A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

To Assure the Free Appropriate Public Education of all Children with Disabilities - 1995

Chapter 6

Assisting States and Localities in Educating All Children with Disabilities

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires States receiving funds under the Act to make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) available to all eligible children with disabilities. As part of its responsibilities under IDEA, the Department must "assess the impact and effectiveness of State and local efforts . . . to provide . . . free appropriate public education" to children and youth with disabilities (20 U. S. C. 1418(a)(1)-(2)). The U. S. Department of Education, primarily through its Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), aids State educational agencies and local school districts in implementing the nation's special education mandates by making grants pursuant to Congressional appropriations, and providing monitoring oversight, policy support, and technical assistance.

As noted above, one of OSEP's central roles is to ensure that States fulfill their responsibilities under IDEA. As stated in 34 CFR 300.1, the purpose of Part B is to:

ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that includes special education and related services to meet their unique needs; to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected; to assist States and localities to provide for the education of all children with disabilities; and to assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate those children.

Thus, Congress recognized that specially designed instructional services, procedural protections, financial and informational assistance to educational agencies, and ongoing assessment of system effectiveness were all necessary to meet IDEA's ultimate purpose -- to ensure that all children with disabilities have access to appropriate educational services that will enable them to learn to high standards. Accordingly, IDEA sets forth a number of specific requirements, funding authorities, and other mechanisms for implementing the Act's purpose, and OSEP recognizes that it must use a combination of compliance, funding, technical assistance, dissemination, and other leadership strategies to improve educational results for all children and youth with disabilities.

Part B of the IDEA sets forth very specific requirements for identifying children with disabilities, ages birth through 21, and for providing a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities, ages three through 21. OSEP -- and its customers -- children with disabilities and their families -- and its partners -- LEAs, SEAs, and advocacy groups -- recognize that an effective accountability system is critical to ensure continuous progress in achieving educational results for children with disabilities.

[Summary and Implications] [Table of Contents] [The Federal Program Review Process]