Congress Reauthorizes IDEA On Nov. 19, Congress approved a compromise bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) through 2010. The House first passed the bill 397-3 and the Senate later passed it by voice vote, allowing Congress to take credit for a significant bipartisan school bill before the New ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   December 01, 2004
Congress Reauthorizes IDEA
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   December 01, 2004
Congress Reauthorizes IDEA
The ASHA Leader, December 2004, Vol. 9, 3-27. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.09222004.3
The ASHA Leader, December 2004, Vol. 9, 3-27. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.09222004.3
On Nov. 19, Congress approved a compromise bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) through 2010. The House first passed the bill 397-3 and the Senate later passed it by voice vote, allowing Congress to take credit for a significant bipartisan school bill before the New Year. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.
Breaking news of the IDEA reauthorization was announced during the ASHA Schools Forum before an audience of 400 school-based professionals.
The compromise bill would eliminate the use of emergency, temporary and provisional certification for related service providers, but would give states greater authority to determine professional qualifications in schools.
“We are pleased that Congress has recognized that the ongoing cycle of emergency and temporary certification was detrimental for children receiving speech and hearing services under IDEA,” said Kate Gottfred, ASHA’s vice president for governmental and social policies. “But we will need to be vigilant in countering those who would attempt to lower state standards, and aggressively work with state education agencies to address vacancies of qualified providers in schools.”
The report language that accompanied compromise bill stated that the “Conferees intend for State education agencies to establish rigorous qualifications for related services providers to ensure that students with disabilities receive the appropriate quality and quantity of care.” It also encouraged state education agencies to consult with other state agencies, the disability community, and professional organizations to determine the appropriate qualifications for related services providers.
However, the report language also expressed the concern that current law had “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.”
“It was irresponsible and insulting for the Conferees to have allowed the inclusion of a statement dismissing the vast majority of state licensure laws and national certification standards for audiologists and speech-language pathologists that have been the standard of care for over 40 years,” added ASHA President Larry Higdon. “The CCCs are the only standards for the professions that have been both rigorously and scientifically determined to reliably assure that the individual possesses the required knowledge and skills to provide speech and hearing services for children. Eliminating this safeguard puts children’s well-being at risk.”
The Medicaid program requires that speech and hearing services in the schools be provided by individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), as granted by ASHA, or complete the equivalent educational and clinical experience, as well as the national Praxis exam.
The bill includes changes that:
  • Establish a new definition for “highly qualified special education teachers.” New or veteran teachers of special education students need to be certified in special education, and in addition, they must have “appropriate subject matter knowledge” to teach subjects to children that will be assessed by alternate achievement standards. Special education teachers who teach two or more core academic subject must have a degree in each subject and meet a “high objective uniform state standard of evaluation covering multiple subjects.”

  • Authorize up to 15 state projects to request a waiver for up to 4 years of any statutory or regulatory requirements under IDEA. It is unclear how this waiver program would work, but it would not begin until after the U.S. Department of Education issues final regulations. The waiver would not affect a child’s right to receive a free and appropriate public education or affect procedural safeguards. The Senate bill also would require the Secretary of Education to report to congress on paperwork reduction.

  • Create a new early intervention program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The program must target children, “who have not been identified as needing special education or related services but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment.” Additional academic support may include “scientifically based literacy instruction.”

  • Allow new flexibility on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). A demonstration program will give 15 states the option of a three-year IEP for students whose parents consent to the change. Changes to the IEP can be done by the use of conference calls or video conferencing, and attendance at IEP meetings will not be mandatory for teachers and related service providers for which no modifications of the IEP are being made.

  • Authorize-but do not mandate-full funding by 2011. The bill authorizes funding increases of about $2.3 with a goal of reaching 40% of per pupil funding.

  • Create a National Center for Special Education Research. The center will be authorized under a new Part E and established under the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Research that was formally conducted or funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will be shifted to the new Center.

Part B of the law is permanently authorized, though Parts C and D are authorized through 2010. Many provisions will become effective on July 1, 2005. Requirements for the highly qualified special education teacher standards go into affect when the president signs it into law. New regulations will also have to be developed by the Department of Education over the next year.
For more information, contact Neil Snyder by e-mail at nsnyder@asha.org or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4257.
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December 2004
Volume 9, Issue 22