Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Disability Services in Postsecondary Education: Impact of IDEA 2004

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Disability Services in Postsecondary Education: Impact of IDEA 2004

Article excerpt

In November of 2004, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). The reauthorized law promises many significant changes to the delivery of special education services in the K-12 educational system throughout the United States. Although postsecondary institutions are not subject to the regulations of the IDEA 2004, some of the changes will begin to impact the type of information being presented by students to access postsecondary services. The areas of the IDEA 2004 with the potential for the most impact on present practice at the postsecondary level will be in the areas of reevaluation of disabilities, the summary of performance requirement, transition planning, and criteria for the diagnosis of a learning disability (LD). Some of the differences will be apparent as soon as the 2006-2007 academic year; others will not be evident until younger students work their way through secondary schools.

As previously noted, colleges and universities are not subject to the mandates of the IDEA 2004, and, as such, it might be easy to dismiss the impact of this law on the higher education community. However, strategic issues may begin in the K-12 arena and evolve into higher education (Janosik, 2005) that may be more prevalent in developmental settings.

Too often, busy administrators are content to know only those issues that directly affect their administrative function or their segment of the education enterprise. Administrators would be well advised to pay close attention to strategic developments in other segments of the education continuum. (Janosik, p. 405)

In order to help postsecondary disability service providers to plan now for the corning impact of the revised IDEA, this article will provide information about key modifications to the law that relate to postsecondary disability services. First, a brief overview of the IDEA will be provided. second, an overview of key changes to the IDEA in relation to reevaluation, summary of performance, transition planning, and diagnosis of learning disabilities will be presented. The potential impact of the revised legislation on postsecondary education will be discussed. Professionals working with at-risk college students should avail themselves of potential post-secondary implications of recent legislation.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was the first national special education law applying to all public schools in the United States. Originally passed in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the legislation has been reauthorized multiple times, and, in 1990, the title of the law was changed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. The 1997 reauthorization (IDEA 1997) is the version of the law under which the majority of currently enrolled postsecondary students with disabilities received services in the public schools. The most recent reauthorization, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, was signed into law by President Bush on December 3, 2004 with the regulations taking effect on July 1, 2005 (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). This reauthorization also brought IDEA into Une with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001), which is intended to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students, including those with disabilities (Hallahan & Kaufmann, 2006).

The IDEA is built upon the key philosophy that any student with a disability between the ages of 3 and 21 (or prior to high school graduation) must be provided with a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE), regardless of the nature and severity of the disability (Hallahan & Kaufmann, 2006). Local districts are responsible for identifying and assessing students with potential disabilities through a comprehensive and nondiscriminatory evaluation process and for designing and implementing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student with a disability (Hallahan & Kaufmann). …

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