IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years.
The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004, with final regulations published in August 2006 (Part B for school-aged children) and in September 2011 (Part C, for babies and toddlers). So, in one sense, the law is very new, even as it has a long, detailed, and powerful history.
Use the links below to find the type of information you’re looking for on IDEA:
Summaries of IDEA’s requirements, which shape what school systems do
IDEA itself- to read IDEA’s exact words, you can either download a copy of the law and its regulations, or read them here online
Guidance on IDEA from the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education
Part B State Performance Plans (SPP) Letters and Annual Performance Report (APR) Letters from the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education
If you’re looking for summaries of what the law requires (rather than its word-for-word statute or regulations), try the Center for Parent Information and Resources' website:
Services for babies and toddlers to the third birthday (Part C of IDEA):
Services for school-aged children, including preschoolers (Part B of IDEA):
Exact Words of IDEA Itself
To read IDEA’s verbatim language can be a big help in understanding why local practices in schools and early childhood settings are as they are. Here is the place to connect with that language. Use the links below to explore the actual words of our nation’s special education law.
Access the entire IDEA law at:
- PDF | http://www.parentcenterhub.org/wp-content/uploads/repo_items/PL108-446.pdf
- HTML | http://idea.ed.gov/
Part B Regulations: Services for School-Aged Children
Part C Regulations: Early Childhood Intervention for Babies and Toddlers
Guidance on IDEA from the U.S. Department of Education
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education regularly provides guidance to the field on IDEA. All are intended to clarify elements of the law and its regulations, and are an important part of understanding IDEA and how to implement it. To connect with this federal guidance, visit:
Part B State Performance Plans (SPP) Letters and Annual Performance Report (APR) Letters
The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), signed on December 3, 2004, required that, not later than one year after the date of enactment of the reauthorized IDEA, each state is required to have in place a performance plan evaluating the state's implementation of Part B and describing how the state will improve such implementation. This plan is called the Part B State Performance Plan (SPP) and is required to be posted on the state's website.
In addition, each state reports annually to the public on the performance of each of its local educational agencies according to the targets in its SPP. The state also reports annually to the Secretary on its performance in meeting its SPP targets. This report is called the Part B Annual Performance Report (APR), this report must also be posted on the state's website.