Differences and Similarities Between LRE and FAPE

With the varying needs that these disabled individuals have, a diverse set of provisions may be needed. Addressing the same, IDEA came up with concepts like LRE and FAPE

While both of these are focused on special conditions of students, there are a set of similarities and differences between them. Marking out the important postulates of these can make the decision a fitting choice easier. Read through this post to study all about LRE and FAPE including their likeness and divergence. 

LRE- A brief comprehension

LRE is an acronym for Least Restrictive Environment.  This legal term in the Disabilities Education Act describes that children should be educated to the maximum extent possible alongside similar classmates and have access to the general education curriculum. LRE advocates for a sense of equality. 

Any form of the separate educational environment occurs only when the severity of the disability is such that education in general classes with additional aids can’t be achieved. IDEA’s policy states that the level of an LRE a child should receive is unique to their individual needs. Consequently,  it is imposed on the child’s individual academic programing.

Different types of LRE :

The needs of each student are subjective. For this reason, there are no definitive regulations to shape the LRE implementation. The ultimate motto is to make sure that the child gets maximized value from general education and restrict them as little as possible. Accordingly here are some crucial parts/types of LRE underemployment:

  • Complete inclusion (or) Co-teaching: If the child is recorded to be able to cope with the regular pedagogies and schooling style, they are placed with other peers completely. Some assistive aids or accommodations are added as a bonus if needed. 
  • Special programs: If the mentors feel that the student needs special care, instead of letting them in regular classrooms they are offered individualized training to let them gradually align with other schoolfellows.  
  • Partial Participation: Here, the special student is not completely exposed to regular schooling.  This means that they are placed in regular classes for selected hours. The rest of the gaps are filled with personalized approaches like Orton-Gillingham. This approach lies somewhere midway between complete inclusion and special schooling. 

Broadly, these are the three types of LRE implementation. This process can be changed after an annual revision based on the student’s progress. 

What is FAPE?

FAPE stands for Free Appropriate Public Education. It is an educational entitlement guaranteed by IDEA to all eligible disabled students in the United States. It is a civil right under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which instructs schools to provide students with disabilities with special education and related services at public expense. This Act protects the rights of the individual with disabilities in education and activities who receives federal financial assistance. The Section 504 regulation requires a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s disability.

To provide FAPE, schools must provide students with an “… education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. 

What makes LRE and FAPE similar?

Both LRE and FAPE are assistive provisions for disabled and eligible candidates in school. Here are a set of similarities worth comprehending:

  • Both LRE and FAPE come under the umbrella of IDEA provisions
  • Both of these ensure the legal right of the disabled persons to get appropriate education
  • The age of application of these provisions is from 3 to 21. Basically, the idea is to assist the candidate throughout their academic learning period. 
  • The objectives of both these provisions are recorded as a part of the IEP

LRE and FAPE possess similarities as they both mandate how specially-abled children need to be educated. They address the assistance for the disabled. Both aim to provide the disabled with the same level of education and opportunities so that special students won’t feel alienated from their counterparts. 

How are LRE and FAPE distinct?

While there are multiple similarities between LRE and FAPE, there are a few differences in their essence and implementation as well. Let’s check out some crucial insights in this context:

  • FAPE is more focused on financial assistance to the special child by taking care of additional costs due to assistive aids and special training. Whereas, LRE is focused on creating an equitable environment for special children in school. 
  • FAPE is the legal right for the special student to have the same education as other peers. On the other hand, LRE is the setting in the school premises to ensure FAPE for needed candidates.
  • FAPE has comparatively definitive guidelines to ensure the right. But, LRE needs scene-specific guidelines and strategies for changing trends and needs. Accordingly, the ARD (Admission Review and Dismissal) committee conducts annual conferences to enhance LRE implementation. 
  • FAPE ensures that the special students are assisted at no additional cost. But the need and changes in the progress come under the LRE head. According to sec.300.114, look to keep or remove the students in regular classes based on the extent the assistive aids are fruitful in an ordinary environment. 


LRE and FAPE both advocate for the integration of disabled children into the general education system. However, LRE is focused on developing an individualized education plan, whereas FAPE advocates for federal financial assistance for disabled children to attend schools.

Both policies possess similarities due to their focus on one aspect of the educational system: either assistive devices and technology or funding for special needs students. With these insights, it is important to infer that both these strategies go hand in hand complementing each other to legally empower and assure special children with appropriate education under the umbrella of IDEA. 

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