Topic Areas

The topic areas page includes information and resources related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from the U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and other Federal agencies.

This page also includes resources developed by technical assistance centers funded by the Department and other Federal agencies.

Please note that the resources included on this site do not represent an exhaustive list of resources. Additional resources may be available from organizations unaffiliated with the Department.

Creating accessible websites, documents and digital content removes certain barriers individuals with disabilities might face when using and accessing technology.

Why is it important to make documents accessible? This video from the National Clearninghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials, an OSERS Rehabilitation Services Administration grant recipient, demonstrates the difficulties users with screen readers have when reading inaccessible documents.

The Office of Civil Rights handles accessibility issues related to education; however, the following resources provide information about creating accessible websites and digital documents.

Section 508 refers to the section of the Rehabilitation Act that details requirements to ensure people with disabilities can access federal government-developed electronic and information technology.

U.S. Department of Education

Other U.S. Federal Partner Resources

OSERS-Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

OSEP supports a number of educational media and educational materials projects designed to provide timely access for children with disabilities to the same educational media and materials used by all children.

The IDEA supports activities that use current and emerging technologies to improve access to the content of educational media and materials, including textbooks, for children with disabilities.

These activities are designed to:

  1. provide access to television programming, videos, CDs, DVDs, video streamed materials and other multimedia materials for children with disabilities by adding video description or captioning
  2. provide free educational materials, including textbooks, in accessible formats such as braille, large print, audio, digital text, and text with audio, that make it possible for children with disabilities to access and use educational materials and textbooks across learning environments.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Dear Colleague Letter on Braille (June 19, 2013) MS Word | PDF

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

Under the IDEA, each State must ensure all children with disabilities are included in all general State and district-wide assessment programs, including assessments described under section 1111 of the ESEA, 20 U.S.C. 6311, with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments, if necessary, as indicated in their respective individualized education programs (IEPs).

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

Under the IDEA, States are required to submit outcome data to the Department annually on young children receiving services under IDEA Part C and Part B Preschool in order to access the impact of those programs.

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

Bullying of any student by another student, for any reason, cannot be tolerated in our schools.

Children with disabilities are disproportionately affected by bullying. For example, children with learning disabilities, attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, and autism are more likely to be bullied than their peers.

Due to the characteristics of their disabilities, children with intellectual, communication, processing, or emotional disabilities may not understand the extent to which bullying behaviors are harmful, or may be unable to make the situation known to an adult who can help.

Whether or not the bullying is related to the student’s disability, any bullying of a student with a disability that results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit constitutes a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA that must be remedied.

The Department has issued guidance including practices for use as part of any bullying prevention and intervention program to help ensure that school and classroom settings are positive, safe, and nurturing environments for all children and adults.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

Charter schools are established according to individual State charter school laws.

The term “charter school,” as used in the current IDEA Part B regulations, has the meaning of “charter school” in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Children with disabilities who attend public charter schools and their parents retain all rights and protections under Part B of IDEA just as they would if the children were enrolled in other public schools.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Dear Colleague Letter with the Office for Civil Rights on Charter Schools (Dec. 28, 2016)
  • Frequently Asked Questions about the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools under IDEA (Dec. 27, 2016)
  • Fact Sheet on Know Your Rights: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools (Aug. 1, 2016)

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

The provisions related to child find in the IDEA require that States and local educational agencies (LEAs) have in effect policies and procedures to ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the State who need special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated, regardless of the severity of the disability.

This requirement, known as Child Find, includes activities to determine whether a child is a child suspected of having a disability who should be referred for evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services under Part B.

This responsibility includes children who are homeless or wards of the state and highly mobile and migrant children with disabilities, as well as those suspected of having developmental delays.

It also includes children who have complex medical needs and who reside in nursing homes because of serious health problems and those that are in correctional facilities.

Under Part C of the IDEA, each state must have a comprehensive child find system that ensures all infants and toddlers with disabilities in the state who are eligible for early intervention services are identified, located, and evaluated.

To fully comply with this requirement, Part C must ensure the child find system is coordinated with all other major efforts to locate and identify children by other state agencies responsible for administering education, health, and social service programs including:

  • the state IDEA Part B program
  • the state Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) system
  • the Home Visiting program under Maternal and Child Health (MCH-Title V)
  • child care programs
  • the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

The IDEA allows, and sometimes requires, local educational agencies (LEAs) to use funds provided under Part B of the IDEA for coordinated early intervening services (CEIS).

This provision permits LEAs to use no more than 15 percent of Part B funds to develop and provide CEIS for students who are currently not identified as needing special education.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • The IDEA’s regulations, pertaining to Significant Disproportionality and CEIS were revised in December 2016. The Department is currently working to update guidance in this area.

Students with disabilities represent a large portion of students in correctional facilities, and it appears that not all students with disabilities are receiving the special education and related services to which they are entitled.

Absent a specific exception, all IDEA protections apply to students with disabilities in correctional facilities and their parents.

The fact that a student has been charged with or convicted of a crime does not diminish his or her substantive rights or the procedural safeguards and remedies provided under the IDEA to students with disabilities and their parents.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

Under the IDEA, the primary vehicle for providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is through an appropriately developed individualized education program (IEP) that is based on the individual needs of the child.

In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP Team must consider – and, when necessary to provide FAPE, include in the IEP – the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior.

School personnel may remove a child with a disability who violates a code of student conduct from his or her current placement to an appropriate interim alternative educational setting, another setting, or suspension for up to 10 consecutive school days in a school year (to the extent those alternatives are applied to children without disabilities), and for additional removals of not more than 10 consecutive school days in that same school year for separate incidents of misconduct, so long as those removals do not constitute a change of placement.

A disciplinary change of placement is a disciplinary removal of more than 10 consecutive school days or a series of removals that total more than 10 school days in a school year that constitute a pattern of removals because of factors such as the length of each removal, the total amount of time that a child has been removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another.

Within 10 days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the responsible local educational agency (LEA), the parent, and relevant members of the child’s IEP Team must first conduct a manifestation determination. This occurs through a review of all relevant information in the student’s file, including the IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents.

The group must determine if the child’s behavior was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child’s disability, or if the behavior was the direct result of the LEA’s failure to implement the IEP.

If the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability, the IEP Team either must conduct a functional behavioral assessment unless one had already been conducted prior to the behavior that resulted in a change in placement, and implement a behavioral intervention plan for the child or review an existing behavioral intervention plan and modify it, if necessary, to address the behavior.

Also, unless the parent and the LEA agree to a change in placement, the child must be returned to the placement from which he or she was removed.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

  • U.S. Department of Education/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Statement on Suspension and Expulsion in Early Learning programs
  • U.S. Department of Education funded Pyramid Equity Project
    • Fact Sheet on implementing the Pyramid Model to address inequities in early childhood discipline
  • U.S. Department of Education

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

OSEP encourages parents and local educational agencies (LEAs) to work collaboratively, in the best interests of children, to resolve the disagreements that may occur when working to provide a positive educational experience for all children, including children with disabilities.

To this end, the IDEA and its implementing regulations provide specific options for resolving disputes between parents and public agencies, which can be used in a manner consistent with our shared goals of improving results and achieving better outcomes for children with disabilities.

Part B of the IDEA provides parents with the following options for resolving disagreements about their child’s education program: State complaints, mediation, and due process complaints.

Any individual or organization, including one from another State, may file a State complaint to resolve allegations that a public agency has violated a requirement of Part B of the IDEA.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Question and Answers about Dispute Resolution Procedures under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part B) (July 23, 2013)
  • Dear Colleague Letter on Use of Due Process Procedures After a Parent has Filed a State Complaint (April 15, 2015)

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

The early childhood programs under IDEA (Part C Early Intervention and Part B Preschool Special Education) are part of a broader set of early learning programs and services.

Young children with disabilities participate in various programs and services so it is critical that IDEA early childhood professionals are aware of and collaborate with the broader early learning community.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Frequently Asked Questions on Understanding the Confidentiality Requirements Applicable to IDEA Early Childhood Programs (October 2016)
  • OSEP Memo on Response to Intervention (RTI) and preschool children (April 29, 2016)

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

All young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.

Children with disabilities and their families continue to face significant barriers to accessing inclusive high-quality early childhood programs despite the legal foundation and research base supporting inclusion.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Education/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Statement on Early-Childhood Inclusion (Sept. 14, 2015)

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

  • Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center

English learners (ELs) are among the fastest-growing populations of students in our nation’s public schools.

This diverse subgroup of approximately 4.5 million students brings important cultural and linguistic assets to the public education system, but also faces a greater likelihood of lower graduation rates, academic achievement, and college enrollment than their non-EL peers.

The IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) address the rights of students with disabilities in school and other educational settings.

If an EL is suspected of having one or more disabilities, the local education agency (LEA) must evaluate the EL promptly to determine if the EL has a disability or disabilities and whether the EL needs disability-related services, which are special education and related services under IDEA or regular or special education and related aids and services under Section 504.

Disability evaluations may not be delayed because of a student’s limited English language proficiency (ELP) or the student’s participation in a language instruction educational program (LIEP). Also, a student’s ELP cannot be the basis for determining that a student has a disability.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

  • U.S. Department of Education
    • Statement on Supporting Young Dual Language Learners
  • U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Acquisition

In determining whether a child has a disability under the IDEA, and is eligible to receive special education and related services because of that disability, the local education agency (LEA) must conduct a comprehensive evaluation, which requires the use of a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child.

This information, which includes information provided by the parent, may assist in determining:

  1. whether the child is a child with a disability
  2. the content of the child’s IEP to enable the child to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum

A reevaluation must occur at least once every three years, unless the parent and the public agency agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Question-and-Answer Documents
    • Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s), Evaluations and Reevaluations: MS Word | PDF

The cornerstone of the IDEA is the entitlement of each eligible child with a disability to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the child’s unique needs and that prepare the child for further education, employment, and independent living.

Under the IDEA, the primary vehicle for providing FAPE is through an appropriately developed individualized education program (IEP) that is based on the individual needs of the child.

An IEP must take into account a child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, and the impact of that child’s disability on his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Q&A on Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Case (Dec. 7, 2017)
  • Dear Colleague Letter on Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) (Nov. 16, 2015)
  • OSEP Memo on Educational Expenses for Children in Private Residential Facilities (March 17, 2005) MS Word | PDF

Highly mobile children include children experiencing frequent family moves into new school districts, such as military-connected children, migrant children, children in the foster care system, and children who are homeless.

While these children often possess remarkable resilience, they also experience formidable challenges as they cope with frequent educational transitions.

It is important for school administrators and teachers, including special education administrators and special education teachers, to have accurate and timely information to meet their responsibilities to make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) available to highly mobile children with disabilities under IDEA, including affording all of IDEA’s rights and protections to eligible children and their parents when the children change school districts.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Question and Answers on High Quality Education for Highly Mobile Children (July 19, 2013)
  • Policy Letter on Guidance on Homeless Children with Disabilities (March 2011): MS Word | PDF
    • This Q&A document provides state and local educational officials, early intervention services providers and homeless assistance coordinators with information to assist with implementation of the requirements of the IDEA and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

The cornerstone of the IDEA is the entitlement of each eligible child with a disability to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the child’s unique needs and that prepare the child for further education, employment, and independent living. 20 U.S.C. §1400(d)(1)(A).

Under the IDEA, the primary vehicle for providing FAPE is through an appropriately developed IEP that is based on the individual needs of the child.

An IEP must take into account a child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, and the impact of that child’s disability on his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.

IEP goals must be aligned with grade-level content standards for all children with disabilities.

The child’s IEP must be developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the requirements outlined in the IDEA in 34 CFR 300.320 through §300.324.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

OSEP and OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers’ Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Question-and-Answer Documents
    • Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Evaluations and Reevaluations: Word | PDF
  • Model Forms
    • Individualized Education Program: Word | PDF
    • Prior Written Notice: Word | PDF
    • Procedural Safeguards Notice:  Word | PDF

The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is the written plan for providing early intervention services to an infant or toddler with a disability and infant’s or toddler’s family.

The IFSP must be developed in accordance with the procedures outlined in 34 CFR §§303.342, 303.343, and 303.345 and includes the content required in 34 CFR §303.344.

OSEP and OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers’ Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

The least restrictive environment requirements have existed since passage of the Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EHA) in 1975 and are a fundamental element of our nation’s policy for educating students with disabilities. EHA was renamed the IDEA in 1990.

These requirements reflect the IDEA’s strong preference for educating students with disabilities in regular classes with appropriate aids and supports.

Under section 612(a)(5) of the IDEA, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, must be educated with children who are not disabled.

Further, special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

The IDEA requires states monitor the implementation of IDEA Part B requirements and to make determinations annually about the performance of each local educational agency using the categories:

  • meets requirements and purposes of Part B
  • needs assistance in meeting the requirements of Part B
  • needs intervention in meeting the requirements of Part B
  • needs substantial intervention in meeting the requirements of Part B

For Part C, the state must monitor implementation of the IDEA Part C requirements and make determinations annually about the performance of each early intervention service program using the following categories:

  • meets requirements and purposes of Part C
  • needs assistance in meeting the requirements of Part C
  • needs intervention in meeting the requirements of Part C
  • needs substantial intervention in meeting the requirements of Part C

States must use appropriate enforcement mechanisms, if applicable, which must include actions such as:

  • providing technical assistance
  • imposing conditions on funding of an LEA (Part B) or early intervention service provider’s program (Part C)
  • requiring corrective action or improvement plans when necessary of an LEA (Part B) or early intervention service provider’s program (Part C)

The primary focus of the state’s monitoring activities must be on improving educational results and functional outcomes for all children with disabilities and ensuring that:

  • public agencies meet Part B requirements, with a particular emphasis on the requirements most closely related to improving educational results for children with disabilities.
  • early intervention services programs meet the program requirements under Part C, with a particular emphasis on those requirements that are most closely related to improving early intervention results for infants and toddlers with disabilities.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • OSEP Memo 09-02 on Reporting on the Correction of Noncompliance (Oct. 17, 2008) MS Word | PDF

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Monitoring, Technical Assistance, and Enforcement (2009): MS Word | PDF

The IDEA provides certain protections to parents of children with disabilities.

A copy of the procedural safeguards available to parents must be provided to the parents one time per school year, except that a copy also must be given to parents (1) upon initial referral or parent request for evaluation; (2) upon receipt of the first State complaint under 34 300.151-300.153 and upon receipt of the first due process complaint under 300.507 in a school year; (3) in accordance with the IDEA’s discipline procedures in 300.530(h); and (4) upon request by a parent.

There are several procedural safeguards available to parents under Part B, including:

  • independent educational evaluations
  • prior written notice
  • parental consent
  • access to education records
  • the opportunity to present and resolve complaints through the due process complaint and State complaint procedures
  • the availability of mediation

The requirement to provide a copy of the procedural safeguards available to parents as well as the full list of the procedural safeguards is described in 34 CFR 300.504.

Under IDEA Part C, the procedural safeguards are designed to protect the rights of parents and their infant or toddler with a disability, as well as give families and early intervention lead agencies a mechanism for resolving disputes.

Each lead agency is responsible for establishing procedural safeguards that meet the requirements of 34 CFR 303.400.

The procedural safeguards include provisions related to:

  • confidentiality of the child and family’s early intervention records
  • the right of parents to review such records
  • data collection and consent related to the disclosure of personally identifiable information
  • prior written notice, which ensures that parents receive important information about the lead agency or EIS provider’s proposed actions or refusals
  • parental consent for actions affecting infants and toddlers and their families.

The procedural safeguards also:

  • ensure that the child’s rights are protected if a surrogate parent must be assigned
  • establish dispute resolution procedures to ensure speedy resolution of any disputes that arise under Part C of the IDEA
  • contain requirements regarding the State’s system of payments.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

Physical education services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every child with a disability receiving a free appropriate public education, unless the public agency enrolls children without disabilities and does not provide physical education to children without disabilities in the same grades.

Each child with a disability must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the regular physical education program available to nondisabled children unless the child is enrolled full-time in a separate facility or the child needs specially designed physical education as prescribed in the child’s individualized education program (IEP).

If specially designed physical education is prescribed in a child’s IEP, the public agency responsible for the education of the child must provide the services directly or make arrangements for those services to be provided through other public or private programs. For a child with a disability who is enrolled in a separate facility, the public agency responsible for the child’s education must ensure she or he receives appropriate physical education services in accordance with the requirements in 34 CFR 300.108.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

The IDEA is designed to improve educational results for all children with disabilities.

Therefore, it provides benefits and services to children with disabilities in public schools and requires school districts to make services and benefits available to children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in nonpublic (private) schools.

The law includes language requiring state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) to ensure the equitable participation of parentally placed children with disabilities in programs assisted by or carried out under the equitable participation requirements that apply to them.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Question-and-Answer Documents
    • Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents in Private Schools: MS Word | PDF

For those students who may need additional academic and behavioral supports to succeed in a general education environment, schools may choose to implement a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), such as response to intervention (RTI) or positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS).

MTSS is a school-wide approach that addresses the needs of all students, including struggling learners and students with disabilities, and integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-level instructional and behavioral system to maximize student achievement and reduce problem behaviors.

MTSS, which includes scientific, research-based interventions, also may be used to identify children suspected of having a specific learning disability.

With a multi-tiered instructional framework, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes; monitor their progress; provide evidence-based interventions; and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness.

Children who do not, or minimally, respond to interventions must be referred for an evaluation to determine if they are eligible for special education and related services; and those children who simply need intense short-term interventions may continue to receive those interventions.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • OSEP Memo 11-07 on Response to Intervention (Jan. 21, 2011) MS Word | PDF
  • OSEP Memo 16-07 on Response to Intervention (RTI) and Preschool Services (April 29, 2016)
  • Dear Colleague Letter on Dyslexia (Oct. 23, 2015)

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Question-and-Answer Documents
    • Response to Intervention (RTI) and Early Intervening Services (EIS): MS Word | PDF

The IDEA and its implementing regulations addresses transition services for children with disabilities.

The term “transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:

  • is designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, and community participation
  • is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests
  • includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation

Transition services may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or a related service, if required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities (January 2017)

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Question-and-Answer Documents

IDEA requires states to collect and examine data to determine if significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the state and the local educational agencies (LEAs) of the state with respect to:

  1. the identification of children as children with disabilities, including the identification of children as children with disabilities in accordance with a particular impairment;
  2. the placement in particular educational settings of such children; and
  3. the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions.

The IDEA does not, however, define “significant disproportionality.”

The regulations do not explicitly define the term either. Instead, regulations require states to use a standard methodology for analysis of disproportionality, which includes states setting a threshold above which disproportionality in the identification, placement, or discipline of children with disabilities within an LEA is significant.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

  • Question and Answers and Model State Timeline on Significant Disproportionality (Equity in IDEA) (March 31, 2017)
    • These resources are a follow-up to the Equity in IDEA final regulation, which was published in the Federal Register Dec. 19, 2016 and became effective on Jan. 18, 2017.
      • NOTE: The department postponed the compliance date of this regulation from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2020 through 83 FR 31306 published July 3, 2018. The regulation also postpones the compliance date for including children ages three through five in significant disproportionality analysis from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022.
    • The Q&A guidance document includes questions and answers on the rule, including the standard methodology; remedies; effective and compliance dates; and a glossary of terms. It is intended to be used as a resource for states as they begin engaging with stakeholders around the implementation of the final rule.
    • The Model State Timeline outlines the different streams of work and the timelines that states should consider as they implement the new rule.
  • Webinar on Equity in IDEA 101: Contents of the Final Rule (Feb. 7, 2017)
  • Webinar on Equity in IDEA 201: Implementing the Final Rule (March 30, 2017)

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

Teaching is one of the most important and challenging careers, and of all the school-related factors that impact student academic performance, great teachers matter most and that is especially true for children with disabilities.

Great teachers, related services providers and principals matter enormously to the learning and the lives of all children, especially children with disabilities.

States must establish and maintain qualifications to ensure the personnel necessary to implement the IDEA Part B requirements are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained. This includes making sure those personnel have the content knowledge and skills to serve children with disabilities.

IDEA authorizes and OSEP invests in personnel development for those who serve and support children with disabilities (birth through 21) and their families.

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources

The IDEA and its implementing regulations address the transportation needs of children with disabilities.

Transportation is a related service as defined by 34 CFR §300.34(c)(16) of the IDEA regulations and can include travel to and from school and between schools; travel in and around school buildings; and specialized equipment such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps.

A child’s individualized education program (IEP) Team is responsible for determining both if transportation is required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education and related services and how the transportation services should be implemented.

The IDEA and the implementing regulations also include travel training in the definition of special education. Travel training is instruction that enables children with disabilities to develop an awareness of the environment in which they live, and to learn the skills necessary to move effectively and safely from place to place within that environment.

Both transportation and travel training are important services IEP Teams should continue to consider when they plan for a child’s postsecondary transition needs.

IDEA 2004 Reauthorization Resources

  • Question-and-Answer Documents
    • Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation: MS Word | PDF

During the last decade, there has been a proliferation of educational models involving varying degrees of in-person and online instruction and practice.

Many state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that operate as LEAs, provide a variety of Internet-based or online instruction to children, including children with disabilities under the IDEA.

In addition, some LEAs have begun, or are considering, offering children the opportunity to attend virtual schools.

The educational rights and protections afforded to children with disabilities and their parents under IDEA must not be diminished or compromised when children with disabilities attend virtual schools that are constituted as LEAs or are public schools of an LEA.

OSEP Guidance and Resources

Other U.S. Department of Education/Federal Partner Resources

OSEP Funded Technical Assistance Centers and Resources