Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004

Whether you are new to special education, or have been around for a while, you're certain to encounter the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) in your professional development.  The 2004 revision of IDEA (which some pronounce just like the word idea, and some pronounce each letter individually, I-D-E-A) is the overarching set of regulations and laws that define and regulate special education programs in the United States.  IDEA is the special education counterpart to the general education No Child Left Behind Act of 2004

IDEA 2004 is the current revision of the US special education regulations initially passed in 1975.  For a brief history of these laws, click here.  The complete name of the current revision to these regulations is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA 2004), but the vast majority of professionals still leave refer it the regulations as IDEA, rather than IDEIA.

There are some great resources on the internet to learn all about IDEA, and I don't feel the need to reinvent the wheel.  I'll just direct you to a couple of them, here and here.  I'm writing this page to give a short synopsis of IDEA.  Here's a bulleted list of things which I find particularly important to share with you now.
  • IDEA is the set of regulations that ensure that special education programs and services for educationally disabled students are provided at no cost to the parents. 
    • In Kansas, gifted) students are provided similar, but not exact services as outlined in IDEA
  • IDEA's arguably most important regulation is the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all students. 
    • FAPE ensures that all children are educated in an effort to obtain Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and in the student's Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) so that they are included with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.
  • IDEA is broken into several parts. 
    • The parts that school psychologists (and therefor most of my readers) are most concerned with are the regulations under Part C (for students in school) and Part B (for preschool-aged students). 
    • To see the US Department of Education's website devoted to these two sections, click here.
  • IDEA provides protections for confidentiality of student records. 
    • To read more about confidentiality with IDEA and FERPA (another education law), check out my free presentation on the topic.  The presentation is titled "Confidentiality Presentation".
  • IDEA outlines the requirements that must be included in a child's Individualized Education Plan.
  • IDEA is designed to help students advance academically and prepare students for life after graduation with independent living skills (when the IEP team feels these skills are appropriate).
  • IDEA also requires that parents are granted Procedural Safeguards (which are sometimes referred to as "Parental Rights").
    • These are physical documents that must be given to each parent of an exceptional child that outlines their rights as a parent of a student who receives special education or related service.

[Page last modified on 1/20/2016]