Originally signed into law in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the main federal statute governing special education for children. Today, IDEA protects the rights of over six million students with disabilities (approximately 13.5 percent of students) to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education in the least restrictive environment.

When IDEA first passed, Congress promised to provide states with 40 percent of the funding needed for educating children with disabilities, however the federal government’s contribution has not exceeded its current contribution of 16 percent. This leaves the state and local school districts with making up the additional costs needed to provide the services needed by our students with disabilities.

NSBA urges the federal government to modernize and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We have launched an initiative to highlight this critical need and help ensure our country’s students with disabilities receive the access and supports they need to succeed. This initiative highlights the critical need for the federal government to fulfill a long overdue promise to provide equal access to public education for all children in the United States.

As we lead this grassroots effort to reauthorize IDEA, we are guided by these five principles:

  • High Expectations and Accountability, Not Bureaucratic Procedures, Deliver Positive Outcomes for Students with Disabilities.
  • Effectively Serving Students with Disabilities and their Families is a Shared Financial Responsibility.
  • Positive Engagement and Collaboration with Families Helps Students with Disabilities.
  • The Success of Students with Disabilities Depends on Access to Effective Teachers and other Special Education Professionals.
  • Expanded Supports Directed at the Youngest Students with Disabilities Will Place More Learners on an Earlier Path Toward Academic Life and Success.

Imagine If from National School Boards Assoc. on Vimeo.

More Information

IDEA Case Studies.

IDEA Talking Points.

IDEA Fact Sheet on the number of students served by IDEA.

IDEA Fact Sheet on students with disabilities in career and technical education.

IDEA Fact Sheet on where students receive disability services.

Federal legislative priority page on special education and IDEA.