If you visit Our Children Left Behind ( http://www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com
), you can learn all about IDEA 2004, including the actual statutory
language as well as summaries and analyses by various groups. (There was some sort of computer glitch that is being fixed so if you don't see postings on
our Breaking News page from 2005, for instance, then just check back in a few days and hopefully all our postings will be restored.) Also, you should know
that the US Dept of Ed is currently working on regulations to implement the new law. Draft regs are out and you can attend a public meeting or submit written
comments. Again, Our Children Left Behind has info on how to do all this.
To answer your question - yes, short term objectives/benchmarks (STOs) have been eliminated for all but the few students who take alternative assessments
under NCLB (meaning those students identified as having severe cognitive impairments). Parent groups (including OCLB - which is a volunteer website run by 5
parent volunteers, myself among them) protested this vigorously but we lost on this issue. STOs were eliminated supposedly to decrease paperwork burden on
Also, there are two pilot programs that 15 states can participate in. One program allows for an optional 3-year IEP; the other allows for states to waive
certain paperwork required under IDEA (the parameters on this are fuzzy).
Besides that, parents or their attorneys can now be required to reimburse schools for their (the school's) attorney fees if the school wins and the
parent's case was found to be frivolous or brought to harass or delay. Also, stay put has been eliminated in discipline cases and the burden is now on the parent
to prove manifestation rather than on the school to prove no manifestation. And there is now a mandatory pre-due process meeting ("resolution session")
that parents must attend with the school prior to filing for due process (unless the parties both waive this or do mediation instead).
On the other hand, mediation and settlement agreements are now enforceable in court (a good thing), and there is more focus on research-validated methodologies. More
alignment with NCLB. Some view these types of changes as good. Also, instead of the "severe discrepancy" method of identifying kids with LD, schools can
choose a "response to intervention" (RTI) method. Again, some people feel this is good, others don't necessarily.
Mixed bag, but on the whole many parent groups feel this new IDEA is a step backwards for students with disabilities and their families. But again, until
we see how it all plays out, it's hard to say for sure. But I can tell you that we at Our Children Left Behind certainly fought long and hard against some
of the new provisions (but understand that alternate provisions being proposed were even WORSE for kids, so we were relieved that many of THOSE provisions
did not make it in to the final law).
The above is a very simplified explanation - again, please visit Our Children Left Behind for more detailed explanation. Hope this helps!
Sandy, Illinois (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Volunteer Co-Webmaster, www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com (IDEA reauthorization)