Higher Expectations for Special Ed. Students Says US Supreme Court


I have seen many students’ goals and objectives remain very low – and would have stayed there without strong parent intervention. In March of 2017 the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a specified higher standard of education for children with special education needs. This was a big win for special needs students and their parents. It states that a child’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.”

Prior to this ruling, the legal expectation of a student’s progress was permitted to be little more than “de minimus” meaning, little more than an amount so trivial as to be hardly with considering.

Higher expectations must show up as challenging goals and objectives in a student’s IEP. If the goals remain low, there is no compelling reason to help the student keep up with peers to the greatest extent possible. Unfortunately, too many (but not all) districts, for the sake of budgets and teacher/professional availability, have been  happy just to move the special needs child along until their 21st birthday.

Now with this new case law, parents are empowered to insist upon goals and objectives designed to help their child make meaningful progress in his/her curriculum commensurate with his/her true potential.

But beware, even when a parent succeeds at elevating the goals and objectives for their child, there are myriad ways that the school can reduce their responsibility to expect the child to Master the goal . One way is in the percentage of the number of trials the child is expected to correctly do the goal. Sometimes the goals are cleverly written that the child doesn’t even have to do the goal correctly, sometimes it is just expected that the child makes an attempt.

Like I said, there are myriad ways schools can fudge the urgency of meeting the goals and objectives in a child’s IEP.

Parents need to know how challenging their child’s IEP really is and whether or not the IEP is truly being carried out in a meaningful way.


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