This site is designed to help state leaders understand the issues surrounding special education, especially in light of the 2004 reauthorization of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, the landmark legislation first enacted in 1975, all students, including those with mental, physical and emotional disabilities, are entitled to a free and appropriate public education.
A number of questions have arisen regarding the implementation of IDEA, including:
This site contains statistics regarding special education services in the states; recent state legislation affecting state special education programs; information on teacher supply and training issues, finance, and successful student transition approaches; and research on methods of identifying, funding programs for and providing instruction to special-needs students. For information about assessment of special education students, check the Accomodations sub-issue page on the Assessment Issue Site.
- How can educators accurately identify and serve special-needs students, and avoid over- or misidentification of children with learning disabilities?
- A disproportionate number of children identified as special-needs are from minority groups. How can the issue of race-based misidentification be resolved?
- How much money should states and districts spend on special education programs, and at what cost to nondisabled students? And to what extent should special education funds come from the federal, state and local levels, respectively?
- How should special education children be included in statewide assessment and accountability programs?
- How should schools implement the IDEA mandate that special-needs children be included in regular classrooms to the fullest extent possible?
- How should children with disabilities be disciplined when they pose a threat to school staff and to other students?
- What can be done to ensure special-needs students make a successful transition from high school to postsecondary institutions or the workplace?
- How can adequate numbers of educators be recruited and trained to teach the growing special education student population?