ERIC Identifier: ED433668
Publication Date: 1999-06-00
Author: Knoblauch, Bernadette - McLane, Kathleen
ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education Reston VA.
An Overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Amendments of 1997 (P.L. 105-17): Update 1999. ERIC Digest E576.
On June 4, 1997, President William J. Clinton signed the bill reauthorizing
and amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The bill
became Public Law 105-17, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Amendments of 1997. The law is frequently referred to as IDEA '97.
IDEA is organized in four parts: Part A, General Provisions; Part B,
Assistance for the Education of All Children with Disabilities (school
age/preschool programs); Part C, Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities; and
Part D, National Activities to Improve the Education of Children with
Disabilities (support programs). P.L. 105-17 retains the major provisions of
earlier federal laws in this area, including the assurance of having a free
appropriate public education (FAPE) available to all children with disabilities,
in the least restrictive environment (LRE), and the guarantee of due-process
procedures and procedural safeguards. It also includes modifications to the law.
Some of the changes that affect special education practice nationwide include:
* Participation of students with disabilities in state and district-wide
assessment (testing) programs, with appropriate accommodations where necessary.
The law also includes the development of guidelines, as appropriate, for
participation of children with disabilities in alternate assessments, for those
children who cannot participate in regular assessments with accommodations and
* Development and review of the individualized education program (IEP),
including increased emphasis on participation of children and youth with
disabilities in the general curriculum and the involvement of regular education
teachers in developing, reviewing and revising the IEP.
* Enhanced parent participation in eligibility and placement decisions.
* Streamlined student evaluation and re-evaluation requirements.
* Beginning at age 14, and updated annually, a statement of the transition
service needs of the student that focuses on the student's courses of study.
*The availability of mediation as a means of more easily resolving
parent-school differences. At a minimum, mediation must be available whenever a
due-process hearing is requested.
* Disciplinary procedures for students with disabilities, including placement
of certain students with disabilities in appropriate interim alternative
educational settings for up to 45 days.
* Allowing children ages 3-9 to be identified as developmentally delayed,
with the upper age limit at the discretion of the state and the local
educational agency. Previously, the developmental delay category was restricted
to ages 3-5.
Following are some of the highlights of the new law:
OUTCOMES AND STANDARDS
IDEA '97 requires states to:
* Include students with disabilities in state and district-wide testing
programs, with appropriate accommodations when necessary.
* Establish performance goals and indicators for students with disabilities.
EVALUATIONS AND CURRICULUM
In the area of evaluations and
IEPs, IDEA '97:
* Requires a statement of any type of individual accommodation or
modification that is needed for the student to be able to participate in state-
or district-wide assessments of student achievement.
* Requires states to ensure that students with disabilities have access to
the general curriculum. If a student will not be participating with nondisabled
children in the regular classroom and extracurricular and other non-academic
activities, an explanation in the student's IEP is required.
* Requires at least one regular education teacher of the child to be a member
of the IEP team if the student is participating or might be participating in the
regular education environment.
* Expressly requires that the IEP address positive behavioral intervention
strategies, if appropriate, in the case of a student whose behavior impedes his
or her progress.
* Requires state and local educational agencies to ensure that parents are
members of any group that makes placement decisions or any other decisions
regarding the child.
* Streamlines the reevaluation process, allowing parents and school districts
to identify what additional reevaluation data, if any, are needed.
* Requires informed parental consent for all evaluations. In the case of
reevaluations, consent is required unless the school district can demonstrate
that it has taken reasonable measures to obtain consent and the parent has
failed to respond.
* Requires that parents be informed about the educational progress of their
child, by means such as periodic report cards, at least as often as parents of
* Specifies that a statement of transition services needs relating to the
student's course of study be included in the student's IEP, beginning at age 14
and to be updated annually.
* In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provides for
instruction in Braille or the use of Braille, unless the IEP team determines,
after an evaluation of the child's current and future needs, that Braille
instruction or use is not needed.
* Adds "orientation and mobility services" to the definition of related
* Requires that the language used in delivering information to parents about
their child's rights be as easily understood as possible.
* Requires that parents be given access to all records relating to their
child, not just those "relevant" records on the identification, evaluation, and
educational placement of their child.
* Preserves existing procedural safeguards, such as due process and the right
of parents to recover reasonable attorneys' fees and costs if they prevail in
administrative or judicial proceedings under IDEA. (But, in most cases,
attorneys' fees cannot be reimbursed for IEP meetings.)
* Requires each state to establish a voluntary mediation process, with
qualified, impartial mediators who are knowledgeable about mediation techniques
as well as special education laws and regulations.
* Ensures that no student with a disability is denied continuing educational
services due to behavior. Schools must continue to provide educational services
for students with disabilities whose suspension or expulsion constitutes a
change in placement (usually more than 10 days in a school year).
* Gives schools the authority to remove students with disabilities to
appropriate interim alternative educational settings (IAES) for behavior related
to drugs, guns, and other dangerous weapons for up to 45 days.
* Allows schools to suspend students with disabilities for up to 10 school
days to the extent that such alternatives are used for children without
* Requires the IEP team to conduct a "manifestation determination" once a
disciplinary action for a student with a disability is contemplated. The IEP
team must determine--within 10 calendar days after the school decides to
discipline a student--whether the student's behavior is related to the
disability. If the behavior is not related to the disability, the student may be
disciplined in the same way as a student without a disability, but the
appropriate educational services must continue.
* Permits school personnel to report crimes allegedly committed by students
with disabilities to law enforcement authorities.
EARLY INTERVENTION AND PRESCHOOL SERVICES
In the area of
early intervention, which is now Part C, IDEA '97:
* Requires that local school districts participate in a transition planning
conference for parents of toddlers with disabilities who are about to enter
* Explicitly calls for delivery of early intervention services in natural
* Clarifies that Part C funds for early intervention services are the payor
of last resort.
TEACHER TRAINING AND PREPARATION
* Creates a new system of grants to improve results for students with
disabilities through system reform, emphasizing personnel training and training
for regular education teachers of early grades.
Bazelon Center for Mental Health. (1998). A New
IDEA: A Parent's Guide to the Changes in Special Education Law for Children with
Disabilities. Washington, DC.
The Council for Exceptional Children. 1998. IDEA 97: Let's Make It Work,
New Jersey Developmental Disabilities Council. Fall 1997. Common Ground.
Illinois Assistive Technology Project. 1997. TechTalk. Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997. (P. L. 105-17). 1997. 20 U.S.C.
Kupper, L. (Editor). 1998. "The IDEA Amendments of 1997." NICHCY News Digest
26 (Revised edition).