With changes to other federal regulations, the U.S. Department of Education needed to do some updating of its own rules.
That came Friday morning, when the department issued final regulations under Part B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The new regulations, which Barley Snyder attorneys have been tracking, include technical changes necessary to conform the IDEA regulations to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA was signed into law in December of 2015. In addition to reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Act (EASA), it changed section 602, as well as sections 611 through 614, of the IDEA.
The new regulations are effective immediately. They include a number of changes to relevant provisions of the prior regulations that apply to students with disabilities. The regulations also include a number of new and/or revised definitions.
Key changes include the following:
• Removal of “core academic subjects” in §300.10, “highly qualified special education teachers” in §300.18, and “scientifically based research” in 34 CFR §§300.35 and 303.32.
• Inclusion of qualification requirements for special education teachers, including the requirements regarding alternate routes to special education teacher certification in 34 CFR §300.156(c)(1) and (2).
• Adoption of the definition of “regular high school diploma” in section 8101(43) of the ESSA, which excludes diplomas based on alternate academic achievement standards.
• Revisions to the alternate assessment requirements in 34 CFR §300.160(c). The changes clarify that if a State has adopted alternate academic achievement standards as permitted under section 1111(b)(1)(E) of the ESEA, the State must develop guidelines and conduct alternate assessments that measure the achievement of children with the most significant cognitive disabilities against those standards.
• Requirements for communication regarding the difference in assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned with alternate achievement standards, the impact on issuance of a regular high school diploma, and applicable reporting requirements.
A chart outlining all of the ESSA/IDEA technical changes is available here.