|Home > Law > IDEA 2004 > Why I Am Optimistic About IDEA 2004 by Pete Wright|
When I was nine years old, I got into a bloody schoolyard fight with another boy because he called me names. What name did he call me that caused me to go ballistic and throw the first punch?
I didn't know what "optimist" meant. I was sure it was the worst of the bad words so I let him have it - a straight right to the nose, blood splattered.
Imagine my surprise when I learned what the word meant - and what I had done.
Congress enacted IDEA 2004 in November. The President signed it into law on December 3, 2004.
The IDEA 2004 Statute
At that time, I went through the reauthorized statute - line by line, hour after hour, for days.
I wrote the comparison of IDEA 97 to IDEA 2004 which was published on Wrightslaw.
(Pam checked the statistics - this document has been downloaded 62,352 times)
Initially, my view of IDEA 2004 was negatively influenced by the reactions of others. As I continued to read the law and think about it, I saw more positives.
2004 Regulations: Proposed - 97 pages in pdf
this time, Pam and I were working around the clock on Wrightslaw:
IDEA 2004. We wanted to make this publication available before
IDEA 2004 went into effect on July 1, 2005.
After reading the law, the proposed regulations, and the explanations and commentary about the regulations, I feel even better about IDEA 2004.
I believe IDEA 2004 can be a powerful tool to improve educational results for our children.
& Purposes Expanded
Note: "Purposes" are in Section 1400(d) of IDEA. (Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004, page 33).
Developmental Goals & Challenging Expections: Productive, Independent Lives
In Findings, Congress described obstacles to implementing IDEA:
" . . . implementation of this title 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." (Section 1400(c)(4))
Congress found that over 30 years of research and experience demonstrated that special education would be more effective by:
"having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to meet the developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible." (Section 1400(c)(4)
The language about access to general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to meet the developmental goals and the challenging expectations that have been established for all children is new in IDEA 2004.
Note: Findings are in Section 1400(c) of IDEA. (Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004, pages 29-33)
New Requirements for Transition & Transition Services
Congress made major revisions to the requirements for transition in IDEA 2004.
The definition of "Transition Services" was changed to a "results oriented process" that improves "the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment . . ."
Transition services must be based on the individual child's needs, including the child's strengths, preferences, and interests . . ."
Note: The full text of the definition of "Transition Services" is in Section 1401(34). (Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004, page 42.)
Measurable Transition Goals Based on Transition Assessments in IEPs
Beginning July 1, 2005, the first IEP after the child is 16 (and updated annually) must include:
"appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills . . . and the transtion services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching these goals."
Note: The full text of the transition requirements in IEPs is in Section 1414(d)(1)(A). (Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004, pages 91-92)
Improving Educational Results & Outcomes
As I continued to read the law and the proposed regulations, I felt more optimistic. The changes clarified that the purpose of special education is to prepare children for life after school - including college and good jobs.
There are other changes in IDEA 2004 that cause me to feel optimistic including the emphasis on research based instruction. I'll discuss these changes in articles that will be published in The Special Ed Advocate over the next few weeks.
line: As a litigator, I do not feel gloom and doom
about IDEA 2004.
More Articles about IDEA 2004
Will IEPs Change Under IDEA 2004? New language in IDEA
2004 is designed to ensure that children with disabilities are taught
by highly qualified teachers and receive research based instruction.
This article focuses on new requirements for personnel training, IEPs,
and scientifically based instruction.