The Supreme Court has unanimously raised education standards for students with disabilities around the United States. The 8-0 decision further specified teaching requirements, stating that a child’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives” whether they are learning in or out of regular education classrooms, The Washington Post reports.
The case began in a lower court, when parents of a child with autism and attention deficit disorder argued that the Colorado Department of Education should pay their son’s private school tuition, because the public school education was allegedly inadequate, The Atlantic reports. The courts ruled in favor of the school district, citing the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The act ensures that children with special needs have “free appropriate public education.” When the case headed to the Supreme Court, the justices ruled in favor of the parents, further specifying IDEA.
A recent study showed that 96% of parents believe that proper instruction can make up for the limitations of a learning disability. The Supreme Court seems to agree. The court’s ruling eliminates the possibility of a blanket IEP, or Individual Education Plan. The Atlantic reports that educators are now fully required to base an IEP off of individual strengths and weaknesses, fostering an opportunity for actual academic improvement.
Chief Justice John Roberts signed the opinion of the case, which read, “It cannot be right that the IDEA generally contemplates grade-level advancement for children with disabilities who are fully integrated in the regular classroom, but is satisfied with barely more than de minimis progress for children who are not.”
In the United States, there are approximately 5.5 million students enrolled in private schools, according to the National Center for Education. This compares to the about 50.4 million students enrolled in public schools. Because of this ruling, students learning in both systems should have equal opportunity for advancement.
“The impact will be positive,” Lindsay Jones, a vice president of the National Center for Learning Disabilities said in a statement to The Atlantic. “The court clearly states that special-education children shouldn’t just be in the room. They must advance appropriately.”