When the Education of All Handicapped Children’s Act was passed in 1975 (renamed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA] in 1990), it required that schools taking federal money provide equal access to education to all children. At its core, this reform required that schools create Individual Education Plans/Programs (IEPs) for each child with disabilities.
The expectation is that each child will have a truly individualized and hand-crafted educational program aligned to their unique deficits and needs. Although many advocates agreed with the Act’s language and intention, many questioned whether it was truly feasible to individualize the education of millions of students with disabilities nationwide.
Nearly 50 years after IDEA’s initial passage, the jury is still out on whether children with disabilities receive the support, resources, and tools they need. Technology has allowed many advances but does not always improve the status quo and close achievement gaps. In fact, if not used correctly, technology can cause us to regress. For example, researchers have found many IEPs labeled with the wrong name. Why is this important? It can mean that practitioners are copying and pasting language from one IEP to the next because they have multiple students, tasks, and requirements to complete. However, this practice violates the premise and principle of individualization. Technology has made it very easy to lift language from one IEP and move it to several others. Ironically, a lack of technology actually forced us to be more individualized.
All this said, however, technology does have the capacity to accelerate special education more than any other single entity or advancement. Let’s Go Learn’s digital system reflects best practices in applying technology to advanced tasks. The system provides highly diagnostic tools with its granular digital diagnostic assessment. Diagnostic reporting is organized to support Individualized Education Program (IEP) requirements: goals, benchmarks, and PLAAFP/present level equivalencies for all subskills. With next-generation tools, teachers can focus on creating the optimal individualized plan rather than on statistical analysis.