High Expectations Dear Colleague Letter

The US Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued a new Dear Colleague letter November 16, 2015 regarding that a student’s IEP must be aligned to the State’s academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled
.  Typically, examples are not given in guidance letters, but a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in reading is the example used in this letter.

EXCERPT (from pages 5-6):

For example, after reviewing recent evaluation data for a sixth grade child with a specific learning disability, the IEP Team determines that the child is reading four grade levels below his current grade; however, his listening comprehension is on grade level.  The child’s general education teacher and special education teacher also note that when materials are read aloud to the child he is able to understand grade-level content.

Based on these present levels of performance and the child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, the IEP Team determines he should receive specialized instruction to improve his reading fluency.  Based on the child’s rate of growth during the previous school year, the IEP Team estimates that with appropriate specialized instruction the child could achieve an increase of at least 1.5 grade levels in reading fluency.

To ensure the child can learn material based on sixth grade content standards (e.g., science and history content), the IEP Team determines the child should receive modifications for all grade-level reading assignments.  His reading assignments would be based on sixth grade content but would be shortened to assist with reading fatigue resulting from his disability.   In addition, he would be provided with audio text books and electronic versions of longer reading assignments that he can access through synthetic speech.

With this specialized instruction and these support services, the IEP would be designed to enable the child to be involved and make progress in the general education curriculum based on the State’s sixth grade content standards, while still addressing the child’s needs based on the child’s present levels of performance.