What is special education?
Special education uses special instructional methods and, when needed, special services from a speech clinician, school social worker and other specialists to meet the individual needs of a child with a disability.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities. Schools must evaluate students suspected of having a disability.
IDEA has been amended several times since Congress first passed it in 1975 and covers children from infancy until they are 21 years of age, at no cost to the parents. The goals of IDEA 2004 are to:
- Ensure that all children with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like their peers.
- Ensure that schools provide special education services in the child’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
- Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected.
- Assist states in the implementation of a statewide, systems of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
- Ensure educators and parents have the necessary tools to improve educational results.
- Assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities.