Special Education Reform

A Shared Path to Success

The Department of Education is committed to increasing educational opportunities and improving outcomes for students with disabilities through A Shared Path to Success initiativesOur goals are to ensure that all students with IEPs:

  • have access to a rigorous academic curriculum and are held to high academic standards, enabling them to fully realize their potential and graduate prepared for independent living, college, and careers;
  • are taught in the "least restrictive environment" that is academically appropriate, and, as often as possible, alongside students without disabilities;
  • receive special education services that are targeted and provide the appropriate level of support throughout the school day; and
  • are able to attend their zoned schools or the school of their choice, while still receiving the supports they need to succeed.


The special education reform began in February of 2010 with 10 networks and approximately 260 schools that made a commitment to educating students with disabilities in their community schools in the student’s least restrictive environment, to the greatest extent possible.  Beginning in September 2012 all schools will educate the majority of students with disabilities in their community schools.


Students with disabilities will access the general education curriculum using the full continuum of special education services, in the least restrictive environment appropriate by:

  • Development of high quality IEPs
  • Providing equity of access to schools and classrooms
  • Providing access to the common core standards

Guiding Principles

  1. Every school should educate and embrace the overwhelming majority of students with disabilities. A cohort of students with low-incidence disabilities or highly specialized needs will continue to be clustered in specialized instructional programs in community and/or specialized schools. 
  2. Hold all schools and students with disabilities accountable for goals that are standards-based. IEPs should reflect the Common Core Standards and emphasize long-term educational outcomes. 
  3. All schools should have the curricular, instructional, and scheduling flexibility needed to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities with accountability outcomes. 
  4. School accountability measures, funding formulas, and enrollment policies and practices will be aligned with the foregoing principles. 
  5. Schools must be active partners with parents of students with disabilities.

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