Ten Points of Substance from the Endrew Decision

Posted by Angie Balsley on 11/2/2018 7:00:00 AM

I work with outstanding teachers and therapists. One of my favorite qualities of professionals in the field of special education is that folks just “want to do the right thing” for kids. This desire can be thwarted or misdirected by an overly-legalistic special education processes, a system that focuses all too often on procedural compliance. This article is intended to provide the reader with guidance on how to do “the right thing” when developing students’ individualized education plans.

When developing and implementing an IEP, schools have both procedural and substantive responsibilities to students and their families. Some of the procedural responsibilities include timelines, written notifications, case conference committee membership, and required components within IEPs, such as transition plans for students who are age fourteen and older. It is fairly easy to identify the procedural requirements of the law. On the other hand, it can be difficult to come to grips with the more elusive substantive components of the law.

Substantive responsibilities can be thought of as the appropriateness or quality of a student’s IEP. According to the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Endrew, to meet the substantive obligation under IDEA a “school district must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” This is a legal interpretation of “A”ppropriate in FAPE.

Based on the outcomes of the Endrew decision, if special educators ensure particular attention to these ten items below, the appropriateness of an IEP will be enhanced and the substantive responsibility to FAPE will be strengthened.

✅ Accurate, measureable present levels of performance (PLOP) based on data

✅ Solid progress monitoring

✅ Systematic reporting of data

✅ Demonstration of progress

✅ Challenging individualized objectives linked to grade level standards

✅ Access to core curriculum

✅ Consideration of behavior support needs

✅ Documentation of services, supports, and staff development

✅ High standards and challenging content

✅ Reconvene if no progress

If you’d like to learn more about the Endrew decision, check out the USDOE Dec. 7, 2017 Q&A on Endrew F.


Dr. Angie Balsley, Executive Director