I am reviving an old post that raises questions about the relevancy of the Individualized Educational Plan when it is written according to the general grade level content standards. If everyone is expected to be alike, how important is the IEP?
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act almost all students with disabilities must follow the standards in the general education class. This is not really different from No Child Left Behind, but it is still worrisome.The exception involves those students with serious cognitive disabilities, but even they must aim for general education grade level standards.
So what happens when students don’t do well?
The following post was written with Common Core in mind but it relates to any standards.
Think about it. Common Core State Standards do not rhyme with Individual Educational Plans. Say it slowly. Listen to the words. They don’t go together. The whole point of CCSS is for everyone to get to the same standard. It is the same goal. You can argue that students with disabilities might get to the same goal in a different way…but it is not an individually designed goal.
Parents need honesty and they need teachers who rally to bring their child forward from whatever point they find them. Implying that the child is not quite right if they don’t master the standards is an insult. Telling all parents of students with disabilities that their child is going to do the general curriculum and master the same standards as everyone else, is nothing short of irresponsible.
I am not saying some students with disabilities cannot do all of the above. But the reality is many will not. Many students will have special needs for their whole life. I don’t care how many books are written about aligning standards—Common Core OR State Standards—to IEPs. The truth is, forcing all special education students to master standards is cruel and unusual. It is definitely not what the old idea of individual educational planning was all about.
There are all kinds of questions in general about standards. How many do we need? Do we need any standards? If standards are so great and we have had them for years, why are public schools closing? Why are we getting MORE untested, unpiloted standards?
I wrote this post today out of a great deal of frustration trying to find information to show how CCSS connects with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The trouble is the reauthorizations that have taken place over the years have stripped the original law, PL 94-142, of its meaning and original intent, so there really isn’t much special about special education.
I am disappointed in many of my fellow special educators who go along with the false idea that all students with disabilities must adhere to the Common Core State Standards. The belief is that all students with disabilities must have schooling that will include proper alignment of standards to individual educational plans. Students will become like everybody else with just the right goals leading to the mastery of the standards. I have also noticed they are long on goals and short on strategies to reach them!
Directors who have bought into this false ideology, are leading special education and regular teachers over the cliff. Many will get fired when the next value added testing scam is rolled out. They will not be able to get their students to reach the standards, and when they walk out the door they will be leaving special ed. students in the lurch. I have yet to see how CCSS will address the students who DON’T master the standards. So far I have seen NO safety net.
The idea that all students, even those with disabilities, must master the same standards is an insult to the differences ALL children display. Common and individual do not rhyme no matter how you try to make it so.
Lynne Taylor says
Nancy, I have a few articles with researched evidence on this topic, if you would like to use them. Thank you for raising the topic again.
Nancy Bailey says
I don’t understand why special education teachers are writing an IEP that doesn’t reflect the goals that the student will have success. Damn the standards. I always wrote IEPS that allowed a student to have success and growth. Most special education students will not meet standards and we should not put that burden on them. Allow them to grow within their disability, but it must also be challenging them to grow. Success allows them to grow with confidence. In my opinion, if a special education teacher signs an IEP with goals they disagree with that becomes their problem. By refusing to sign the IEP, you are advocating for goals that are growth appropriate but allows them to succeed.
Nancy Bailey says
Common Core and standards tied to high-stakes testing are determined by policies outside the control of the teacher. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and now the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) all favor standards from the general classroom for students with disabilities.
JoAnne Martin says
I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding the expectation that all students are expected to learn the standards regardless of abillity. But as a veteran special Ed teacher who walks that tightrope, I feel accused in some sections of your article, I would never imply a child wasn’t right or be less than candid with their parents. I strive to move each of my students forward in ways that will be useful to them and instill confidence. I have worked with many sped teachers who put their kids first. I’m really tired of getting trashed in so many articles about students with special needs.
Nancy Bailey says
Hi JoAnne, I am not sure what part of the article offended you, but my intent was to be critical of Common Core, NCLB, and now ESSA. Most sped teachers I know put their students first. I taught special education too, so I’m with you!
Gary Thompson,,Psy.D. says
Thank you for reminding me why I am running for State Board, and who my constituents must be.
You have summed this issue up with the simple ease and accuracy of a well researched authority.
Mrs. Phillips says
OK so I when you have a kid that is now in high school and has been working on an IEP that is much lower in actual academic grade and now is forced to be graded at their chronological academic grade how is that change communicated legally. Like all of a sudden accommodations and models are acted as optional, grades set in stone and not modified per iep. Last years IEP was fine and now I am told a sylubus and grading rubric is proper notification. Is there a legal ECSA may affect your IEP moving into high school notification. I have called an IEP and have been documenting refusal for thinks like notes, and finished examples. I am challenging grades and lack of communication. I am just having trouble finding the legal state and federal codes protecting my child’s disability rights and accommodations and the proper notification and parent involvement links. Please send info my way.
Nancy Bailey says
It’s hard to say. I’m sorry your son is having a tough time. Did the teacher tell you why they made such a dramatic switch? Is this so he will earn a regular diploma, or to fulfill a request you made about the old IEP? I am puzzled why they would not better explain to you why they made such a drastic change and what it means. You shouldn’t have to go looking up codes etc. I would also not sign off at the meeting until they make it clear to you what they are doing. I’m stunned that IEPs have turned into such a nightmare for parents. That was not their original intent.