Wednesday, February 21, 2007

IDEIA 2004 Overview

IDEiA is the acronym for Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, which was signed into law on December 3, 2004 and went into effect July 1, 2005.
The federal regulations have not yet been finalized so we do not yet know exactly how they will be written. We do, however, know what the overall changes will be. I have listed out just four changes that I am interested in both as a special education professional and as a parent. These four areas are:

1. Goals and Objectives: No objectives are needed for students who will be alternately assessed. This means that IEPs of any student who will be taking the state and district wide assessments (even with accommodations) do not have to include objectives for each annual goal. Annual goals, however, must be aligned to the evaluation recommendations; they must also be measurable, and sufficient enough to show how the student will make progress.

2. Transition Services: Transition services are required to begin no later than age 16. There is no requirement that transition be addressed before age 16, this eliminates the previous requirement to address transition at age 14. This does not, however, let a district off the hook if the student should have (best practices) a transition IEP earlier. Transition IEPs must be written from a vocational evaluation as well as a general evaluation. They should always be developed with input from parents and students.

3. Highly Qualified Teacher: this has the potential to be a nightmare - especially for rural and remote districts where special education teachers play many roles. The new highly qualified requirement is quite simple in its complexity: all special education teachers need to be AS highly qualified as other teachers who are teaching core academic curriculum, there are of course a few caveats. There is a lot of discussion going around the impact this will have on schools particularly secondary schools where the special education teacher may be teaching in 3 or more core curriculum areas. It is my opinion that this requirement will force schools to look at the structure of their secondary special education programs.

4. LD Qualification: school psychologists should be very aware of this. When the proposed federal regulations came out in June 2005, there were many pages justifying the elimination of the "potentially harmful" discrepancy model. One of the items in this justification is that smaller and remote schools can save money by not requiring school psychologists at the level they need them now. Now is the time for school psychologist to become highly qualified in several areas: administering and interpreting tests that give teachers information about what to teach and how; curriculum and instructional strategies that are considered scientifically based, team facilitators, trained and able to train others in curriculum based assessment - data collection and how to interpret data they collect on a regular basis.

As I stated before, these are just four areas of change and we don't have the final federal regulations or individual state regulations which will come out several months after release of the federal regulations.

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