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Education for All Handicapped Children Act

When writing a research paper on the Education for all Handicapped Chrildren Act, Paper Masters suggests you begin with the act's history. This page outlines how to write a research paper on the Act for education majors. An important part of the history of disibility legislation in America, the Act will most likely be studied by all education majors at the university level. Use this page as a guide or have Paper Masters write you a model research project on the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, or IDEA.

Begin the research paper by noting that the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975. The act required public schools receiving money from the department of education to provide equal access to education for children living with disabilities. Schools were also required to provide one free meal per day for handicapped students.


Education for All Handicapped Children Act

To meet the act's requirements, schools had to evaluate the physical and mental disabilities of students so they could develop effective educational plans. Plans were expected to provide an educational experience as close as possible to those received by non-disabled students.

A Supreme Court ruling in 1984 (Smith v. Robinson) made schools even more responsible for educating disabled children. In this case, one school had sent a disabled child to a poorly equipped hospital that could not provide adequate education. The court determined that the school could not evade its responsibilities by sending students to outside resources that could not properly adhere to the act's requirements. The court's decision encouraged Congress to amend the law so that parent's sue schools that do not provide adequate educational experiences and collect attorney's fees from the schools after winning the case.

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was revised in 1990, when it was renamed as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Key Components of the IDEA

  1. The first key component deals with FAPE or "free appropriate public education". This said in essence that for the age range in which a state provided a free, public education, they were required to provide an appropriate education to all students of that age, regardless of disabilities.
  2. The second key component was the development of the IEP or ‘individualized educational plan’, which schools were required to develop with parental involvement and which would dictate short and long term educational goals for the student.
  3. The third key component was the LRE or the ‘least restrictive environment’, which demanded that students be placed in the most normal setting they could effectively participate and learn in.
  4. The fourth key component is that of nondiscriminatory tests, an assurance that testing needed to effectively consider native language and student disability. The fifth key component was due process procedures, set down to protect all key parties, the school, parents and student, throughout the process of identification, placement and IEP implementation.
  5. The final key component, ensuring the feasibility of the others, was the promise of federal grant monies to states passing relative laws and providing services as outlined under the Act. Congress was charged with authorizing continued funding for the law periodically and over time has often seized this opportunity to make requisite changes or amendments.

The process of referral is meant to simultaneously keep students from slipping through the cracks and stop them from being identified needlessly. When a student first shows signs of struggling with achievement in the classroom he is to first be helped within the confines of the classroom, through differentiated instruction and remediation. If the classroom is still not meeting his needs, he will be given opportunities for pre-referral interventions, often offered through a school-wide program of Instructional Support or similar service. If the instructional support process proves ineffective, a formal multi-disciplinary team will be assembled, including parents, professionals, counselors, administration and any other necessary experts. The team will work to determine what course of action is best in order to help the child succeed. An important part of the process will be the administering of norm referenced and criterion referenced tests, such as but not limited to IQ tests, achievement tests, ADHD checklists, Speech and Language assessments - whatever is needed to assess the current levels of functioning and potential of the child. If the results of these tests show that the child is eligible for special education services, the multidisciplinary team will decide if the child is in fact in need of any of the Cascade of service delivery options available under the IEP and specially designed instruction. From there a plan is developed with appropriate goals and supports.

Recent Updates to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act or the IDEA

A series of updates and changes were made to the Act over the years.  One of the oversights in the Act was that it covered school age children starting at the age of five.  Since many children begin school programs in the Pre-K years, this was amended in 1986 with Public Law (P.L) 99-457; the law was extended to protect 3 and 4 years olds and also to intervene for identification of special needs children from birth onward.  In 1990, the law was again amended.  P.L 101-476 expanded the scope of what a child was entitled to under the definition of a “free education.”  Children with special needs were entitled to a free education outside of the classroom setting, such as the home, a rehabilitation setting or other location. 

In 1997, P.L. 105-17 expanded the crucial concept of the Individualized Education Plan. The core team for the IEP was a special education and a general education teacher. Furthermore, the states were required to report on the progress on all students, not just those special needs.  This amendment also discussed “considering” discipline when a special needs student’s behavior interferes with his learning or the learning of other students.

The most recent changes were adopted in 2004 under IDEA 2004: P.L. 108-446.  A crucial change was the concept of the IEP team.  It indicated that the parent would also be a part of the IEP, and when appropriate, the child would be included.  At the parent’s approval, other agencies with specialized knowledge regarding the child’s particular disability may be utilized in the IEP.

Related Research Paper Topics

Educating Children with Special Needs
This legislation, known as IDEA—Reauthorized Individuals With Disabilities Education Act—was designed to strengthen academic expectations and ...

Special Education Policy
In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which enabled all children, regardless of their mental, physical, or emotional state.

History of Special Education
These amendments resulted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA that is still in place today.

Assistive Technology
The Individual with Disabilities act (IDEA) states that assistive technology must be considered for students.

Treatment of People with Mental and Physical Disabilities
People Treated With Mental and Physical Disabilities Research Paper looks at how the Americans with Disabilities Act changed social attitudes and public perception of individuals with handicaps.