According to the US government website about IDEA , disability is "a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society". Our nation is committed to ensuring that children with disabilities have access to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) so they have the same opportunities as those without.
IDEA, or as it is now known, IDEIA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, is the federal law that protects the education of children with disabilities. There are also state laws that offer protection and "equal" opportunities, and those vary by state. IDEIA is designed to guide the decisions made at the state level.
In IDEIA's most recently amendment by Congress in 2015, it states that:
States are required to establish performance goals for students with disabilities that aligned with the goals of their peers without disabilities.
Schools are required to report the progress of students with disabilities on standardized testing, and the law included provisions for improving graduation rates and dropout rates.
From my experience, there are performance goals created and progress is reported. Great!
I appreciate that there are changes made at the federal level and there is a greater sense of accountability for progress.
Why is there still such a disparity in learning?
It is not the lack of laws, regulations, state statutes, and whatever other "legalese" we might encounter. You know what it is?
Lack of knowledge. Lack of training. Lack of proper staffing.
How can we possibly expect an undervalued, undertrained and understaffed educational system meet the needs of every child, especially those with disabilities?!
When we can give teachers what they need to be successful in the classroom, children will also be given the opportunity to be successful.
When teachers have the tools they need to make informed decisions about supports, accommodations, and modifications, children will then have the tools that they need.
And when we support teachers with knowledge, training and stable positive work environments, children will excel.
For more information on how to support children with disabilities with tools, resources, and strategies that increase engagement, accessibility, and flexible learning, check out Inclusiveology