In a nutshell what the researchers found was:
The researchers then considered the emerging research on positive student outcomes when instruction and IEP goals are tied to state standards. They draw some interesting conclusions:
In this study, we found that, regardless of age, students in non inclusion settings were more likely to have goals addressing procedural skills rather than applied skills, suggesting they were likewise not receiving instruction in the applied use of these skills. In terms of quality-of-life outcomes, the ability to solve problems and apply knowledge has broad implications. Applied instruction and learning advances competence and independence in that students learn to identify, solve, and self monitor the problems and potential solution in their own lives...
By providing instruction in IEP goals along with instruction in core curriculum, students with autism are provided instruction that targets individualized, functional needs, while accessing and participating in a challenging curriculum. Thus, aligning IEP goals to content standards is not inconsistent with providing a unique, special education to students with autism, nor is it an expectation that students with autism should perform at grade level. Rather alignment ensures that instruction is based on a challenging core curriculum that will enable the student to make academic progress at his or her individual level.