The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The purpose of this act was to replace and update the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was signed into law in 2002. The purpose of ESSA is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” ESSA went into effect for the 2017-2018 school year. Funding is authorized through the 2020 – 2021 school year. Although ESSA retained the annual standardized testing requirements from NCLB, the law moved the federal accountability aspect to state governments. States must still submit an accountability plan to the Education Department, but ESSA also allows for local educational agencies to apply for subgrants for local accountability plans.
For New York State ESSA implementation plan, please visit NYS Education Department site: Visit Site
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes a free appropriate public education available to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.
IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities would have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has since been revised many times.
The primary purposes of IDEA are:
To provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. IDEA requires schools to find and evaluate students suspected of having disabilities, at no cost to parents. Once students are identified as having a disability, schools must provide them with special education and related services (like speech therapy and counseling) to meet their unique needs. The goal is to help students make progress in school. (Please look under FAPE for more information on our website).
To give parents a voice in determining their child’s education. Under IDEA, you have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about your child. At every point of the process, the law gives you specific rights and protections. These are called procedural safeguards. For example, one safeguard is that the school must receive your consent before providing services to your child.
If you think your child needs special education services, you must follow a legal process to make it happen, starting with an evaluation. You can request an evaluation for special education at any time. IDEA provides rights and protections to children with disabilities and to their families. Understanding your rights under IDEA can make it easier for your child to get the help he/she needs (and is legally entitled to) at school.
Parts in IDEA :
- Part A – General Provisions
- Part B – Assistance for Education of All Children with Disabilities (school age children preschool – age 21)
- Part C – Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Age 0- 3)
- Part D – National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities
IDEA lists 13 different disability categories under which disabled individuals aged 3 to 21 may be eligible for services. The IDEA’s disability terms and definitions guide how states define disabilities, clarifying the eligibility requirements for a free appropriate public education under special education law. The disability categories listed in IDEA are:
- Blindness & Deafness (have both)
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Other health impairment (ex: ADHD, Epilepsy and etc. )
- Specific learning disability (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia,dysgraphia and other learning issues)
- Speech or language impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Visual impairment, including blindness
However, having one of the 13 disabilities listed above does not automatically qualify a child for services under IDEA. To qualify, an individual must have a disability and require special education in order to make progress in school due to their disability.
Example: A student may have an orthopedic impairment such as Cerebral Palsy and be confined to a wheelchair, but if the student is doing well in school, the child may not be covered by IDEA. Sometimes schools and parents disagree over whether a child is covered. When that happens, IDEA provides options for resolving the dispute. There are steps you can take if your child is denied services under IDEA. One option is to consider a 504 plan, which provides accommodations to help kids in school. 504 plans are covered by a different law called Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
IDEA further defines each of these disability terms. We’ve provided those definitions on pages 3 and 4. Under IDEA, a child may not be identified as a “child with a disability” primarily because he/she speaks a language other than English and does not speak or understand English well. A child may also not be identified as having a disability just because he/she has not had enough appropriate instruction in math or reading.
More resources about IDEA:
Section 504 is a Federal Civil Rights Law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Children that qualify under this law receive services and/or accommodations in the public school system without being classified under IDEA and their school district’s Committee on Special Education.
IEPs (Individualized Education Program) and 504s are similar, and it is easy for families to become confused about the differences. The most important difference to remember is that an IEP is a specialized education program while a 504 is a specialized education program usually within a general education setting. A child that qualifies for a 504 plan may have any disability (unlike IDEA) such as learning or attention issues. To qualify for a 504, the disability must interfere with the child’s ability to learn in a general education classroom. This is why a child that doesn’t qualify for an IEP might still be able to get a 504 plan.
504 plans have no set rules or standards as far as who creates the 504; no notice has to be given in writing, nor does a plan have to be formally written (but most schools will still put it in writing).The 504 plan should detail what accommodations or services the child will receive, who will provide those accommodations, and who will oversee the plan.
Schools must notify families about changes or evaluations that will be done in conjunction to the 504. A 504 is reviewed every year or when needed. 504s do not receive extra funding from the government for eligible students. However, the government is allowed to take funding away if a school does not comply with a 504. If your child is not found eligible for a 504, there are ways to try and resolve the dispute such as mediation, alternative dispute resolution, impartial hearing, a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights, or a lawsuit.
More Resources about Section 504:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it possible for disabled individuals to live a life of freedom and equality. Passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on July 26, 1990, the ADA is the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. This is a federal civil rights law that makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. This law applies to situations or locations including school, work and public places. ADA states that anyone with a disability is someone who experiences “physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more life activities.” Life activities can include speaking, hearing, seeing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and/or communicating. ADA protects children with ADHD, learning disabilities and even food allergies.
The ADA also protects the civil rights of people with disabilities in all aspects of employment, the access of public services such as transportation, and guaranteed access to public accommodations such as restaurants, stores, hotels and other types of public locations.
How ADA works in the lives of individuals with disabilities
Because many of ADA’s objectives overlap with IDEA and 504, ADA can be used in conjunction with IDEA and 504. While IDEA and 504 offer more protection than ADA in a school setting, ADA helps with outside activities and camps not run by your school that your child may participate in. After school activities at school are covered under Section 504.
ADA requires camps, Little Leagues, trade schools, and testing agencies (SAT/ACT) to provide “reasonable” accommodations to children with disabilities. Remember that “reasonable” is the key word. ADA is very important when your child grows up.
ADA states that people don’t have to disclose their learning issues to employers, as long as they don’t expect any extra help or assistance. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of a physical or mental impairment. They cannot be fired, nor can they be turned down for a promotion or raise solely because of their condition. Employers also cannot ask employees about their condition. However, your child/employee must prove he/she is qualified for the job and have the skills and education necessary for that job. To receive reasonable accommodations, your child/employee must make a request for such accomodations in writing.
Employers may deny requests for reasonable accommodations if the request would cause an “undue hardship” upon the company. As with IDEA and 504, if you wish to file a complaint, there are resources to do this.
If you think your child’s rights were violated in school, you should write to the US Department of Education. If it is a workplace complaint, you should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If it is a complaint at a camp, club, or testing agency, you sould contact the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mor Resources about ADA:
Early Intervention – Birth until 3 Years of Age
States that receive IDEA funds for Early Intervention (EI) must serve all infants and toddlers (birth to 3 years old) with developmental delays or established risk conditions. States may also serve infants and toddlers who are deemed to be at biological or environmental risk.
To qualify for early intervention, your child must have a developmental delay or specific health conditions such as genetic disorders, birth defects, and/or hearing loss. These health conditions do not include learning issues such as dyslexia or ADHD. A developmental delay is defined differently by each state. Please check the following website for NYS or other states’ definitions of developmental delays. This list was provided by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.
- More Info – View PDF
Early Intervention Service Process
- Visit by the Initial Service Coordinator
- A multidisciplinary evaluation to look at the child’s functioning in five areas of development, including the area(s) of concern to determine eligibility
- An IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) meeting to develop a service plan
- Early Intervention services if the child is eligible
- Review after six months/evaluate annually
- Transition to Preschool Special Education (3–5) or to other early childhood services
- Early intervention services can be provided until the child’s third birthday.
Referral is the first step in any special education process. The evaluation process is free, and it is necessary to see if your child qualifies for services under early intervention. You or your child’s doctor can request the evaluation if you think your child may have a delay in development. If your child qualifies for early intervention, some common services he/she may receive are physical therapy, speech therapy, and/or occupational therapy. These services are provided either in your home, daycare or preschool.
What is Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)?
If the evaluation shows that your child qualifies for early intervention services, you will have a meeting to come up with an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP is a plan that addresses the needs of the child and family and is developed by a multidisciplinary team. Additionally, an IFSP defines the family as being the recipient of early intervention services. The IFSP must be evaluated once a year and reviewed at six-month intervals.
Early Childhood Special Education & Committee on Pre-School Special Education (CPSE)
Early Childhood Education is mandated for preschool for children with disabilities ages 3–5 under federal law. The Committee on Pre-School Special Education (CPSE) coordinates special education evaluations and services for children ages 3-5. Regional offices of the CPSE serve families in their local school districts. Local education agencies may elect to use a variety of service options such as an integrated classroom, a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT), or special programs. Instead of an IFSP, your child is now under an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and all program planning for your child’s education will be within an IEP.
Childhood and adolescent Special Education Processes (Grade K-12)
If your child is eligible to receive special education services in elementary level and above, the services provided for your child will be discussed at the Committee on Special Education (CSE). By law, schools must provide individualized education programs to eligible children with disabilities. This help is called special education and related services. A simplified step-by-step process of the special education process can be found below.
1. Observation & Referral Process (Under IDEA)
When a child is identified by a parent or by a teacher as having learning issues, the referral process can begin through a verbal or written request for an evaluation.
2. Evaluation and Eligibility Determination
All children suspected of having a disability must receive a nondiscriminatory multifactored evaluation.
3. Program Planning (Development of IEP)
An individualized education program must be developed for children identified as having a disability.
The IEP team must determine the least restrictive educational environment that meets the student’s needs
5. Annual Review and Evaluation
The IEP must be thoroughly and formally reviewed on an annual basis.
What is an evaluation?
An evaluation is a series of steps are needed to look at (or evaluate) your child’s strengths, weaknesses and school performance. These steps can help you to determine if your child has a learning issue and/or an attention issue.
For a child that is 3 to 18 years old, an evaluation can be requested from the child’s school district. It does not matter if your child attends private school or is home schooled; you can still request an evaluation from your zoned school district. Before your child can receive special education and related services, the school must give him/her a comprehensive evaluation. This process is guided by legal rules in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A teacher, your child’s doctor, principal, or you as a parent can request an evaluation.
Different types of evaluations can be conducted by your school district. If your school district conducts a Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Evaluation, the information from this evaluation can be used to help develop your child’s IEP or 504 if needed.
Your child’s evaluation may include the following evaluations:
- Psychological Evaluation
- Psychoeducational/Educational/Cognitive Testing
- Neuropsychological Evaluation
- Speech and Language Evaluation
- Social History
- Occupational Therapy Evaluation
- Physical Therapy Evaluation
- Medical Evaluation
- Source: Visit Site
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. IDEA requires that every child between the ages of 3 and 21 that receives special education services must have an IEP.
What’s the IEP’s purpose?
The IEP has two general purposes:
-to set reasonable learning goals for a child
-to state the services that the school district will provide for the child.
What’s in an IEP?
Each child’s IEP must contain specific information as listed within IDEA, our nation’s special education law.
The IEP must include:
– A statement of present levels of educational performance
– A statement of annual goals
– A statement of special education and related services
– An explanation of the extent to which the student will not participate with nondisabled children
– Individual modifications for state assessment
– The projected date for the beginning and duration of services
– A statement of how the child will be assessed
– Beginning at age 14, a statement of transition service needs must be included
– Beginning at age 16, an individual transition plan must be developed
When is the IEP developed?
An IEP meeting must be held within 30 calendar days after it is determined, through a comprehensive and individual evaluation, that a child has one of the disabilities listed in IDEA and needs special education and related services. A child’s IEP must also be reviewed annually thereafter to determine whether the annual goals of the IEP are being achieved. If annual goals are not adequately being achieved, the IEP must be revised appropriately to account for the child’s needs.
Who develops the IEP?
The IEP is developed by a team of individuals that includes key school staff and the child’s parents. The team meets, reviews the assessment information available about the child, and designs an educational program to address the child’s educational needs that result from his or her disability.
The IEP team must include the following members:
– Regular education teachers
– Special education teachers
– LEA representative
– An individual who can interpret evaluation results
– Others at the discretion of the parent or school
– The student (age 14 or older must be invited)
Can students be involved in developing their own IEPs?
Yes, DEA actually requires that the student be invited to any IEP meeting where transition services will be discussed. These services are designed to help the student plan for his or her transition to adulthood and life after high school. Further information about transition services is available on our Preparing Transition to Adulthood page, including how to involve students in their own IEP development.
Preparing Transition to Adulthood
Overview of Transition during High School
The purpose of transition services and plannings are to prepare students to move from the world of school to the world of adulthood. IDEA requires that transition planning start by the time the student reaches age 16. Transition planning may start earlier (when the student is younger than 16) if the IEP team decides it would be appropriate to do so. Transition planning takes place as part of developing the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP team (which includes the student and the parents) develops the transition plan.
The student must be invited to any IEP meeting where postsecondary goals and transition services needed to reach those goals will be considered. In transition planning, the IEP team considers areas such as postsecondary education or vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation. Transition services must be a coordinated set of activities oriented toward producing results. Transition services are based on the student’s needs and must take into account his or her preferences and interests.
What IDEA Requires:
IDEA’s provisions at §300.320(b) regarding what must be included in a student’s IEP no later than when that student turns 16:
(b) Transition services. Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include —
(1) Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
(2) The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
Things to prepare during high-school -Before turning 18
Transition into the adulthood can present challenges for all young people. It is even more challenging for some youth with disabilities. Families and schools will require unique strategies to assist the transitioning students with disabilities to achieve the maximum possible independence in working, living and participating in the community as adults.
Transition planning is a process that brings together a student and those individuals directly involved in helping the student prepare to enter a post-school environment. It should be designed to ensure that the student will be provided the necessary skills and services to make a smooth transition from school to adult life with as little interruption as possible. Here are some of the examples of to do list to prepare the life after high school.
To Do List (examples)
– Service eligibility Application to community agencies outside the school district
– Set up travel plans (e.g., taxi, buses, trains or travel assistant programs)
– Apply for disability services available in College or post secondary education
– Apply for Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR)
– Apply for services through Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD – students with developmental disabilities)
– Apply for Contact NYS Commission for the Blind (students with Blindness)
– Apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if necessary
– File Guardianship 17A Petition (If necessary, Guardian of the person. A guardian of the person can make life decisions for the ward like health care, education and welfare decisions)
– Housing plans (if necessary)
– Recreation and community life
- More information and resources: CIDA provides a series of workshops related to transition resources.
- Please call 718-224-8197 for upcoming transition workshops or events.
Other NYS Agencies
- Advocates for children of NY – Visit Site
How to apply for Access VR services
- NYS ACCES-VR – Visit Site
- NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities – Visit Site
- NYS Office of Mental Health – Visit Site
- NYS Commission for Blind – Visit Site
- NYS Deaf-Blind Collaborative – Visit Site
- NYC Deaf and Hard Hearing Services – Visit Site
- Long Island Jewish Hearing & Speech Center
Hearing Loss Association of America North Shore Chapter of Long Island
Sal or Charlie email@example.com 516.331.0231
- Hearing Loss Association of America NYC Chapter
Katherine Bouton firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Fredericks email@example.com 212-674-9128