Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

IDEA '97 Final Regulations Released

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

IDEA '97 Final Regulations Released

Article excerpt

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA '97) seeks to improve the educational results for children with disabilities. It goes beyond simply assuring access--it also focuses on high expectations for children with disabilities.

The Department of Education published its final regulations for IDEA '97 on March 12, 1999. The final regulations were published later than originally expected as Department staff worked to address nearly 6,000 comments received on the proposed regulations, which were issued in October 1997. People interested in obtaining a copy of the final regulations can visit the Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE) Web site at

Parents of children with disabilities are finding that it is important to learn of changes in the law and regulations and to understand how they will affect their children. The IEP requirements in IDEA '97 are in effect for all Individualized Education Programs reviewed, revised, or developed after July 1, 1998.

While it is difficult to summarize all of the changes in IDEA '97 and the final regulations, a sampling of issues are included in this article that may be of particular interest to parents.

Eligibility criteria:

* Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (ADD) have been added to the list of conditions that could make a child eligible under the "other health impairment" category of disability.

* States are allowed to define "developmental delay" for children ages 3 through 9, and if local educational agencies choose to use this category, they must use the definition and age range defined by the state.

* Children may be eligible for special education even if progressing from grade to grade.

* Children cannot be determined eligible for services solely based on limited English proficiency or lack of instruction in reading or math.

* Evaluations must identify all of the child's needs for special education and related placement services, even if those needs are not commonly linked to the disability under which a child has been found eligible for services (services must be based on need, not disability category).

* Parent input is a source of information to use in determining a child's eligibility.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs):

* IEPs must include how a child will be involved in the general curriculum, including goals related to meeting the child's needs so that the child can progress in the general curriculum.

* IEPs must be accessible to each teacher and service provider who is responsible for its implementation, all of whom must be informed of their responsibilities for implementing parts of the IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that are listed in the IEP.

* At least one of the child's regular-education teachers must be on the IEP team if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment (e.g. classroom). Parents and the school can invite others of their choosing who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child.

* The IEP team must consider a number of "special factors" when developing a child's IEP: strategies including positive interventions for behavior that interferes with learning; limited English proficiency as language needs relate to the IEP; assistive technology needs; and communication in their language and communication mode for children who are deaf or hearing impaired. For children who are blind or visually impaired, the IEP team must provide for instruction in Braille and use of Braille unless, after an appropriate evaluation, the IEP team determines that instruction in Braille or use of Braille is not appropriate for the child. …

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