Standards-Based Individualized Education Program Guidance

Standards-Based Individualized Education Program (IEP) Process Guidance 

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Guidance on Free Appropriate Public (FAPE), dated November 16, 2015, clarifies that individualized education programs (IEPs) for children with disabilities must be aligned with state academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled.  

The standards-based IEP process is based on the belief that students with disabilities can make progress on challenging goals aligned to the general education curriculum at the enrolled grade level with specially designed services and supports. Special education is not a separate and special place for learning, but services and supports that are individually designed to help students access the general education program. Students may be accessing the curriculum at different levels of complexity, at different paces, and/or in different ways, but they should all be working toward rigorous goals. 

When designing a standards-based IEP for a student, the IEP is aligned to a student’s enrolled grade level or chronological age, including children younger than kindergarten age. The required general education curriculum used in Texas public schools for grades kindergarten -12 is the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines address content standards for children in prekindergarten or age 4. The Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines address content standards for children ages 0-3.  

TEA’s Child Find, Evaluation, and ARD Supports network has developed a Question and Answer Document: Individualized Education Program (IEP) Measurable Annual Goals that provides guidance and best practices to local education agencies (LEAs) regarding ways to approach writing annual IEP goals that ensure involvement and progress in the student’s grade-level academic standards.  


State Resources 

 The following are state resources related to the development of the IEP:

National Resources

  • The PROGRESS Center provides information, resources, and support for local educators and leaders responsible for the development and implementation of high-quality educational programming for students with disabilities that ensures access to free appropriate public education (FAPE) and progress toward appropriately ambitious goals.  

  • The IRIS Center offers two online training modules for developing High-Quality IEPs 

  • The National Center on Educational Outcomes, under its Standards & Accountability tab, provides information about standards-based IEPs, where the IEP team considers state content standards as it develops IEP goals.