December 7, 2017: ED Issues Questions and Answers on Endrew F.

On December 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) issued a Q&A document entitled “Questions and Answers (Q&A) on U.S. Supreme Court Case Decision Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1.”

The Q&A interprets the Endrew F. case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the standards for determining when students with disabilities are receiving sufficient educational benefits to satisfy the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).  The Endrew F. decision was issued by the Supreme Court on March 22, 2017.  (See our Endrew F. summary posted below.)

The Q&A issued today by ED summarizes the facts and history of Endrew F., and discusses the standards articulated by the Supreme Court in Endrew F.  With regard to the Endrew F. standards, ED’s Q&A emphasizes that:

  • The IDEA “requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”
  • A student’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances.”
  • “The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.”

In addition, the Q&A provides interpretations relating to certain phrases used in the Court’s decision.  ED states that the “reasonably calculated” standard “recognizes that developing an appropriate IEP requires a prospective judgment by the IEP Team. Generally, this means that school personnel will make decisions that are informed by their own expertise, the progress of the child, the child’s potential for growth, and the views of the child’s parents.”  With regard to the phrase “progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances,” ED emphasizes that IEP teams are required to engage in individualized decision-making, which is “particularly important when writing annual goals and other IEP content because the IEP must aim to enable the child to make progress.”

The Q&A also addresses how IEP teams can ensure that every child has the chance to meet challenging objectives, how IEP teams can determine if IEP annual goals are appropriately ambitious, and how IEP teams can implement the Endrew F. standard for children with significant cognitive disabilities.  Additional questions and answers in the Q&A include information relative to responding to a student’s lack of progress, addressing the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, making placement decisions consistent with the Endrew F. standards, and determining what policies and procedures may need to be changed based upon Endrew F.

ED’s Questions and Answers document can be accessed here:  https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-endrewcase-12-07-2017.pdf

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas Co. School District Re-1 can be found here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-827_0pm1.pdf

Should you have any questions about ED’s Q&A and how it may impact your current policies, procedures, or practices, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail or by phone at (630) 313-4750.