Rochelle’s Special Education Tips
You Don’t Always Have To Hit A Home Run
How often are you accused of not providing a FAPE because a student has not achieved or made substantial progress on goals? Achieving a goal is not a condition of providing a FAPE. After all, that is why it is called a “goal” and not a “requirement.” But if you find through progress monitoring that a student is not making substantial progress, hold an IEP team meeting and discuss what can be changed to increase progress.
The Fourth Circuit addressed this problem in its March 25, 2019 decision in R.F. v. Cecil County Public Schools. There, the Administrative Law Judge noted that the student “had ‘made incremental progress on some, but not all of her goals’ and that this was appropriate (for the student) ‘given her unique circumstances.’” In affirming the decision of the U.S. District Court, which in turn had affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, the Fourth Circuit said the standard to follow was articulated in the Supreme Court’s Endrew F. decision: that “to meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Court observed that “the benefits obtainable by children at one end of the spectrum of disability will differ dramatically from those obtainable by children at the other end, with infinite variations in between.”
Take away thoughts:
FAPE does not require that a child achieve every goal.
Children are not highly calibrated machines and so there is no legal expectation that the child will achieve every goal.
What would be considered inadequate progress for one child may be appropriate progress for another child.
If a child is not making substantial progress, hold an IEP team meeting to discuss the progress and what can be changed so increase progress.