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Student’s progress of one grade level over the course of an academic year was sufficient educational benefit, although she remained well below grade level overall.

High v. Exeter Township School District, 54 IDELR 17 (E.D. Pa. 2010):  A U.S. District Court determined a program developed by a high school provided a FAPE to a student with significant reading delays.  The school district’s program helped the student to move from a fifth grade reading level to a sixth grade reading level during her eleventh grade academic year.  The Court said that her parents “could not have reasonably expected the District to close a six-year gap in her reading ability in one year.”  Since “the parents of a child without a learning disability could expect no more” than one year’s worth of progress, the student’s progress demonstrated that her IEP provided a meaningful educational benefit.

Although the parents admitted that the student’s progress was more than trivial, they argued that the IEP was still deficient because the school district did not develop a sufficient transition plan, and did not provide an extended school year or assistive technology.  Namely, the parents argued that since the student wanted to attend college, she would not have the skills necessary to achieve that transition goal.  However, the Court rejected that argument, and determined that the student had been provided with a sufficient transition plan.  The Court focused on the significant support the school provided the student (including multiple meetings with a transition counselor, assistance with applying for the PSAT and SAT tests (including seeking accommodations for both), and arranging for job shadowing opportunities).  The Court further determined that, the student did not demonstrate a need for assistive technology, and, in light of the student’s progress, an extended school year was not necessary.  Therefore, the Court found that the school district provided the student a FAPE.

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