The U.S. Department of Education released this new “significant guidance document” in the form of a 'Dear Colleague Letter' was published on November 16, 2015.
The cornerstone of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the entitlement of each eligible child with a disability to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the child's unique needs.
The primary vehicle for providing FAPE is through an appropriately developed individualized education program (IEP) that is based on the individual needs of the child.
This policy letter clarifies that IEPs for children with disabilities must be aligned with state academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled.
In the event that a child is performing significantly below the grade in which they are enrolled, IEP goals should be sufficiently ambitious to help close the gap. The IEP must also include the specialized instruction to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability necessary to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the State academic content standards that apply to all children in the State.
The letter can be accessed at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/guidance-on-fape-11-17-2015.pdf.