller segregated classrooms. The Court did not reversing the 1982 Rowley decision, but rather clarified that a different standard needs to be used when children with disabilities are not fully included.
What exactly does this mean for you as your child’s advocate? Well, when you are fighting for more supports and services, point out that your child is only showing “minimal” progress. Then quote the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Supreme Court case, stating that de minimis progress is NOT enough. The only way children with disabilities are going to reach their fullest potential is with the appropriate supports and services (no matter if they are in a full inclusion setting or a smaller special education classroom). Children with disabilities not in an inclusion setting still need to show adequate progress, and adequate progress means developing the kinds of social AND functional skills that offer a higher quality of life.
If you would like to see the entire court case, click here.
– Credit to Dena Hook of the TS Alliance and Springible Contributor