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California Technical Assistance and Training



Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended in 2004

Revised: November 2011

Revised by: Robert Morgan, Ed.D.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, or Public Law [P.L.] 108-446, was signed to law December 3, 2004, by President George W. Bush. This law extended the nation's premier special education law. In exchange for federal funding, IDEA requires states to provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The bill also includes children with disabilities in the education reform efforts of the No Child Left Behind Act. Five key changes to the law, as delineated by the House Education and Workforce Committee, strive to improve learning results for these students.

Background on Core Message Area:

A focus of past (1999 – 2013) federally funded State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG), awarded to the California Department of Education was to communicate common messages to the field about selected topics. These common, or core messages, articulate critical research findings and essential components of effective application. All core messages have been identified by experts in the field and have been approved by the California Department of Education, Special Education Division.

California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT), continues to utilize these core messages by supporting trainings and technical assistance, ( requests that reflect any or all of the Core Message Areas. After reading the Core Message Area topics on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), just select any of the Resources and Web site links listed after each topic to view the messages and supporting research.

  1. Making Special Education Stronger for Students and Parents
    • Improving Education Results for Children with Disabilities
      States must align their education accountability efforts for students with disabilities with that of other students.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Encouraging Innovative Approaches to Parental Involvement and Parental Choice
      This component in the new law provides parents with additional placement opportunities for their children.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Addressing the Needs of Homeschooled Children
      Provisions in the bill allow parents to refuse evaluation of and services for their children.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Ensuring Equitable Participation for Students in Private Schools
      This portion of the bill expands Child Find and consultation responsibilities for students with disabilities placed in private schools by their parents.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Improving Early Intervention Strategies
      A new emphasis is placed on helping students before they are identified as needing special education services.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Reducing Overidentification/Misidentification of Non-disabled Children, including Minority Youth
      IDEA, as amended in 2004, requires school districts to reduce the overidentification of minority youth in special education.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Strengthening Accountability Measures for States
      This provision complements accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind Act by extending them to students with disabilities.
      Resources and Web sites
  2. Ensuring School Safety and Reasonable Discipline Giving Teachers and Schools Greater Discretion to Exercise Reasonable Discipline and Ensure Safety for All Students
    This portion of the bill clarifies that, unless a disciplinary infraction is the result of a student's disability, the student must be disciplined in the same manner as any non-disabled student.
    Resources and Web sites
  3. Reducing Unnecessary Lawsuits and Litigation Restoring Trust and Reducing Litigation
    Resources and Web sites
  4. Supporting Teachers and Schools Reducing the Paperwork Burden on Teachers
    The bill streamlines and decreases paperwork associated with special education.
    Resources and Web sites
    • Supporting General Education and Special Education Teachers
      The new law emphasizes the need for professional development for all current and prospective teachers who will instruct students with disabilities.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Defining What It Means to be a "Highly Qualified" Special Education Teacher
      Expectations are delineated regarding the meaning of "highly qualified," especially as they relate to teachers who instruct students with disabilities.
      Resources and Web sites
  5. Reforming Special Education Funding and Building on Historic Funding Increases
    • Simplifying Special Education Finance and Building on Funding Increases. The new law simplifies federal financial support of special education and provides steps towards increasing promised levels of federal support.
      Resources and Web sites
    • Giving Local Communities More Control
      IDEA, as amended in 2004, offers additional support to local education agencies to implement special education provisions and provides yearly incremental increases towards reaching promised levels of federal support.
      Resources and Web sites

Reauthorization of the IDEA 2004
Resources and Web sites

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