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Friday 19 Jan 2018


What is the Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA)?

IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years. The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004, with final regulations published in August 2006.

IDEA is divided into four parts, as follows:

  • Part A – General Provisions
  • Part B – Assistance for Education of All Children with Disabilities (3-22)
  • Part C – Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (0-3)
  • Part D – National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the law that provides services and supports to children with disabilities throughout the US. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to US children. IDEA, ensures that children with disabilities receive a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE). This means that schools will provide Students who are eligible (have a disability) with specialize supports/instruction that will address their academic needs in the least restrictive environment. IDEA provides States with the regulations, guidelines and requirements to support them to design and implement programs in special education.

View the full law: PL 108-446


This component of the law gives money to states to provide services for eligible children and youth with disabilities (ages 3-22), including the rules and regulations that states and school systems must follow to receive funds from the federal government.

This section of the law outlines:

  • evaluating children and determining eligibility for services
  • notifying and involving parents
  • working with parents to write IEPs
  • providing services
  • resolving conflicts between parents and the school system
  • providing accessible text to students under NIMAS

View Part B Regulations: IDEA 2004

For more information visit: NICHCY Website


Congress established this program in 1986 in recognition of “an urgent and substantial need” to:

  • enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities;
  • reduce educational costs by minimizing the need for special education through early intervention;
  • minimize the likelihood of institutionalization, and maximize independent living; and,
  • enhance the capacity of families to meet their child’s needs.

The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of IDEA) is a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through age 3 years, and their families. In order for a state to participate in the program it must assure that early intervention will be available to every eligible child and its family. Also, the governor must designate a lead agency to receive the grant and administer the program, and appoint an Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC), including parents of young children with disabilities, to advise and assist the lead agency. Currently, all states and eligible territories are participating in the Part C program. Annual funding to each state is based upon census figures of the number of children, birth through 2, in the general population.

View Part C Regulations: IDEA 2004

For more information visit: NICHCY Website

Accessing the General Education Curriculum

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal mandate regarding special education for children with disabilities. Since the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), discussion within the field of special education regarding educating students with disabilities has been focused on ensuring students are accessing the general education curriculum. Although IDEA (1997, 2004) does not specifically state how students will access the general education curriculum, it does stipulate that students with disabilities must have educational programs which enable them to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

The 1997 amendments to IDEA placed emphasis on ensuring students with disabilities are involved and make progress in the general education curriculum (the general curriculum is defined in IDEA as “the same curriculum as for nondisabled students”). According to IDEiA 2004 (the reauthorization of IDEA 1997), each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must provide a statement of:

  • The child’s present level of academic and functional performance, including:
    • How the child’s disability affects their involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.

  • Measurable annual goals, academic and functional, designed to:
    • Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.
    • Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability.

  • The special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child to:
    • Be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

IDEiA (2004) is closely aligned with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2002) to ensure all students with disabilities achieve high standards related to the general education curriculum and participate in state accountability systems along with their typically developing peers. NCLB required states to create standards which are the basis of the accountability system. All students, with and without disabilities, are held accountable to making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards those standards. Most students take standardized test, and the scores from these tests are used to determine how well individual schools are performing. In the cases in which schools are determined to not be making AYP, they are put on improvement plans to increase their students’ success. Since students with significant cognitive disabilities (SCD) are part of the school, their progress also needs to be monitored and their scores figured in to AYP. Since many of the standardized test, however, are not appropriate and would not likely be sensitive to the progress students with SCD have made, most states have created a set of alternate standards, which are a subset of the general education standards, and developed an alternate assessment system for students who are unable to participate in the general assessment (up to 1% of the student population). These scores are combined with the scores of all the other students to ensure that students with SCD and their teachers are also being held accountable for making AYP in relation to the state standards.

State Testing

We get a lot of questions from parents about whether or not they should require their child to participate in their school’s annual testing. Our answer, as it is for most things, is that it depends. Depending on the child and their academic level, they may qualify for the alternative form of the assessment. If not, they will qualify to take the regular version of the test.

We feel that all students should participate in the annual state testing offered by the school because this will give the state information about the education being provided to children with IEPs. In our opinion, it is very important for students with IEPs to be provided with access to and make progress in the general education curriculum…this is their right per the law (IDEA) and it is educationally sound. With our students we have work very hard to make sure that the education they receive is based on the state standards and that it is aligned with the general education curriculum. With this in mind, it only makes sense that they should take the state’s annual test because they are being provided with the same curriculum (even if it is modified).

What ever your decision is, it should be made with the guidance of the IEP team and you should make sure that all of the accommodations made are appropriate and effective for the child. In addition to making sure that all the accommodations are appropriate, the child should be exposed to the testing environment and strategies regularly so all test results are as valid and reliable as possible.

9 Basic Steps of IDEA

  1. The child is identified as potentially requiring special education support.
  2. The teacher may notice a problem or a parent identifies the need. The child presents symptoms or behaviors described in one of the 13 qualifying categories. IDEA also has a section ‘Child Find ‘that requires States to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who will require early intervention or special education services. Parents should get in touch with the State’s agency if they feel their child should be screened.

  3. The Child is Then Evaluated.
  4. The evaluation will include the school team and the parent. IDEA states that the evaluation must gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent

  5. After evaluation, the eligibility is determined.
  6. Qualified professionals and the parent will determine the eligibility. The eligibility may be turned down if there is not enough data to support the eligibility. There is only a yes/no response to eligibility. If the response is no, the parents will be given information about what they can do, should they disagree with the decision.

  7. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting is scheduled.
  8. The IEP meeting must be scheduled within 30 days of the determination of the eligibility.

  9. The IEP is Written.
  10. The Individualized Education Plan is written through a collaborative process amongst the members of the IEP team.

  11. The Plan is Carried Out – Services Are Provided.
  12. In other words, the child is now receiving special education supports to ensure he/she reaches their full academic potential.

  13. Ongoing measurement of progress and reporting to parents.
  14. It is important to ensure the child is making progress based on the IEP within the timeframes established.

  15. The IEP is reviewed.
  16. The IEP is a working document, it only makes sense to review it regularly to ensure that the child’s educational needs are being met. The IEP school team will meet to determine what changes if any need to be made. Parents will always have a copy of the most recent IEP.

  17. Reevaluation.
  18. The main reason for the reevaluation is to determine if the child continues to meet the criteria outlined in IDEA in the 13 categories. Is the child still a child with a disability? This process will not occur anymore than once a year but must occur at least every 3 years. Parents and/or teachers may request a reevaluation.

Procedural Safeguards – Know Your Child’s Rights

If your child receives special education services, then you’ve received a copy of the Procedural Safeguards which outlines your and your child’s right under IDEA. Many times this document will be handed to parents with little to no explanation and many parents laugh about how they’re just going to recycle it. PLEASE don’t do this!! It is vital that you read this document and talk to the special education teacher about what it means in regards to your rights. The only way you are going to know if your child’s rights are being violated is to know your rights in the first place.

View the model form of the procedural safeguards. Each state has their own version of the procedural safeguards; contact your local school district to receive a copy specific to your state.

One Comment

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