Here Come More Rules
Against the backdrop of all these new realities, administrators are anxiously awaiting the final regulations of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act, commonly referred to as IDEA 2004, which was signed into law on December 3, 2004. No timetable is set for when the final regulations will be completed, but many hope it will be this year.
Among the changes in the works: Students with disabilities will have more accountability under the law, as more of them are required to participate in standardized testing. Accommodations need to be in line with general education standards and should be spelled out in the student’s IEP, which will no longer require a three-year reevaluation if both school and parents agree. Schools will also be given more flexibility with their discipline policies for special education students.
One of the big changes is the way in which learning disabilities will be assessed. IQ tests will no longer be required to show the discrepancy between achievement and potential. “It’s going to take more of the objective criteria out of LD and move it to the subjective,” says George Giuliani, executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and a special education professor at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. “That is a great concern. It can be based more on a gut feeling, and you don’t have to have the numbers.”
The new IDEA 2004 funding system provides a path for the federal government to pay 40 percent of the extra cost of educating students with disabilities by 2010. Recent budget proposals recommend IDEA funding at 17 percent—a decrease from what was proposed in 2005.