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Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

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What is LRE?

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is based on the presumption that the general education environment is the first choice for educating all individuals.

LRE  refers to a related set of requirements aimed at providing individuals with disabilities:

  • the greatest interaction with children, youth and adults without disabilities;
  • an appropriate education; and
  • the special assistance needed for success in the general education environment.

LRE is not contingent on funding issues.

LRE Considerations for School Age Students

LRE considerations an IEP team must address for school age students include:

  • the services the student needs;
  • the supplementary aides and supports needed by the student;
  • the environment as well as what occurs in that environment;
  • the general education curriculum;
  • instruction;
  • a review of the appropriateness and educational benefit of each service and environment being considered for the individual
  • academic opportunities and settings that nondisabled individuals experience; and
  • nonacademic and extracurricular activities in which nondisabled individual participate.

Supplementary Aides and Supports

Supplementary aids and services are aids, services, and supports that enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.

These aids, services and supports can be provided in:

  • general education environments,
  • education–related settings, (field trips, work experience sites)
  • extracurricular settings, and
    • Athletics, Clubs, School Plays, etc
  • nonacademic settings.
    • School Dances, School sponsored activities

Examples of supplementary aids and services include:

  • Educational Interpreters
  • One on one paraprofessionals
  • Health Services (catheterization)

LRE Considerations for Preschool Children

The IEP team must determine whether a preschool program provides:

  • services that provide educational benefit to meet the needs of the child;
  • an environment where appropriate activities occur for children of similar age without disabilities;
  • a general education curriculum; and
  • a setting where at least 50% of the children are of similar age without disabilities.
The program is required to meet one of the following program standards:
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation;
  • Head Start Program Performance Standards; or
  • Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards (QPPS)

National Association for the Education of Young Children Accreditation

Head Start Program Performance Standards and Other Regulations

Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards  

Appropriate activities are the practices, curriculum and methodology utilized to support children’s learning and development of abilities and achieving milestones.

IEP Teams may collaborate with community partners to provide appropriate educational programming for preschool children.

Supporting Preschoolers in the Least Restrictive Environment

Placements other Than the General Education Environment

The IEP team may determine that a child cannot be educated satisfactorily in the general education environment, even when supplementary aids and services are provided.

Please note that a student should not be removed from education in the general education environment solely because of needed modifications in the general education curriculum. Removal from the general education environment would only occur because the specific needs of the student cannot be met.

Placements should be made as close as possible to the child’s home and in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled. IEP teams need to carefully consider the impact of separating the child from neighborhood friends and acquaintances.

Continuum of Placements

LEAs must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the special education and related services needs of eligible individuals. The continuum of  placements includes the provision of special education services in:

  • general education classes
  • special classes
  • special or separate schools
  • service provider location
  • home
  • hospitals
  • residential facilities

Least Restrictive Environment Questions

The team establishing the student’s placement must answer the following questions:

  1. What accommodations, modifications and adaptations does the individual require to be successful in the general education environment?
  2. Why is it not possible for these accommodations, modifications and adaptations be provided within the general education environment? 
  3. What supports are needed to assist the teacher and other personnel in providing these accommodations, modifications and adaptations?
  4. How will receipt of special education services and activities in the general education environment impact this individual?
  5. How will the provision of special education services and activities in the general education environment impact other students?

Accommodations

Accommodations are supports or services provided to help a student access the general curriculum and demonstrate learning. Accommodations do not change the playing field.

Examples include:

  • Additional testing time
  • Having assignment read to student

Modifications

Changes made to the context and performance standards for students with disabilities. It changes the playing field for a student.

Examples include:

  • Modifications in performance expectations in general education classes
  • Modified requirements for earning credits

Adaptations

An adaptation to the delivery of instructional methods and intended goals of student performance does not change the content but does slightly change the conceptual difficulty of the curriculum.  Adaptations usually require more teacher effort and time than simply changing instructional methods or access.

Types of Instructional Supports

LRE Question 1

What accommodations, modifications and adaptations does the individual require to be successful in the general education environment?

This question is answered on Page F-Special Education Services.  Accommodations, modifications and adaptations must be listed and described in a manner that makes them understandable to anyone who will be responsible for implementing the IEP.

LRE Question 2

Why is it not possible for these accommodations, modifications and adaptations to be provided within the general education environment?

This question is addressed by answering the following question on page F of the Web IEP.  Will this individual receive all special education services in general education environments?  If no, explanation must be provided that describes why it is not possible for these accommodations, modifications and adaptations to be provided in the general education environment.

LRE Question 3

What supports are needed to assist the teacher and other personnel in providing these accommodations, modifications and adaptations?

This question is addressed by listing and describing the Supports for School Personnel on page F of the Web IEP in a manner that makes them understandable to anyone who will be responsible for implementing the IEP.

LRE Question 4

How will receipt of special education services and activities in the general education environment impact this individual?

This question is addressed in two places.  One is by addressing the behavior consideration on page B. The second is when describing the effect of this individual’s disability on involvement and progress in the general education curriculum and the functional implications of the student’s skills.

LRE Question 5

How will provision of special education services and activities in the general education environment impact other students?

This question is addressed in the effect of the disability on page B.

IEP Team Responsibilities

The IEP team determines the services required to address the individual’s needs and the environments where these services will be provided. The IEP team is responsible for ensuring:

  • Supports are available to teachers and other personnel that allow individuals with disabilities to be educated with their nondisabled peers;
  • All areas of special education, support and related services are considered;
  • All LRE decisions are documented on the IEP form;
  • LRE is considered at least annually.  However, an individual’s needs may change and need to be reconsidered more frequently by the IEP team;
  • The IEP includes an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the individual will not participate with nondisabled individuals in the general education settings and in extracurricular and nonacademic activities; and
  • The LRE is determined with consideration of any potentially harmful effect on the individual, the individual’s peers, and the quality of services that he or she needs.

Special School Placement

Some students must have their special education needs met in special schools which typically only provide programs for students with disabilities. Examples of this type of special school in Iowa include Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, and Smouse or Ruby Van Meter schools in Des Moines.

When some or all of a student’s special education is to be provided in a special school, the IEP team must complete and attach the Special School questions.

Questions are as follows:

  • What are the reasons the eligible individual cannot be provided an education program in an integrated school setting?
  • What supplementary aids and supports are needed to support the eligible individual in the special education program?
  • Why is in not possible for these aids and supports to be provided in an integrated setting?
  • What is the continuum of placements and services available for the eligible individual?

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 17, 2014 at 12:39am.