The U.S. Department of Education published final regulations to Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on June 30, 2017. It’s important to understand what changed and why.

When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in 2015, it made necessary changes to IDEA, since some ESSA provisions relate directly to students with disabilities. As a result, the regulations that implement IDEA must now be updated to reflect the changes brought by ESSA and to keep the laws consistent. In addition, there are some IDEA regulations that cross-reference ESSA, and those references must be updated for accuracy.

This is not an opportunity to revise or update any other IDEA regulations that were not already incorporated into ESSA. The regulations being revised are limited to only those impacted by ESSA.

Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education’s final IDEA regulations:

  • Remove IDEA definitions to make them consistent with ESSA, including removing the definitions of core academic subjects, highly qualified special education teachers, and scientifically based research;
  • Revise IDEA definitions to reflect the definitions included in ESSA, including the definition of regular high school diploma;
  • Move the qualification requirements for special education teachers from one section to another;
  • Revise the alternate assessment requirements to provide clarification on: (1) guidelines and procedures for conducting alternate assessments that measure the achievement of children with the most significant cognitive disabilities; and (2) the information that must be provided to IEP teams and parents.
  • Update cross-references to sections of ESSA within the IDEA regulations
  • Make other technical corrections to the regulations, such as correcting typographical errors.

(See a summary chart from the U.S. Department of Education here. )

These changes are necessary to make sure IDEA is consistent with ESSA, and to allow states, districts, and schools to successfully implement both laws. If you have questions or concerns, you can find more information in the Federal Register notice, where you can also find contact information for the U.S. Department of Education.

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