U.S. Department of Education Update: Changes to IDEA Website

Over the last year, there has been a lot of change on the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) IDEA website. Early in 2017, there was a site outage on ‘idea.ed.gov’ and parents could not access important information about IDEA. The outage was due to the IDEA website being located on an unstable, outside server, rather than directly on the USED server.

In response, USED developed a new IDEA site on their own server and sought feedback from advocates, parents, and the community on how they could make the new website more helpful. In June 2017, the new IDEA website launched with two major changes:

  1. USED removed outdated information. Since IDEA was passed in 2004, some important changes happened, which made certain resources on the website outdated. For example, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed and it eliminated the term “highly qualified teacher,” which was a term used in IDEA. As a result, USED had to make some small changes to the IDEA regulations so that the laws would be aligned. USED has accounted for changes like these and has removed outdated content from their new IDEA website.
  2. USED added new functionality to improve how parents, educators, and advocates access the information. For example, users can now search through all of the website’s content using one search bar, rather than having to search in different sections of the website. In addition, the topic list was updated with new, more relevant topic areas that users can browse through.

Beginning April 30th, anyone visiting the former IDEA website (idea.ed.gov) will be redirected to the new page (sites.ed.gov/idea). Between now and the end of April, USED will notify the community about the upcoming changes through their newsletters and emails. They are offering a place for you to ask comments or provide feedback during the process and will host webinars to explain the functionality on the new website.

Changes to the USED IDEA website only alter the way users access information about the law, and do not impact the actual services students receive in school or their rights under IDEA. We are working with USED to ensure that parents and educators have the most accurate and up-to-date information available on IDEA and the rights of students with disabilities.

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