The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the law that provisions service and support 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. The overall goal being improved student achievement by providing increased access to the the educational environment and the right to be educated with non-disabled peers (inclusional approach) as much as is possible.
What Are IDEA's 9 Basic Steps?
- The child is identified as potentially requiring special education support. (Teacher notices or parent of pre-schooler 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.
- The Child is Then Evaluated. The evaluation will include the school team and the parent. IDEA states that t"he evaluation must gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent.
- After evaluation, the eligibility is determined. 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.
- An Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting is scheduled. The IEP meeting must be scheduled within 30 days of the determination of the eligibility. More about IEPs here.
- The IEP is Written. This will give you some ideas of what will be contained in the IEP.
- The Plan is Carried Out - Services Are Provided. In other words, the child is now receiving special education supports to ensure he/she reaches their full academic potential.
- Ongoing measurement of progress and reporting to parents. It is important to ensure the child is making progress based on the IEP within the timeframes established.
- The IEP is reviewed. 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.
- Reevaluation. 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.
To see the IDEA regulations, this link provides the detailed information but takes some time to load.