Mathematics Learning Disorder Guidelines

Updated: Sep 30, 2021
  • Author: Bettina E Bernstein, DO; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Guidelines Summary

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Originally approved by the US Congress in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is an attempt to remedy problems that contribute to the barriers faced by children with disabilities. [18]

  • IDEA has been updated approximately every 5 years, the latest of which was in 2004. IDEA aims to strengthen academic expectations of, and accountability for, the 5.4 million US children with disabilities and to bridge the too common gap between the regular school curriculum and what these children learn.

  • Several ideas have become part of the special education vocabulary because of this law, including free appropriate public education (FAPE), individualized education program (IEP), and least restrictive environment (LRE). These concepts have been built into the special education system to insure equal access to education for all students.

  • The reauthorization of IDEA 2004 states the following purposes:

    • 1A - To ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a FAPE that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living

    • 1B - To ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected

    • 1C - To assist states, localities, educational service agencies, and federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities

    • 2 - To assist states in the implementation of a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families

    • 3 - To ensure that educators and parents have the necessary tools to improve educational results for children with disabilities by supporting system improvement activities; coordinated research and personnel preparation; coordinated technical assistance, dissemination, and support; and technology development and media services

    • 4 - To assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities.

  • With passage of the IDEA amendments, the US government acknowledged that "Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities." IDEA strives to increase the involvement of parents and educators in the care of children with disabilities.

  • For years, schools were required to wait until a child fell considerably behind grade level before being eligible for special education services. Today, with the release of the final regulations of IDEA 2004, school districts are no longer required to follow this "discrepancy model" but are allowed to find other ways to determine when a child needs extra help. This is being implemented throughout the country through a process called Response to Intervention.

  • Prior to the implementation of IDEA in 1975, approximately 1 million children with disabilities were shut out of schools and hundreds of thousands more were denied appropriate services. Since then, IDEA has changed the lives of children with disabilities.

    • Many children now learn and achieve at levels previously thought impossible. As a result, and in unprecedented numbers, these children are graduating from high school, going to college, and entering the workforce as productive citizens.

    • In the past, as many as 90% of children with serious developmental disabilities were housed in state institutions. Today, 3 times as many young people with disabilities are enrolled in colleges or universities; twice as many 20-year-olds with disabilities are working.

  • Although significant progress has occurred, the status of children with disabilities still falls short of expectations. The following facts reflect this status:

    • Twice as many children with disabilities drop out of school, compared with children without disabilities.

    • Dropouts do not return to school, have difficulty finding jobs, and often end up in the criminal justice system.

    • Girls who drop out often become young unwed mothers at a much higher rate than their peers without disabilities.

    • Many children with disabilities are excluded from the curriculum and from assessments used with classmates without disabilities, actions that limit their possibilities of excelling and achieving higher standards of performance.