Re-Examining Eligibility under IDEA.Report as inadecuate

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This background paper for a policy forum provides a framework for discussing the issue of determining eligibility for special education programs and services according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Included is a review of the role of assessment in special education, concerns about assessment practices, and constraints on change. Examples are provided of alternative approaches to improve the eligibility determination process, which have been implemented in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and American Samoa. It is suggested that existing special education requirements constrict movement toward using eligibility assessment results to measure a student's current status for important outcomes. It is claimed that there is little if any use of assessment data to plan or evaluate the intervention provided under special education. Although schools are required to review each child's individualized education program at least once a year, there is no requirement that assessments be used to track progress or measure outcomes. Many of the constraints to change involve legal and/or fiscal issues, including the link between categorical identification of a disability and due process and protection of individual rights. (SW)

Descriptors: Change Strategies, Compliance (Legal), Disabilities, Educational Legislation, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, Eligibility, Evaluation Methods, Federal Legislation, Resistance to Change, Special Education, Student Evaluation

National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Inc., 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 320, King Street Station 1, Alexandria, VA 22314 ($6.95).

Author: Ahearn, Eileen M.


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