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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (Sec. 300.320(a)(1))

Comment: A few commenters stated that Sec. 300.320(a)(1) requires an IEP to include a statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement, and recommended that the regulations define "academic achievement."

Discussion: "Academic achievement" generally refers to a child's performance in academic areas (e.g., reading or language arts, math, science, and history). We believe the definition could vary depending on a child's circumstance or situation, and therefore, we do not believe a definition of "academic achievement" should be included in these regulations.

Changes: None.

Comment: Some commenters recommended that the regulations clarify that not every child requires a functional performance statement or functional annual goals. Some commenters stated that requiring functional assessments for all children places an unnecessary burden on an LEA, does not add value for every child, and creates a potential for increased litigation. One commenter recommended that Sec. 300.320(a)(1), regarding the child's present levels of performance, and Sec. 300.320(a)(2), regarding measurable annual goals, clarify that functional performance and functional goals should be included in a child's IEP only if determined appropriate by the child's IEP Team.

Discussion: We cannot make the changes requested by the commenters. Section 614(d)(1)(A)(i)(I) of the Act requires an IEP to include a statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter requested that the regulations require a child's present levels of performance to be aligned with the child's annual goals. Another commenter stated that the content of the IEP should be aligned with the State's core curriculum content standards and the knowledge and skills needed for children with disabilities to become independent, productive, and contributing members of their communities and the larger society.

Discussion: The IEP Team's determination of how the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general education curriculum is a primary consideration in the development of the child's annual IEP goals. Section 300.320(a)(1)(i), consistent with section 614(d)(1)(A)(i)(I)(aa) of the Act, requires the statement of a child's present levels of performance in the IEP to include how the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. This directly corresponds with the provision in Sec. 300.320(a)(2)(i)(A) and section 614(d)(1)(A)(i)(II)(aa) of the Act, which requires the IEP to include measurable annual goals designed to meet the child's needs that result from the child's disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum. We do not believe further clarification is needed regarding the alignment of a child's present levels of performance with the child's annual goals.

With regard to the alignment of the IEP with the State's content standards, Sec. 300.320(a)(1)(i) clarifies that the general education curriculum means the same curriculum as all other children. Therefore, an IEP that focuses on ensuring that the child is involved in the general education curriculum will necessarily be aligned with the State's content standards. Congress acknowledged, in section 601(c)(5)(A) of the Act, that ensuring access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, is also effective in preparing children with disabilities to lead productive and independent adult lives. We do not believe further clarification is necessary to address the commenters' concerns.

Changes: None.