California Technical Assistance and Training



Implementation of Programs and Services for Students with Disabilities in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Revised: October 2010

Revised by Dona Meinders, WestEd, LRE Resources Project


The revision of the LRE Core Message Area was based on federal technical assistance information provided by the Regional Resource and Federal Centers Network, which are funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) Calendar was developed to assist states in writing their SPP and APR documents and to help states provide technical assistance to local education agencies. This federal resource was utilized in revising California’s LRE Core Message Areas, which identified key factors to consider to improve LRE in schools: educational infrastructure, instructional strategies and materials, school culture and leadership, and parent and family participation.

In addition, the categories of the LRE Core Message Area are based on research-validated practices, which are evident in high achieving schools and have been replicated for school reform efforts. These strategies have also been found to promote the conditions that improve learning for all students and should be used to influence Individualized Education Program (IEP) decisions for Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
Resources and Web sites

Background on Core Message Area:
A focus of past (1999 – 2013) federally funded State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG), awarded to the California Department of Education was to communicate common messages to the field about selected topics. These common, or core messages, articulate critical research findings and essential components of effective application. All core messages have been identified by experts in the field and have been approved by the California Department of Education, Special Education Division.

California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT), continues to utilize these core messages by supporting trainings and technical assistance, ( requests that reflect any or all of the Core Message Areas. After reading the Core Message Area topics on Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), just select any of the Resources and Web site links listed after each topic to view the messages and supporting research.

  1. Educational Infrastructure
    Providing FAPE in the LRE requires appropriate physical environments for instruction and that school and district structures and resources appropriately support individualized student learning needs. Tools are available to assist in analysis of policies and procedures, facility planning, resource allocation, collaboration between special education and general education staff, and accountability that reflects high expectations for all students, including those with disabilities.
    Resources and Web sites
  1. Instructional Capacity
    Educators need knowledge, skills, and support to provide quality instruction and services to students with disabilities. Access to core curriculum for students with disabilities starts with high quality, evidenced-based instructional practices and IEP goals aligned to state standards. Teachers utilize appropriate accommodations, universal design for learning, accessibility adaptations and technology, and differentiated instruction.
    Resources and Web sites
  1. School Culture and Leadership
    Strong leadership and a positive school culture provide support for all students to succeed in academic and behavioral areas. A positive school climate is culturally responsive with both administrative and teacher leaders striving to create and nurture an inclusive learning environment where all students can thrive.
    Resources and Web sites
  1. Family and Community Engagement
    Students thrive in environments where family and school goals are aligned and communities are actively engaged. Parents and families bring critical knowledge of their children’s strengths and needs to the IEP planning and decision making process and are essential partners with schools in support of the implementation of IEPs. Additionally, parents and family members serve in leadership roles at the site and district levels, providing leadership and guidance to policy and procedural development.
    Resources and Web sites


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