APA Pushes for Revised Language in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

During December and January visits to the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families, Science Directorate and Public Policy Office (PPO) staff voiced concern with assessment language in the second draft of IDEA [see section 614(b)(3)]. IDEA authorizes several programs to support and improve early interventions and special education for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.

The latest version of IDEA, which was released by the House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities in late October, requires that only standardized tests be validated and properly administered by trained professionals. In addition to meeting with Subcommittee staff, APA coordinated a joint letter, which was submitted to Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-CA), Chair of the House Subcommittee, on behalf of APA, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), to urge a revision of the bill that would stress the importance of validity for all tests. APA, AERA, and NCME are the codevelopers of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

The first discussion draft from the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, the counterpart to the House Subcommittee, was released on November 20, 1995, and is the only version expected to be released by the Senate. The Senate draft contains language on assessment similar to that of the second House version. Congress is expected to revisit IDEA in conference in late February, and the bill may reach the floor in early March.

Science Directorate and PPO staff will continue to monitor IDEA assessment issues as Congress nears a vote.

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