IDEA 2004 Final Regulations Include Important Changes The Part B final regulations for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (commonly known as IDEA 2004) were issued less than a year after the law celebrated 30 years of guaranteeing a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities. The release of the regulations also marks the ... School Matters
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School Matters  |   October 01, 2006
IDEA 2004 Final Regulations Include Important Changes
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School-Based Settings / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / School Matters
School Matters   |   October 01, 2006
IDEA 2004 Final Regulations Include Important Changes
The ASHA Leader, October 2006, Vol. 11, 27-32. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.11142006.27
The ASHA Leader, October 2006, Vol. 11, 27-32. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.11142006.27
The Part B final regulations for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (commonly known as IDEA 2004) were issued less than a year after the law celebrated 30 years of guaranteeing a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities.
The release of the regulations also marks the end of a five-year reauthorization and regulatory period. After nearly three years of working to reform and revise IDEA, the law was given new life with the signature of President Bush on Dec. 3, 2004. The law took effect on Oct. 13 and is known as Public Law No. 108-446.
This launched a regulatory process at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) designed to explain congressional intent and help states and localities implement and comply with the law. The ED took the unprecedented step of soliciting public comments prior to its release of proposed regulations, and ASHA members actively participated in the regulatory process. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists testified at seven regional public meetings around the country and submitted more than 1,600 comment letters. ASHA also submitted detailed comments to the ED during the “pre-comment” period which ended in early 2005.
In June 2005 the ED released an “un-official” copy of the proposed regulations to implement recently enacted changes, most of which took effect on July 1, 2005-except the provisions for highly qualified teachers which took effect immediately. ASHA members across the country testified at a second series of regional meetings that summer. Following publication of the “official” notice of proposed rulemaking on June 21, 2005, members submitted hundreds of comments.
Over the next year, the ED analyzed the comments and released the official IDEA 2004 Part B final regulations on Aug. 14, 2006. In the end, the new regulations closely align with the language of the law and contain few regulatory changes to avoid over-reaching the statute.
While the regulations allow the hiring of SLPs and audiologists that meet the requirements of any state-recognized certificate or license, the new regulations remove the provision that requires state education personnel standards to meet the highest requirement for a profession or discipline in that state, consistent with a change in the IDEA statute. Member advocacy at the state level will be critical. It is important that members be vigilant concerning any threats to lower personnel standards in their state. SLPs and audiologists will need to work with decision-makers in their state to ensure that personnel standards are maintained.
Changes in IDEA 2004

This special supplement of The ASHA Leader is designed to provide a basic understanding of the changes presented in the Part B final regulations as they relate to school-based clinicians, and offer guidance for the implementation of the regulations.

In this supplement, you’ll find a comparison of the 1999 and 2006 regulations [PDF], highlighting some key changes, including information on personnel qualifications, services to children from diverse backgrounds, and responsiveness-to-intervention. The supplement also can be found in The ASHA Leader Online.

For more information, visit ASHA’s IDEA website. In the coming months, ASHA will produce materials to be used by members in future advocacy efforts.

IDEA Timeline

2002 Reauthorization work begins. Congress works to reform IDEA 1997.

Dec. 3, 2004 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (commonly known as IDEA 2004) signed into law.

Dec. 29, 2004 U.S. Department of Education (ED) solicits comments for the development of regulations. ASHA members submit 1,600 letters and testify at regional meetings.

June 21, 2005

ED releases official notice of proposed regulations for Part B and Part D. Once again, ASHA members submit hundreds of comments on the proposed regulations and testify at regional meetings.

July 1, 2005

Most provisions of IDEA 2004 go into effect-except personnel qualification provisions for special education teachers which took effect when the law was reauthorized.

Sept. 6, 2005

Comment period ends on the proposed regulations.

Aug. 3, 2006

ED releases unofficial copy of IDEA Part B final regulations on its Web site.

Aug. 11, 2006

ASHA releases initial review of IDEA Part B final regulations.

Aug. 14, 2006

ED releases official IDEA Part B final regulations in the Federal Register and model forms.

Sept. 1, 2006

ASHA releases preliminary analysis of the IDEA Part B final regulations on its Web site.

Oct. 13, 2006

The IDEA Part B final regulations for IDEA take effect.

Oct. 17, 2006

ASHA posts on its Web site a detailed, side-by-side analysis of the 1999 and 2006 regulations.

Note: Proposed regulations on Part C are expected to be released in the near future. The final regulations for Part D have been released and became effective on July 5, 2006.

IDEA Regulations Bring Challenges to Maintaining Personnel Qualifications

The IDEA 2004 Part B final regulations include significant changes that can affect the qualifications for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working in the schools. The regulations require that state standards governing the qualifications of related service personnel and paraprofessionals serving children with disabilities be consistent with any state-approved or state-recognized certification, licensing, or other comparable requirement applicable to a specific discipline. Such personnel must not have had their certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis. The regulations allow the use of paraprofessionals who are appropriately trained and supervised.

States are no longer required to develop a comprehensive system of personnel development but must adopt policies that require local education agencies to take measurable steps to recruit, hire, and retain highly qualified personnel.

The regulations allow the hiring of SLPs and audiologists that meet the requirements of any state-recognized certificate or license and remove the provision that requires state education personnel standards to meet the highest requirement for a profession or discipline in that state, consistent with a change in the IDEA statute. It is important that members be vigilant concerning any threats to lower personnel standards in their state and work with state decision-makers to ensure that personnel standards are maintained.

To assist members in these efforts, ASHA has established a Focused Initiative (FI) on Personnel Issues in Healthcare and Education. As part of the FI, ASHA has developed the following resources:

  • A comprehensive packet on recruitment and retention of qualified personnel in schools. The packet offers effective strategies for hiring qualified personnel and includes examples of successful strategies used by districts and states to address this issue. Visit ASHA’s SLP Recruitment section to access the packet.

  • A summary of innovative programs addressing personnel vacancies in health care and education. This resource can be found in the Speech-Language Pathology member section by clicking on “Innovative Programs to Address Personnel Vacancies in Health Care and Education.”

  • New career awareness materials including a new brochure, “Reward Yourself with a Career as a School-Based SLP.” ASHA members may receive up to 25 free copies by contacting ASHA’s Action Center at 800-498-2071 and requesting item #0804366.

Visit ASHA’s Focused Initiatives for more information.

—Susan Karr

Model Forms Help Ease Paperwork

In an attempt to ease the paperwork and administrative burden of IDEA, Congress required the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to publish and widely disseminate “model forms” that are consistent with the requirements of IDEA and “sufficient” to meet those requirements. Specifically, IDEA 2004 requires forms for the Individualized Education Program (IEP), notice of procedural safeguards (explaining parental rights under Part B of IDEA), and prior written notice (when a school district proposes or refuses to take action regarding the educational program of a child with a disability). These forms describe the minimum content that is needed to comply with the regulatory requirements for these topics.

States are not required to use the format or specific language reflected in the model forms. They may choose to add additional content to their forms, so long as any additional content is not inconsistent with Part B requirements. However, section 300.199 of the final regulations requires states to identify in writing to local districts and to the Secretary of Education any rule, regulations, or policy as a state-imposed requirement that is not required by IDEA or its regulations. In its discussion, ED notes that this applies to state IEP forms that require information beyond that explicitly required in IDEA. Furthermore, the regulations require states to minimize the number of rules, regulations, and policies to which districts and schools are subject.

Visit www.ed.gov/IDEA to download the model forms for IEPs, Notice of Procedural Safeguards, and Prior Written Notice. The forms are also available by e-mail at mary.louise.dirrigl@ed.gov or phone at 202-245-7324.

—Kathleen Whitmire

New IDEA Requirements for Serving Diverse Students

The IDEA 2004 Part B final regulations add new requirements to strengthen appropriate service delivery to culturally and linguistically diverse students.

One addition to the regulations on evaluation procedures requires that assessment and other evaluation materials should not only be provided and administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication, but they also should be “in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally.” For culturally and linguistically diverse students, the “form” in which evaluation procedures are administered will vary. The addition of this new language emphasizes the allowance of variance from standard testing procedures when necessary in order to appropriately assess a student.

The regulations made significant strides in addressing the over-representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education. A new provision in the 2006 regulations requires states to review racial and ethnic breakdown of students who receive special education services to determine disproportionality. Districts that have a significant disproportionality will now be required to review and revise policies, procedures, and practices. In addition, these states will be required to set aside up to 15% of their federal aid for students who need “additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment,” according to the law. Early intervening services should be targeted particularly, although not exclusively, to over-identified groups.

The new regulations clearly define steps that must be taken to address the problem of disproportionality in special education. In particular, mandating that funds be allotted for early intervening services is an excellent strategy to reduce this problem. Research has shown that early intervening strategies assist in reducing the number of inappropriate referrals to special education.

—Claudia Saad

Responsiveness-to-Intervention: IDEA Offers an Approach for Struggling Learners

The Responsiveness-to-Intervention (RtI) process is a multi-tiered approach to providing services and interventions to struggling learners at increasing levels of intensity. This approach involves universal screening, high-quality instruction and interventions matched to student need, frequent progress monitoring, and the use of child response data to make educational decisions. RtI can be applied when making decisions about general, compensatory, and special education, creating a well-integrated and seamless system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data.

IDEA 2004 and its final regulations include two new provisions that offer opportunities for implementing RtI. First, IDEA 2004 allows up to 15% of special education funds to be used to provide early intervening services for students who are having academic or behavioral difficulties but are not identified as having a disability (see story above for more information). As a school-wide prevention approach, RtI includes changing instruction for struggling students to help them improve performance and achieve academic progress. To meet the needs of all students, the educational system can use its collective resources to intervene early and provide appropriate interventions and supports to prevent learning and behavioral problems from becoming larger issues.

RtI also provides an alternative to the use of a discrepancy model to assess underachievement. Students who are not achieving when given high quality instruction may have a disability. This approach was authorized in IDEA 2004 through the following provisions: (a) local education agencies (LEAs) may use a student’s response to scientifically-based instruction as part of the evaluation process; and (b) when identifying a specific learning disability, LEAs shall not be required to take into consideration whether a child has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability.

Speech-language pathologists can play a number of important roles in using RtI to identify children with disabilities and provide needed instruction to students in both general education and special education settings. These roles will require some fundamental changes in the way SLPs engage in assessment and intervention activities. To assist members, ASHA has gathered a number of helpful resources into a professional consultation packet on RtI.

—Kathleen Whitmire

OSEP Leadership Conference Focuses on Regulations

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) sponsored a three-day Leadership Conference Aug. 28–30, 2006 in Washington, DC, to begin discussions about the IDEA 2004 Part B final regulations.

The opening presentation by OSEP Director Alexa Posny, titled “Building the Legacy,” focused on accountability for results, flexibility in funding and paperwork, and responsibility for children with disabilities as essential elements of IDEA 2004. She noted that the roll-out of the regulations was relatively “quiet,” with “few changes but much clarification.” She stressed several themes such as preparing students for employment, realizing that special education is not a separate place or system, aligning IDEA and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, empowering parents as partners, and reducing paperwork.

Concurrent sessions were offered on topics including discipline, Individualized Education Programs, private schools, highly qualified teachers, procedural safeguards, early intervening services, identification of specific learning disabilities, and the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). In addition, there was a general session on the 2% rule on flexibility and growth models, issues important to both IDEA and NCLB.

The ED announced a new Web site offering comprehensive information on IDEA 2004 and its implementing regulations, including topic briefs on the issues listed above, which can be found at http://idea.ed.gov.

This conference was the first in a series of events being planned around the release of the regulations. Other events include public meetings beginning at the end of September for parents, teachers, advocates, and others interested in learning about the major themes of the regulations. Sites include Philadelphia (Oct. 17); Seattle (Oct. 24); Minneapolis (Oct. 25); Dallas (Nov. 2); Denver (Nov. 8); and Sacramento, CA (Nov. 14). There will also be three regional implementation meetings in 2007 for state education staff involved in the implementation of IDEA. The latter will be held in Washington, DC (Jan. 30–31); Los Angeles (Feb. 12–13); Kansas City, MO (Feb. 14–15). Visit http://idea.ed.gov for more information.

—Kathleen Whitmire and Catherine Clarke

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October 2006
Volume 11, Issue 14