Core Concepts &
Congress enacted the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997
(IDEA-97), they issued a "wake up call" to school boards and
school administrators -- improve special education outcomes!
Special education is "a service for children, not a place where
they are sent."
emphasizes three core concepts:
the involvement and progress of each child with a disability
in the general curriculum including addressing the unique needs
that arise out of the childs disability;
(2) the involvement
of parents and students, together with regular and special education
personnel, in making individual decisions to support each
students educational success, and
the preparation of students with disabilities for employment
and other post-school activities.
Here are some
highlights of IDEA 97 -
Must Use Effective Practices and Research-Based Methods
Must Use Effective Early Intervention Techniques
of Parents and Teachers Strengthened
Must Have "Measurable Annual Goals" to Monitor the Childs
Must Be Included in All Decisions About Evaluations, Eligibility,
Concerns and Information Must be Considered in Developing IEPs
Must Be Advised About Childs Progress or Lack of Progress Toward
Education Teachers Are Members of the IEP Team
with Disabilities Will Be Integrated into Regular Education Classes
with Disabilities Will Be Involved in the General Curriculum
IDEA-97 was enacted, special education often focused on "school issues"
- teaching children to conform to school rules and learning what is expected
of them in the student role.
Is this the purpose of special education? Not
according to IDEA 97.
found that "Improving educational results for children with
disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring
equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic
self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities." (20 U.S.C. Section
Special Education Law, p. 19)
Congress also found
that special education has been "impeded by low expectations,
and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods
of teaching and learning for children with disabilities." More than
20 years of research has demonstrated that special education can be
more effective by:
- having high expectations
for such children and ensuring their access to the general curriculum
to the maximum extent possible
- strengthening the
role of parents and ensuring that families have meaningful opportunities
to participate in their children's education at school and at home
- ensuring that children
benefit from education and that special education can become a service
for children, not a place where they are sent
- providing special
education and related services and aids and supports in the regular
classroom whenever appropriate
- ensuring that all
personnel who work with children have skills and knowledge and receive
high-quality, intensive professional development
- providing pre-referral
interventions to reduce the need to label children as disabled in order
to provide services (20 U.S.C. Section 1400(c)(5). (Wrightslaw:
Special Education Law, p.20-21)
must be taught basic reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic skills
so they can work, continue their education, and live independently.
IDEA 97 requires schools to provide transition services so children will
be prepared for life after school.
The citations in this article are from Wrightslaw:
Special Education Law,
published in 1999 by Harbor
House Law Press.