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National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

National Assessment of IDEA Overview
IDEA National Assessment Implementation Study Executive Summary and Report

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reauthorized in 2004, supports states in the provision of early intervention and special education and related services for 7 million children and youth with disabilities. In fiscal year 2010, federal funding for IDEA was $12.6 billion.

The congressionally mandated study provides a national picture of state agency implementation of early intervention programs for infants and toddlers (IDEA Part C) and both state and school district implementation of special education programs for preschool- and school-age children (IDEA Part B). The study is based on surveys of state agency directors and a nationally representative sample of district special education directors conducted in 2009. The key findings include:

  • State Part C agencies support the transition of toddlers with disabilities to Part B preschool-age special education programs, but Part C has not expanded to serve children until kindergarten. At age 3, toddlers receiving Part C services transition to Part B services (if eligible), typically involving a change in lead agency (in 46 states) and often a change in support staff, service settings, and services.
  • Most school districts (85 percent) do not use IDEA Part B funds to provide Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS). IDEA 2004 permits, and in some cases requires, school districts to use some of their Part B funds to provide CEIS, services for students not yet identified as needing special education. These services are meant to address the overrepresentation of racial/ethnic minority students in special education.
  • Most school districts implement Response to Intervention (RtI), use RtI data when determining specific learning disability (SLD) eligibility, and support RtI with district general funds. RtI, a range of practices for monitoring student academic and behavioral progress and providing targeted interventions, was added to IDEA in 2004 as a way to inform the determination of SLD and implement CEIS.

PDF File View, download, and print the National Assessment of IDEA Overview as a PDF file (765 KB)
PDF File View, download, and print the IDEA National Assessment Implementation Study: Final Report as a PDF file (3.4 MB)