April 10, 2017
The Endrew F. case was decided on March 22nd with the SCOTUS providing a unanimous decision that changes the standard by which an IEP is to be evaluated. This was a decision that was applauded by special education advocates and is, in my humble opinion, a good decision.
The old standard that courts used came from a 1982 decision in the Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley. In that case, it was established that a school had provided a free, appropriate public education if the child’s IEP was reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits. In the Endrew F. case, the court established a new standard for determining FAPE. For students educated in the regular classroom, the IEP should be reasonably calculated to enable the student to achieve passing grades and advance from grade to grade. For children for whom grade level advancement isn’t realistic, the IEP must be appropriately ambitious, and provide the child the chance to meet challenging objectives.
Special education teachers and the related services professionals, along with parents and school administrators, already write IEP’s that are designed to provide students with the greatest achievement possible. That being the case, the new language provided by the court establishes a standard that IEP teams have been meeting for quite some time. This has been true in all of education, at least since the earliest NCLB days.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court with instructions to apply the updated standard. It will be interesting to see how they rule.
Here are some further resource links related to the Endrew decision: