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Post IDEA ’97 Case Law and Administrative Decisions: Access to the General Curriculum

Policy Brief

Joanne Karger


National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC)




Case law and administrative proceedings following the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA are analyzed in order to ascertain how the statutory requirements associated with access, involvement, and progress have been interpreted by courts and hearing officers. In the first section, a brief background of case law prior to IDEA ’97 is discussed, interpreting the important concepts of free appropriate public education (FAPE) and least restrictive environment (LRE). In section two, a discussion of the proceedings relating to the right to have access to the general curriculum are presented. In section three, the interpretation of claims pertaining to involvement in the general curriculum that have been brought under FAPE and LRE. Section four focuses on the interpretation of progress in the general curriculum as it relates to the participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessments. Section five interprets student progress in the general curriculum. A theoretical framework is utilized to conceptualize the overall right to access to the general curriculum. In the first stage, access, post ’97 cases and hearing have concluded that the meaning of access to the general curriculum will depend on the particular curriculum of the state or district. In the second stage, involvement, post ’97 cases and hearings reveal that courts have tended to hold districts to a minimal standard of sufficiency. In the third stage, progress, examination of post ’97 cases reveal that states are struggling with the inclusion of students with disabilities in statewide assessments, particularly with respect to the use of appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments.

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Cite As

Karger, J. (2004). Post IDEA ’97 case law and administrative decisions: Access to the general curriculum. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved [insert date] from

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