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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Interactions with Selected Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act(NCLB)

Ann Lordeman
Specialist in Social Policy

Nancy Lee Jones
Legislative Attorney

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) are two of the most significant federal statutes relating to education. Although both have the goal of improving education—IDEA for children with disabilities and NCLB for all children—the two statutes take different approaches. IDEA focuses on the individual child, with an emphasis on developing an individualized education program (IEP) and specific services for children with disabilities, while NCLB takes a more global view, with an emphasis on closing gaps in achievement test scores and raising the aggregate scores of all demographic groups of pupils to specific levels. 

On December 4, 2004, President Bush signed P.L. 108-446, which reauthorized and amended IDEA. Among other things, P.L. 108-446 was aimed at better coordinating special education with the requirements of NCLB. Changes to IDEA have been in effect since the 2005-2006 school year. 

The relationship of IDEA and NCLB has become of increasing significance because of this relatively recent reauthorization of IDEA and guidance and regulations from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on NCLB issues related to the education of children with disabilities. This report will provide a brief overview of IDEA and NCLB, a discussion of the intersection of selected provisions of IDEA and NCLB, and a discussion of ED regulations and guidance regarding IDEA and NCLB. The report concludes with a discussion of possible issues related to the interaction of IDEA and NCLB.


Date of Report: January 13, 2010
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RL33444
Price: $29.95

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