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This is the personalization of education and other social services to individuals to children and school going children. The services of education should be individualized as perceived in the act. Through this individualized education service, educational standards of children with disabilities will be improved as all members of the society ranging from teachers parents to school administrators will be forced to work together. All the above should work close to each other taking a keen interest at the specific needs of these special children. Due to their diversified knowledge and experience, together with their commitment quality education for these disabled children will be realized (CEC, 1999).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendment of 1997 (IDEA 97)
This is and amendment that was made to in relation to the law regarding education of children with disabilities. The law had given disabled children some rights. With the IDEA 97 amendments, significant progress as far as provision of education to disabled children is concerned has been realized. According to Eric clearing house (2001), the law the IDEA 97amendment act provided the required rules and procedures for the implementation of the disabled children education program. The IDEA 97 shows the commitment on the part of the government in providing quality education to disabled children. Through it, parents, teachers and the school administration must co-operate to provide the required individualized education (Eric clearing house, 2001). The new law reaffirms the previous law's principles like;
The IDEA 97's final regulations were published in 1999. This research paper reviews the literature regarding the implementation of the IDEA 97 act. The reader gets to know the eligibility criteria for disabled individuals, the components of the program and the goals of the program.
Initiating the special education program
There have been challenges in achieving the goals of providing individual education. The states have lacked institutions that can provide everything required by the disabled children. Also, they lack knowledge of the background cultural aspects of the children hence complicating the whole issue.
The beginning of the individualized education program for disabled children is initiated by the identification of the needy or minority children. The identification of the needy could be easy but reaching out for these children to get specialized and individualized care has never been easy. The state is always faced with the many challenges like the geographical location in which then disabled lives, the professional background of the parents (military parents believe that if their child is identified as disabled their career ambitions could be jeopardized), ethic diversity etc. identifying the needy could take the form of screening the children and tracking out the many cultural practices. This will tell the eligible children basing on the eligibility criteria. From this, we can know which children benefit from the individualized education program and who is not. The timings involved could also be known (Eric clearinghouse, 2001).
The IDEA act gives the following definition of a disabled child; "a child with mental impairments, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, specific leaning disabilities, deaf-blindness or multiple disabilitiesâ€¦" According to CEC (1999), a disabled child from ages 3-9 years is a child with developmental delays defined by the state and appropriately measured by using procedures and instruments that are diagnostic.
Basing on the above, the eligibility criterion involves the administration of eligibility tests on every child. The eligibility tests must be administered to the children by qualified professionals in various fields. The act also provides that the child should be determined to be disabled and that the educational performance of the child is adversely affected by the disability to warrant special education. There should be child tracking which should monitor the progress of development for the disabled child and possible intervention services that are needed. Proper care should always s be taken so as not to under identify or over identify the disabled children. This is because under identification could result in late presentation of the child for intervention measures (Eric clearing house, 2001).
There is a provision for a developmental delay in the act. This time lag is needed to cater for the provision of individual special education to young and small preschool children in their early grades. Thus the children don't have to undergo the diagnostic eligibility tests.
Engaging in the IEP
According to Defur & Sharon (2003), IDEA sec 300.29 provides the following activities for disabled children. A well designed education program for the disabled children should be:
The program should be oriented to an all inclusive outcome process caters for all transitions from high school, university to the child participating in the society as an adult.
The individual education program should take into consideration the individual needs of the disabled child (Defur & Sharon 2003).
It should involve the programs that help the child to develop the skills that are vital for his daily future community life. This could include vocational training for the child. Thus the program should contain all transition activities needed.
The program should be in a position to assess the needs of the disabled child, his interests and the future career and adult living preferences (Defur & Sharon 2003).
The program should be able to identify, explore and try out the various placements during the transition that match with the student's qualifications and future goals.
The program should leave room for other organizations that provide adult services and help the family identify resources and support. In addition to this, the individual education program should cater for follow up for the children undergoing individual program (Defur & Sharon 2003).
Those to participate in the IEP program include the student, the parent, the referrals or special education teachers, teacher (regular) a representative of the local education. Among these, the student is the most important because everything rotates around him. Regarding the students IEP meeting after age 14, he / she must be invited. Where students fail to attend sessions, the IDEA provides that schools should tae over and ensure that the student's long term life objectives and the transitions are met (Defur & Sharon 2003).
An IEP program that involves transitional placements usually involves parents because they are used as advisors concerning the children's future. Based on the parent's knowledge of their children and the cultural context of the child, the IEP program designs an approach that is caters for culture and the family background. Thus the parents are given a guidance role in the adult development of their disabled children.
Components of individual education program (IEP)
In any IEP program that is to be implemented, it must contain some very important components. The following are the major components of this program:
The current academic levels of performance for the child.
Annual learning and behavioral goals that are measurable. These should be comprised of both the academic and the functional goals.
Placement: this should be shown indicating transitional programs, the elective and core classes' placements, internships, community resources.
The environment that least restricts the disabled child.
An explanation in for each placement location in written. It should include the rational, information on the skills possessed by the disabled child, and the behaviors that are in line with the least restrictive environment.
Progress: this is how the child is doing in relation to achieving the set goals. Each progress of the child should be reported to the parents by the teacher.
The child should be provided with any special education, supplementary and other related services that he needs.
Schedules of the whole program and services should be provided by the teacher. This will include the commencing time, frequency, period and the venue of the services (services dates for IEP).
Any required modifications to the program should also be provided.
A provision of the explanation of any time that the child will not be attending to the sessions.
The necessary accommodation should be provided during the national or district level assessments where the child's performance is measured.
Since the participation of the parent is necessary, invitations in written should be send to them. Where parents are not in a position to attend, phone conference should be conducted including the IEP information (Barbara, (2009).
Levels of IEP Performance
The IEP performance is measured using the following levels:
Not evident: students at this level of learning depict that there is no literacy or mathematical skills taught.
Emergent: student sin this level show some necessary literacy and mathematical skills that need to be supported to enter the next level of learning.
Supported independence: this is a level in which students attempt with limited success, try to meet the challenges that come with the appropriate age and authenticity. Students depict minimum capability to apply the literacy and the mathematical skills learned. Students in this level require being prompted and supported. Although they make errors, the end up doing them accurately.
Functional independence: in this level, students meet age and authentic challenges. They are I a position to apply the established mathematical rules and the literacy learned in the real life situations with minimum supervision. There is accuracy in the performance of these skills though occasional errors occur.
Independent level: students in this level of performance show mastery of the mathematical and authentic skill that they have acquired through out. They also apply age appropriate skill and perform challenging tasks in many multiple settings. On their own, they are in a position to apply the learned knowledge in the real life situations. Through the generalization of learned skills they can solve emerging challenges in life.
Implementation of IEP
The implementation of the individuals with disability program usually depends on the timetable and the designated duties on the parties. As soon as the IEP meeting is held, the student's sessions of IEP commences. Undue delay is not recommended. The parties responsible fro the implementations of the IEP are mainly the teachers, referral and the support staff if need be. All the parties are responsible for the effective running of the IEP. Poor performance of the child can warrant an additional IEP meeting (CEC, 1999).