Since the enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EHA), Public Law (P.L.) 94‑142 and its successor statute, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA,or Act), the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (Secretary) and her predecessor, the Commissioner of Education at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, have been required to transmit to Congress an annual report to inform Congress and the public of the progress being made in implementing the Act. The annual reports to Congress reflect a history of persistent commitment and effort to expand educational opportunities for children with disabilities.
The most recent reauthorization of IDEA (P.L. 108-446) occurred in December 2004, and Section 664(d) of IDEA continues to require the annual report to Congress. With the reauthorization of IDEA, the nation reaffirmed its commitment to improving the early intervention and educational results and functional outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youths with disabilities (collectively, this group may be referred to in this report as “children with disabilities”).
The 41st Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20191 describes our nation’s progress in:
- providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for children with disabilities under IDEA, Part B, and early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families under IDEA, Part C;
- ensuring that the rights of these children with disabilities and their parents are protected;
- assisting States and localities in providing IDEA services to all children with disabilities; and
- assessing the effectiveness of efforts to provide IDEA services to children with disabilities.
The report focuses on children with disabilities being served under IDEA, Part B and Part C, nationally and at the State level. Part B of IDEA provides funds to States to assist them in making FAPE available to eligible children ages 3 through 21 with disabilities who are in need of special education and related services, whereas Part C of IDEA provides funds to States to assist them in developing and implementing statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary interagency systems to make early intervention services available to all eligible children from birth through age 2 with disabilities and their families.2
Throughout this report, children with disabilities who receive services under IDEA, Part B, or under IDEA, Part C, are referred to as children served under IDEA, Part B; students served under IDEA, Part B; or infants and toddlers served under IDEA, Part C. “Special education services” is a term used throughout this report to represent services provided under IDEA, Part B. Similarly, “early intervention services” is a term used synonymously with services provided under IDEA, Part C.
This 41st Annual Report to Congress, 2019 follows the 40th Annual Report to Congress, 2018 in sequence and format, and it continues to focus on IDEA results and accountability. Similar to the 40th Annual Report to Congress, 2018, the 41st Annual Report to Congress, 2019 contains the following six major sections that address the annual report requirements contained in Section 664(d) of IDEA. The sections are
- a summary and analysis of IDEA Section 618 data at the national level;
- a summary and analysis of IDEA Section 618 data at the State level;3
- a summary and analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s) findings and determinations regarding the extent to which States are meeting the requirements of IDEA, Part B and Part C;
- a summary of special education research conducted under Part E of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002;
- a summary of national special education studies and evaluations conducted under Section 664(a) and (c) of IDEA; and
- a summary of the extent and progress of the assessment of national activities, which focus on determining the effectiveness of IDEA and improving its implementation.
The content of this report differs from that of the 40th Annual Report to Congress, 2018 in several ways. The most recent data presented in this report represent the following applicable reporting periods: fall 2017, school year 2016–17, or a 12-month reporting period during 2016–17. Where data are presented for a 10-year period, the oldest data are associated with fall 2008. Due to changes in the Children with Disabilities [IDEA] Early Childhood and Children with Disabilities [IDEA] School Age data collection file specifications, the data collection terms limited English proficient students and LEP students have been replaced with the term English learner(s), when referring to data collected in the 2017–18 school year. When referring to data collected prior to the 2017–18 school year, the terms limited English proficient students and LEP students are still used in this report. All three terms have the same underlying meaning and have been used for the same data collection purposes.
A summary of each of the six sections and three appendices that make up the 41st Annual Report to Congress, 2019 follows.
1 The year in the title reflects the U.S. Department of Education’s target year for submitting the report to Congress. The most current data in this report were collected from July 2016 through December 2017. These data have been available to the public prior to their presentation in this report. Subsequent references to this report and previously published annual reports will be abbreviated as the “XX Annual Report to Congress,” and will not include “on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”
2 A State may elect to make Part C services available to infants and toddlers with disabilities beyond age 3, consistent with IDEA Sections 632(5)(B) and 635(c) and 34 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) § 303.211. Data on these children are included in the annual reporting requirements for Part C under IDEA Sections 616, 618, and 642.
3 Section 618 data consist of:
- the number of infants and toddlers served under IDEA, Part C; the settings in which they receive program services; information on the transition at age 3 out of Part C; and dispute resolution information under IDEA Part C; and
- the number of children and students served under IDEA, Part B; the environments in which they receive education; their participation in and performance on State assessments; information on their exiting special education services; the personnel employed to provide educational services to them; disciplinary actions that affect them; and dispute resolution information under IDEA, Part B.