This past year at U.Va., I was trained to help support students in special education programs.  The Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1990 was mandated by law that special education students’ needs were met by teachers, counselors, speech-language pathologists, among other specialists (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Individual Education Programs (IEPs) were created as a result of IDEA to regularly address goals set by the team members (i.e., parents, teachers, psychologists, etc.) and team leader (Ornstein et al., 2011).  Some improvements have been made to IDEA to create the Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) in 2004, which improved IDEA by making five major revisions (Ornstein et al., 2011):

  1. Students cannot be placed in special education as a result of a single criterion (i.e., IQ score).
  2. If a student is identified as having special needs, school officials must conduct a full assessment and develop intervention strategies (usually there is a strict and specific time limit that dictates how long from when the student enters the school or special education program that the plan is developed and enacted).
  3. Parents/guardians must have full access to diagnostic information and have the right to protest any school official action (usually this is enacted during the IEP meetings).
  4. Individualized education programs (IEPs) must include short and long-term goals.  This document is a lawful document, meaning that parents can bring teachers/school officials to court if the needs of their child are not met.
  5. Educational services must be implemented in the “least restrictive environment” possible.  The growing trend in order to enact this is to create inclusion classes which restrict the student from feeling singled out from their peers.


Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., Gutek, G. L., & Vocke, D. E. (2011). Foundations   of Education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

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