IDEA 2004

From Emotions to Advocacy

IDEA 2004

“To ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living” and “to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and the parents of such children are protected…”  Section 1400(d)(1)(A)

“Effective transition services to promote successful post-school…education.”  Section 1400(c)(14)


Wrightslaw From Emotions to Advocacy 2nd Edition, pages 151-152:

Child Find requires school districts to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities.  If a child is eligible for special education services under Section 1401(3), the child does not have to have a specific disability label in order to receive special education services.  The school does not have to determine the child’s “label” before providing services.  Schools often spend months evaluating a child before providing any special education services.  During this time, the child falls further behind.

Congress changed the language about participation in assessments in IDEA 2004 to:  “All children with disabilities are included in all general State and district wide assessment programs…with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments where necessary.  The child’s IEP team, including the parents, makes all decisions about accommodations and alternate assessments.

The requirements that schools include all children with disabilities in all State and district assessments may have a negative impact on those schools that fail to use research based methods to teach children to read, write, spell, and do arithmetic, and that fail to assess children’s progress frequently.


Definitions Section 1401

(30) Specific Learning Disability

  • (A)  In General.  The term ‘specific learning disability’ means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
  • (B)  Disorders Included.  Such term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
  • (C)  Such term does not include a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Specific Learning Disabilities Section 1414(b)(6)(A)

“Notwithstanding section 1407(b) of this title, when determining whether a child has a specific learning disability as defined in section 1401 of this title, a local educational agency shall not be required to take into consideration whether a child has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, or mathematical reasoning.”

Wrightslaw From Emotions to Advocacy 2nd Edition, page 143

Congress did not change the definition of “specific learning disability” in IDEA 2004.  However, Congress did change the language about evaluations for specific learning disabilities.  Schools do not have to find a discrepancy between IQ and educational achievement to find a child eligible for special education services as a child with a specific learning disability.

Many terms used to describe disabilities in IDEA are those used during the 1970’s when Congress enacted Public Law 94-142.  The term “minimal brain dysfunction” is now Attention Deficit Disorder.”  “Dyslexia” is a language learning disability in reading, writing, spelling, and/or math.  From a legal perspective, dyslexia is a learning disability that adversely affects educational performance.


ODE Due Process Database Case# SE-2269-2009

Revised IDEA regulations state that a child need not fail or be retained in a course or grade in order to be eligible for services.  34 C.F.R. Section 300.101(c)(1)