Ensure Educational Equity & Excellence for Students with Disabilities

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2017 Endrew F. case set a new bar for ensuring educational equity for students with disabilities in the United States and redefined the process for establishing IEP goals.

While the Endrew F. case established that IEPs still require an educational program that’s reasonably calculated (as defined by the case’s predecessor, Rowley, in 1982), it also elaborated that:

  • A child must be able to make progress that is appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.
  • A child must have the opportunity to meet challenging objectives.
  • Educators must be able to prove that the child is benefitting from instruction.

In this webinar from the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education (CORE), walk through the ins and outs of the Endrew F. case; compare the case to the 1982 Rowley case that previously defined equity of access in education; explore the idea of progress and three key things to consider to ensure students make progress; reflect on the implications of the case on leadership for educational equity and teaching; and more.

3 Things to Consider to Ensure Educational Equity and Student Progress

As defined in Endrew, students must exhibit demonstrated movement or progress toward learning goals. The webinar outlines three key things educators must consider when establishing IEP goals to help students progress. These include:

  1. Student placement
    When fully integrated into a general education classroom, students must achieve passing marks and be able to advance from one grade level to another. When not fully integrated into a classroom environment, a student’s progress must be appropriately ambitious in light of their specific circumstances.
  1. Curriculum delivery
    This includes the curriculum itself, how it is taught, and by whom it is taught. Programs must be ambitious for the student and contain challenging objectives.
  1. The child’s circumstances
    IEP goals must be individualized so that the type of instruction offered to the student is specifically designed to meet their unique learning needs.

Endrew’s Implications on Leadership for Educational Equity and Teaching Practices

The webinar stresses the importance of providing ongoing assessment for progress monitoring special education students to ensure they’re on track to meet their IEP goals. Assessment not only allows educators to check in on student progress, but also make more informed instructional decisions to meet students’ needs.

To do this, the webinar recommends implementing research-based Curriculum-Based Measurement assessments, also known as CBM. Using CBM for progress monitoring special education students allows teachers to quickly and easily analyze data, identify students who are and who are not making progress, and make data-driven decisions to provide more effective instruction and interventions.

Using CBM, teachers can:

  • Set robust but achievable IEP goals that meet higher-level standards
  • Monitor students’ progress toward their IEP goals
  • Reflect on the data to determine whether instruction must be modified or if additional data needs to be collected to ensure at-risk students make enough catch-up growth to reach their goals

Take Steps to Ensure Educational Equity

In order for all students to achieve, we must create equity of access in education. The Endrew F. case puts us one step closer to achieving educational equity, but action must be taken at the district, school and classroom level to ensure that all students succeed.

Watch the full webinar from CORE to learn more about the landmark Endrew F. case and things educators must do to meet its requirements and ensure educational equity and excellence for students with disabilities.

Video Transcript

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    So what I want to do is just do a quick side by side because up until Endrew, the default was really looking at Rowley and that case was a case actually about a student who was actually high performing. And the parents were actually, the student was progressing year to year and the students were actually insisting that the student was still not meeting, working up to her potential. So they wanted more. And what the Supreme Court said in Rowley is that actually, the IEP just has to set out an educational program that’s reasonably calculated to ensure that the child receives some type of educational benefit.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    What has happened over the years and lots of cases is that educational benefit has been interpreted as just squeaking by. So merely more than de minimis. Having some type of benefit demonstrating that everyone is doing their due diligence and the student is receiving appropriate services and getting by in oftentimes, with the bare minimum. So then insert Endrew, and Endrew actually is a case about a guy who is, he is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and he was exhibiting some delays in behavior as well as academics. And what his parents found is year after year, the school district in Colorado was basically reconstituting his IEP but not changing much about the goals and objectives that he was achieving. So the parents became frustrated with this and said, he’s really not receiving educational benefit because, how could he be benefiting if his goals are staying the same year to year to year?

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    So based on that, the supreme court actually redefines what it means to have a really thoughtful IEP for individuals who are being served with disabilities. So, some of the nuances and differences that are here is that the IEP actually requires an educational program, same as Rowley said. That’s reasonably calculated, same as Rowley said, but enable to enable the child to make progress. So progress was not mentioned in Rowley, that is actually appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. That is also a new addition, and the chance to meet challenging objectives. So there’s a little bit more to what the supreme court envisions the purpose of IEPs for individuals. It can’t just be that the student is receiving some benefit and you can demonstrate that any way you’d like. Now they’re saying that they actually have to make progress in light of their circumstances and the opportunity to meet challenging objectives. So they actually rejected the de minimis standard and said that you actually have to show some gain in order to say that the student is benefiting. Next.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    Here are some things that relate directly to progress. When we think about progress, the supreme court really thought about that as moving forward. That you actually have to have some demonstrated movement beyond de minimis or that the student can’t be regressing rapidly as might be predicted in some type of progressive lead degenerative condition, like muscular dystrophy. If a student is receiving services and we know that they’re actually having muscle atrophy, are we doing everything we can to support them that it’s not impacting that at a greater rate than we would expect? So there’s a few things that need to be considered when we think about progress. What is the student placement? And this is where Rowley and Endrew really separate themselves. Because remember, Rowley was based on a case of a student who is receiving services in the general education classroom and was making grade level advancements from year to year. Was having passing grades and therefore they said that is a good enough standard and Endrew continues to support that.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    So if the student is receiving services, and they are fully included in the general education classroom, and they achieve passing marks and are advancing from grade to grade, under Endrew as well as it was under Rowley, they would say then that is more than de minimis. You are showing good progress forward and that would be appropriate. So the differences is that Endrew was a student who wasn’t always fully included. So now we talk about kids who may not be receiving all of their services in the general education setting.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    So for those students, progress has to be appropriately ambitious. Remember, in light of their circumstances, just as grade to grade is for those students who are fully included in the regular classroom. So some things to consider what that is, the curriculum that’s delivered, how is it delivered and by whom? So the program, member, progress, programs need to be ambitious for the student and they need to contain challenging objectives. And then the child’s circumstances, again, the IEP is supposed to be individualized so that the instruction that we are offering for that specific student is really specially designed to meet that student’s unique needs. Next.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    So what does this mean for practice? What are some things that IEP teams can take away when they’re starting to think about, okay, we really have to be thoughtful about what are the standards that we are applying to our students? How are we going to monitor that? How are we going to make sure that they have opportunity to grow and that we are actually able to measure that and demonstrate that? Some of the things, because we have to be looking at progress, include ongoing assessments for monitoring students’ progress toward the goals. And it needs to inform instructional decisions. If we’re going to be collecting data for kids who are on IEPs, that data should be informing. It should be formative and informing what we are going to be doing to meet that student’s needs every day in the classroom. So some assessments are better designed to do this than others.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    And one assessment that has been designed specifically for this purpose is curriculum based measurement or CBM. Over 30 plus years of research demonstrates that the reason why Stan, Dino and Phyllis Merkin at the University of Minnesota first designed this, is because they wanted to make sure that kids who were receiving specially designed instruction, that the teachers could quickly identify whether or not the student was making progress and getting better given the instruction they are receiving. And that they had thoughtful ways to look at that data and make decisions much more quickly than they could with other assessment practices in order to meet kids’ needs.

Dr. Michelle Hosp:    The great thing about CBM measures is that it can be used for multiple purposes. You can actually use data, and we’ll talk about this specifically on how to set really robust IEP goals that meet a higher level standard. You can use the data to actually monitor that student’s progress toward those goals. And you can use that data to reflect and as an educator think, are we doing enough? Is what we are providing the student, getting them to their goal in a fashion and in a most efficient way, or do we need to do something? Do we need to change our instruction or do we actually need to go back and get additional data because we haven’t quite figured out the right instructional practices for this individual student?