Special education policies practices and programs
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Special Education Policies, Practices, and Programs. Gargiulo Ch. 1 and 2. Special Education.

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Special education policies practices and programs

Special EducationPolicies, Practices, and Programs

Gargiulo Ch. 1 and 2

Special education


  • Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings.

Special education1

Special Education

  • Special Education serves students from birth until age 22

  • The majority of special education teachers work with student with mild-to-moderate disabilities (ex: learning disabilities.)

    • These teachers use or modify the general education curriculum to meet the student’s individual needs.

  • Some special education teachers work with students with moderate-severe disabilities (ex: cognitive disability or severe autism)

    • For these students there is more emphasis on life skills and basic literacy.

Key special education legislation

Key Special Education Legislation

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

    • Began in 1975 as PL 94-142 : Education for All Handicapped Children Act

    • Amended in 1986

    • In 1990 renamed IDEA

    • Amended in 1997 and 2004

Pl 94 142

PL 94-142

  • Considered the most important law in special education

  • Prior to its implementation children with disabilities could be denied appropriate services in schools or refused schooling entirely

  • Called the “Bill of Rights” for students with disabilities

Key ideas in pl 94 142

Key Ideas in PL 94-142

  • Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)

  • Procedural Due Process

  • Nondiscriminatory Assessment

  • Parental Participation

Changes in the 1986 amendments

Changes in the 1986 Amendments

  • Affected education and services for young children with special needs and their families

    • Preschoolers (age 3-5)

      • Early Childhood services

    • Children from birth through age 2

      • Part C

      • Early Intervention services

      • Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

Changes in the 1990 amendments

Changes in the 1990 Amendments

  • Renamed to: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

  • Current language used to describe people with disabilities

  • Individual Transition Plan (ITP) required

  • Expanded related services

  • Added autism and traumatic brain injury as distinct disability categories

  • States held accountable for implementation

Changes in the 1997 amendments

Changes in the 1997 Amendments

  • Disciplinary considerations

  • IEP changes

  • Related services expanded for visually impaired

  • Mediation procedures developed

  • Expanded category of developmental delay

  • Evaluation and reevaluation requirements changed

  • Performance goals/accountability

Changes in the 2004 amendments

Changes in the 2004 Amendments

  • Changed to Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) but everyone still uses IDEA

  • Additional procedures for identifying children with specific learning disabilities (RTI)

  • Altered requirements for IEP meetings

  • IEPs must include statement of present levels of performance

    • Highly qualified special education teachers

    • New regulations for discipline

    • All students participate in state and district assessments (or alternative assessments)

Other legislation impacting special education

Other Legislation Impacting Special Education

Two important Civil Rights laws:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    • Passed in 1990, amended in 1997

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

    • Passed in 1973 (prior to EAHCA)

Americans with disabilities act

Americans With Disabilities Act

  • Designed to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in the pubic and private sectors.

  • Expanded definitions of eligibility may include people with AIDS, substance abuse issues, or any impairment that limits a major life activity.

  • Employers, mass transit systems, and companies who provide products and services must make “reasonable accommodations.”

Americans with disabilities act ada

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • Defines an individual with a disability as one who “has a physical or mental impairment with substantially limits one or more of the major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working.”

Section 504 of the rehab act

Section 504 of the Rehab Act

  • Prohibited discrimination on the basis of handicapping condition in any educational program or activity receiving federal fund financial assistance.

  • Schools may be required to develop plans to meet the needs of students who require accommodations. Section 504 covers the entire lifespan not just the school years.

Section 504 of the rehab act1

Section 504 of the Rehab Act

  • Under Section 504, a student has a disability if that individual has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, working, or learning.

Recent educational reform

Recent Educational Reform

  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (PL 107-110)

  • Includes annual testing for schools to demonstrate adequate yearly progress of all students in mathematics and reading

Key components of special education policy

Key Components of Special Education Policy

  • FAPE (free appropriate public education), required for all children with disabilities;

  • IEP (individualized education program), the written document prepared for each eligible child receiving special education services;

  • LRE (least restrictive environment), where children with disabilities are to receive their free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Key components cont

Key Components cont.

  • Zero Reject-persons with severe disabilities or complex needs cannot be denied educational services

  • Necessary Support Services-occupational therapy, speech pathology-are provided

  • Due Process-one of the primary concepts of IDEA is parental participation. In order to make this a reality, the law provides ways that parents can appeal a decision by school or district personnel

Educational settings

Educational Settings

Traditional view of service delivery options

Traditional View of 
Service Delivery Options

Disability categories under idea

Disability Categories Under IDEA

  • Autism

  • Deaf-Blind

  • Emotional Disability (Behavioral Disability)

  • Hearing Impairment (including Deafness)

  • Mental Retardation (Cognitive Impairment)

  • Multiple Disabilities

  • Orthopedic Impairment

  • Other Health Impairment (can include ADHD)

  • Specific Learning Disability

  • Speech or Language Impairment

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Vision Impairment

  • Developmental Delay for children ages 3-9

Steps of the special education process

Steps of the Special Education Process

  • Referral

    • Child is referred for assessment

  • Parental Consent/Domain Meeting

    • Parent/Guardian sign consent

    • Assessment Domains are determined

  • Assessment

    • Evaluation is conducted by a multidisciplinary team to determine if a disability is present

      *process may vary if RTI being used

Steps of the special education process1

Steps of the Special Education Process

  • Eligibility Meeting

    • review assessments

    • determine adverse effects on education

    • determine needs

    • determine eligibility

Steps of the special education process2

Steps of the Special Education Process

  • IEP Meeting

    • review needs

    • determine accommodations/ modifications needed

    • write goals

    • determine timeline for meeting goals

    • determine services needed to meet goals (special education and related services)

    • determine location for services

Iep components

IEP Components

  • Current performance

  • Goals

  • Special education and related services

  • Accommodations and Modifications

  • Participation with typical students

  • Participation in state- and district-wide assessments

  • Dates and locations

  • Progress measuring

  • Transition services and Behavior plans as needed

Follow up


  • Review IEP annually

  • Re-evaluate eligibility every three years (unless determined unnecessary)

    • Reconvene multidisciplinary team

    • Complete assessments

    • Evaluate eligibility

    • If student still qualifies, review/rewrite IEP (goals, services, acc/mod, etc.)



  • Gargiulo, Richard M. (2011). 4th ed. Special Education in Contemporary Society: An Instruction to Exceptionality, Los Angeles, California: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1-4129-8893-3

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