A Standards-Based IEP

The standards-based reform movement has focused on improving the quality of instruction in the schools by establishing high standards of achievement and accountability for general education content for all students.  This includes students with disabilities. In order to ensure that students with disabilities access the general education curriculum and achieve at higher levels, a standards-based IEP development process called a "standards-based IEP" has been recommended. The change to using standards-based IEPs has been supported by two federal laws:  1) 2004 reauthorization of IDEA and 2) the federal assessment regulations issued in 2007 under the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) identifying students being assessed on modified academic achievement standards.   IEPs for students participating in modified achievement standards' testing must include IEP goals that are based on the academic content standards for the grade/course in which a student is enrolled and be designed to monitor a student's progress in achieving the student's standards-based goals.

A standards-based IEP describes a process in which the IEP team has incorporated state content standards in its development. The IEP is directly linked to and framed by Virginia's course content Standards of Learning (SOL) for the grade in which the student is enrolled or will be enrolled. Specific accommodations and modifications addressing student needs to access the general education instructional program are included in the standards-based IEP for student's present grade level and course content requirements.

Traditionally, IEPs have focused on a student acquiring basic academic, access and/or functional skills and have had little relationship to a specific academic area or grade-level expectations. In contrast, the process used to develop a standards-based IEP is directly tied to the state's content standards. Both the student's present level of performance and some of the annual IEP goals are aligned with and based on the state's grade-level standards which creates a program that is aimed at getting the student to a proficient level on the state standards.

Excerpts taken from the Guidance Document, Standards-Based IEP, Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education, 2/22/2011