Individualized education program (IEP) goals are meant to be personalized to address the unique needs of students with disabilities, while also reflecting the student’s grade-aligned general education curriculum. IEP goals describe what, how, and where students with disabilities are taught, and reflect the curriculum used to provide instruction. In this study, we analyzed how IEP goals align with the different curricular philosophies for students with severe disabilities. Using a sample of 88 IEPs for students with complex support needs (i.e., severe disabilities) in Grades K-12, we found most goals (57%) reflect curricular philosophies of the 1970s–1990s (i.e., developmental, functional, and social inclusion) eras, with only 26% of IEP goals representative of modern curricular philosophies (i.e., grade-aligned academic content). We also found secondary-aged students were less likely to have grade-aligned academic goals compared to elementary-aged students. We offer implications for ensuring individualization and goals reflecting skills needed for the 21st century.
- Individualized education program
- Severe disabilities
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