What is the FAPE standard under the IDEA?

Published: April 27th, 2017

In March 2017, the US Supreme Court, in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, clarified the FAPE standard and ruled unanimously that IEPs must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Court rejected the petitioner’s view that the IDEA requires schools to provide educational opportunities for children with disabilities that are “substantially equal to the opportunities afforded [to] children without disabilities.” However, the Court also rejected the view that schools, in order to meet their obligations under the IDEA, only have to provide “merely more than de minimis” education program to a student with a disability. The Court ruled that the “de minimis” test is not demanding enough, and said cogently that “[i]t 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.”