Secretary Duncan to Address Symposium on 40th Anniversary of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will address a symposium recognizing the 40th anniversary of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a landmark civil rights law, which today provides the right to a free appropriate public education to over 6 million children and youth with disabilities. The event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the U.S. Department of Education's auditorium.

Also speaking at the symposium are Michael Yudin, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, along with Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs. A panel of nationally recognized experts in special education will discuss effective practices for helping youth with disabilities in literacy, math, school climate, social behavior, early childhood, inclusion, teacher training, post-school transition and more.

President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act on Nov. 29, 1975. At the time, an estimated one million children had no access to public education. Four decades later, most students with disabilities are educated alongside nondisabled students in regular classrooms with the supports and services they need to make progress.

To improve the educational outcomes of children and youth with disabilities, the Department is changing the way it holds states accountable for the education of students with disabilities—moving away from a focus on whether states are simply meeting the procedural requirements of IDEA. While these procedural requirements remain important, under the new framework known as Results-Driven Accountability, the Department also includes educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities in making each state's annual determination under IDEA.