To provide the parents of students with disabilities with extensive information, resources, and support throughout the IEP process so they can best advocate for their child.
Why Do This?
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities are guaranteed the right to a “free, appropriate public education” (FAPE) that is to be provided through an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Although IEPs have been utilized in the public education system for decades now, the results of these individualized programs have been varied, and many students with disabilities are not receiving an educational opportunity that is equivalent to that of students without disabilities. As a result, students with disabilities graduate from high school, find employment, and pursue higher education at alarmingly lower rates than their non-disabled peers. A student with a disability is 20% less likely to graduate high school, 50% less likely to find employment, and 18% less likely to graduate from college than a student without a disability. Simply because a student is identified as having a disability should NOT mean that the elementary and secondary educational experiences of the student limit their future opportunities.
Why Target the IEP Process?
REACH has chosen to focus specifically on the IEP process because we believe that the difference in high school graduation, employment, and educational attainment rates demonstrate that students with disabilities are not currently receiving the unique resources they need in order to be given an opportunity to succeed in their educational environment and in the future. Since the unique requirements of students with disabilities are almost entirely provided through the student’s IEP, we hope that by improving this process for both students and their families, we will help students with disabilities receive educational and future opportunities that are truly equivalent to those of students without disabilities.
High School Graduation Rates — National Center for Education Statistics; EDFacts Data Groups 695 and 696, School year 2013–14; September 4, 2015.
Employment Rates — U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2015.
Educational Attainment — U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics, 2014.