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The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that students with a disability are provided with a free, appropriate, public education tailored specifically to their individual needs.

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Prior to the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, U.S. Public Schools accommodated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. In fact, many states had laws that explicitly excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school.

What is IDEA?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. It ensures that students with a disability are provided with a free, appropriate, public education tailored specifically to their individual needs.

The History Behind IDEA

Legislation in 1973 provided for the establishment of vocational rehabilitation services, with special emphasis on services to those with the most severe disabilities. In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). This required public schools to evaluate handicapped children and, along with parental input, create an educational plan that would mirror as closely as possible the curriculum and overall educational experience of non-disabled students.

In 1990, the EHA was replaced with The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in order to focus more on the individual along with improving their post-education opportunities.

The Six Pillars of IDEA

Key to the legislation are six pillars that ensure a child’s education needs and progress are met with:

  1. Individualized Education Program (IEP). The roadmap of the student’s educational program. It is designed to meet the child’s unique educational needs as determined by parents, educators and others who can assist in designing an appropriate course of study.
  2. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Assurance that the student, regardless of disability, receives the same general education as his peers.
  3. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Integrating special needs students into regular classrooms to the maximum extent possible.
  4. Appropriate Evaluation. Evaluation standards that ensure the student is placed correctly, his/her progress assessed at regular intervals and receives additional help as needed.
  5. Parent and Teacher Participation. Regular, consistent and cooperative communication between parents and educators, with an eye towards student progress and growth.
  6. Procedural Safeguards. Parents understanding their rights and responsibilities and the mechanisms by which they may review progress, be involved and mediate disputes.

Part B vs. Part C

IDEA is comprised of two main parts:

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