About IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the United States' Special Education federal law that guarantees all eligible students receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) meeting learning needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible. IDEA allocates federal dollars to state programs in order to implement a variety of developmental and educational services for students with disabilities. Nationally, more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth are served under this program.

IDEA was first enacted in 1975, amended several times including in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, and reauthorized by President Bush in December of 2004. This act is aligned to the No Child Left Behind Act and organized in four parts:

  • Part A - General Provisions: Contains the purpose of the act and the definition of terms.
  • Part B - Education for Children with Disabilities (Preschool and School Age Programs) : Includes the procedures to follow related to the education of preschool and school aged children, individual evaluations, eligibility criteria, Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and educational placements.
  • Part C - Refers to the provisions for infants and toddlers with disabilities: Early intervention and other services for infants and toddlers and their families.
  • Part D - Support Services: Includes the supports available to national activities that improve the education of children with disabilities such as: personnel professional development activities, technical assistance and research.

To learn more, visit the new IDEA website (Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004)