TEC §28.0216 requires that school district grading policies:

“(1) must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the students’ relative mastery of an assignment; [and]

(2) may not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the student’s quality of work.”

These rules apply to classroom assignments, examinations, and overall grades for each grading period. Because of this, teachers may not assign a grade based on effort, and schools cannot pass a student who has not mastered the curriculum. Since goals can be either academic or functional in nature, they either serve as a “link” to grade level standards, or they serve to help a student “access” grade-level standards. In this case, IEP goals remain supplementary to grade-level standards. Because of this, mastery of an IEP goal does not constitute passing a course, and passing a course does not equate to mastering an IEP goal.

TEC §28.021(a) requires that a school determines a student’s promotion from one grade level to the next “only on the basis of academic achievement or demonstrated proficiency of the subject matter of the course or grade level.” For a student who receives special education services, the ARD committee, which includes the parent, makes the promotion/retention decision, but must base the decision on the student’s mastery of the curriculum, not on his/her behavior or the amount of effort he/she puts into assignments. This decision may or may not include mastery of specific IEP goal(s) related to the required curriculum and must follow the LEA’s policies related to promotion/retention.

The material in this post was excerpted from Grading and Progress Monitoring for Students with Disabilities: A Resource for Teachers by Education Service Center, Region 20.  You can read and download this resource at