IDEA Reauthorization Signed Into Law The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been reauthorized with significant changes that will affect the way school-based practitioners serve students. President Bush signed the legislation, now Public Law 108-446, on Dec. 3, 2004. The new law includes provisions important to school-based clinicians, including those who deal with paperwork ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   January 01, 2005
IDEA Reauthorization Signed Into Law
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   January 01, 2005
IDEA Reauthorization Signed Into Law
The ASHA Leader, January 2005, Vol. 10, 1-22. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.10012005.1
The ASHA Leader, January 2005, Vol. 10, 1-22. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.10012005.1
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been reauthorized with significant changes that will affect the way school-based practitioners serve students. President Bush signed the legislation, now Public Law 108-446, on Dec. 3, 2004.
The new law includes provisions important to school-based clinicians, including those who deal with paperwork reduction and personnel qualifications, modify Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), establish birth-to-six programs and new early intervening services, and give states additional options to identify children with specific learning disabilities.
ASHA devoted considerable resources to advancing members’ interests through intensive direct lobbying by staff and a coalition of parent, professional, and business organizations. Members made hundreds of visits to Capitol Hill and sent thousands of letters, e-mails, and phone calls to members of Congress.
A vigorous effort was made to ensure that members working in school settings provided input into the Association’s priorities for the IDEA reauthorization. These key issues—including paperwork reduction, maintaining qualified providers, model forms, and enhanced transition into and from Part C programs—were communicated to Congress during the three-year reauthorization process. ASHA was pleased with such outcomes as paperwork reduction, model forms, and improvements in the IEP process, but was disappointed in Congress’ action on personnel qualifications.
An analysis prepared by ASHA is available online for members.
ASHA will provide a more detailed analysis in early January and will proactively work with the U.S. Department of Education as it develops regulations on the new IDEA law. Watch for more analyses of sections that affect school-based members in The ASHA Leader and on the ASHA Web page.
Paperwork Reduction Waiver/Model Forms
Under the new law, the Department of Education may grant waivers of statutory or regulatory requirements under Part B, other than civil rights requirements, for up to 15 states and for a maximum of four years. The waivers are based on state proposals to reduce excessive paperwork and non-instructional time burdens that do not assist in improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities.
Congress and the Department of Education are expected to monitor these demonstration projects and take successful innovations from them in order to reduce paperwork nationwide.
The bill also requires the Secretary of Education to publish and disseminate model forms for use in schools.
Qualified Providers
ASHA is concerned at the bill’s elimination of the requirement that state education personnel standards meet the highest requirement for a profession or discipline in that state. Qualifications for related services personnel may now be consistent with any state-approved or state-recognized certification, licensing, or other comparable requirement applicable to a specific professional discipline. Such personnel must not have had their certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis.
States are no longer required to develop a comprehensive system of personnel development, but must adopt policies that require local education agencies (LEAs) to take measurable steps to recruit, hire, and retain highly qualified personnel.
The Dec. 14 issue of The ASHA Leader reported that ASHA President Larry Higdon expressed great disappointment in Congress’ decision to eliminate the highest qualified provider requirement. The accompanying report language to the bill indicated concern that current law has “established an unreasonable standard for state educational agencies to meet, and as a result, has led to a shortage of the availability of related services providers.”
ASHA’s Executive Board discussed the challenges faced with the passage of the bill, and a strong response is being developed.
Individualized Education Programs
The new law provides nothing in IDEA regarding IEPs that shall be construed to require additional information beyond what is explicitly stated. A member of the IEP team may be excused from an IEP meeting: (1) if no modifications are being made to that member’s area of curriculum or service; or (2) when a relevant modification is made, if the member provides input prior to the meeting. However, the IEP team member, the parent, and the LEA must agree to the member’s being excused.
Under the new law, LEAs are encouraged to consolidate IEP meetings and re-evaluation meetings. Also, parents and LEAs may agree to participate in IEP team and placement meetings using video conferences and conference calls. Parents and LEAs, through a responsible teacher or service provider, may amend or modify the child’s current IEP without having to convene an IEP meeting. Parents and LEAs may also develop three-year IEPs for students aged 18 and older, emphasizing interagency coordination with adult programs. In addition, the new bill eliminates mandatory benchmarks and short-term objectives for children with disabilities, except for those children who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards.
Specific Learning Disabilities
The bill revises a special rule for eligibility determination to provide that a lack of scientifically based reading instruction cannot be the determining factor for deciding whether the child has a disability. The bill gives local educational agencies the option to eliminate the IQ-discrepancy requirement, and to allow response-to-intervention as one alternative.
Other changes made that will be of interest to ASHA members include: additional flexibility for funding early intervening services and the birth-to-six program and improvements in the transition from IDEA Part C to Part B. The legislation also creates a National Center for Special Education Research; revises data collection requirements for English language learners; and renames and replaces the current Part D, Subpart 1, State Program Improvement Grants with a program called State Personnel Preparation and Professional Development Grants.
Neil Snyder, Charlie Diggs, Kathy Whitmire, Sue Karr, Catherine Clarke and Reed Franklin of ASHA’s governmental relations and schools units contributed to this article. For more information on IDEA, contact Neil Snyder at nsnyder@asha.org or through the Action Center at 800-498-2071, ext. 4257.
Executive Board Approves Plan to Confront School Qualification Challenges

In response to changes in the personnel qualifications section of the new IDEA law, the ASHA Executive Board has approved a comprehensive plan to assist state associations facing possible challenges to speech-language pathology and audiology credentials required to provide appropriate speech, language and hearing services in schools.

The plan provides for a series of strategic initiatives to:

  • collect data and information related to personnel issues and develop advocacy resources.

  • work with state associations to identify, outreach, to and engage key stakeholders in advocacy efforts on these issues.

  • collaborate with state associations to assist in providing the resources needed to deal with threats to reducing state certification and licensure requirements for ASHA school-based members.

For more information on how state associations can work with ASHA on these issues, contact Charlie Diggs by e-mail at cdiggs@asha.org, or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4151. For additional information on the new IDEA law, please contact Neil Snyder by e-mail at nsnsyder@asha.org, or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4257.

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January 2005
Volume 10, Issue 1