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The Role of Special Education

Special education provides students with disabilities specially designed instruction to meet their unique learning needs. IDEA ensures that children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education and that schools provide special education to these children in the least restrictive environment, including the general education classrooms whenever appropriate. Special education services and supports are provided to eligible students from the age of 3 through high school graduation.

Evaluation and Eligibility

AEAs, local districts, and families collaborate to complete comprehensive evaluations that examine whether a learner needs specially designed instruction due to an educational disability. Evaluations are completed to determine initial and continued eligibility for special education.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document developed for each eligible learner with a disability that describes the learner’s special education program, including services and supports based on needs as a result of the disability. Local districts and AEAs must ensure that an IEP team develops, reviews, and revises a learner’s IEP at least annually.

Special Education Procedural Safeguards

Under IDEA, the parents of children with disabilities have certain rights, known as procedural safeguards, which apply to every aspect of the special education process and ensure each eligible individual receives a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).

Learn About Iowa Special Education

In Iowa, under the supervision of the Iowa Department of Education, the AEAs and local districts ensure quality, individualized special education services and supports are provided to all children with disabilities at no cost to the family. AEA and local district staff collaborate to complete comprehensive evaluations and implement well-developed IEPs with the goal of improved educational outcomes for all learners.