Considerations in Placement Decisions for Students With Extensive Support Needs: An Analysis of LRE Statements

Jennifer A. Kurth, Andrea L. Ruppar, Samantha Gross Toews, Katie M. McCabe, Jessica A. McQueston, Russell Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Special education consists of specially designed services available for students with disabilities, and should be available across placements. Students with the most significant disabilities continue to be taught in restrictive settings, despite accumulating evidence suggesting their special education services can be delivered effectively in general education settings. Every individualized education program (IEP) must contain a statement describing how the student will be provided a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. The present study used content analysis to examine least restrictive environment statements of 88 students’ IEPs to determine what factors, including supplementary aids and services, were considered in making placement decisions. We further analyzed the classes and activities in which students participated in general education settings. Findings reveal supplementary aids and services were not considered in placement decisions, although a number of factors centering on curricular considerations, environmental demands, student deficit, and personnel requirements were noted in making placement decisions. We further found students primarily participated in non-academic instruction while in general education settings. Implications for policy, practice, and research are included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalResearch and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • inclusion
  • individualized education programs
  • least restrictive environment
  • severe disabilities
  • supplementary aids and services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Health Professions
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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