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Appropriate Identification of Children with Disabilities for IDEA Services: A Report from Recent National Estimates

Appropriately identifying children with disabilities—in ways that are timely, comprehensive, and accurate—is critical for ensuring that learners receive the supports they need to meet early milestones and succeed in school. In turn, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) charges states and school districts with: (1) finding all children, birth through age 21, suspected of having a disability; (2) evaluating them to determine if they are eligible for IDEA services; and (3) measuring and addressing racial or ethnic disparities in who is identified. Since IDEA's reauthorization in 2004, there is greater access to data and more sophisticated approaches to screen for and detect certain disabilities, an increasingly diverse child population, and new regulations on how to measure disparities in identification. This report examines how state and district practices during the 2019–2020 school year aligned with IDEA's goals of appropriate identification.

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