IDEAs That Provide a Solution When the Courts Have Disabled the System 53
include post-school objectives and procedures for finding employment and living. 45 In
accommodating these services, the IEP names specific individuals to help with the transition to
adulthood and also connects the child with the state agencies and community services available to
the child as an adult. 46 The 1990 amendments also renamed the EHA, changing it to the Individuals
with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). 47
The IDEA was reauthorized in 2004 as the Individuals with Disabilities in Education
Improvement Act (IDEIA). 48 This reauthorization was meant to align the goals of the IDEA with
the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). 49 The goal of NCLB was to measure student
achievement through standardized assessments. 50 Through NCLB, Congress mandated that
schools set educational goals for students based on testing results. 51 If students did not annually
improve on standardized tests, the state lost federal funding for education. 52 In order to align the
goals of the IDEA and NCLB, Congress required that children with disabilities be included in the
statewide NCLB assessments, and that performance goals be altered under the IDEA to mimic the
goals under NCLB for all students be implemented.53 Because of this goal alignment, schools
across the nation feared losing federal funds if they did not meet the new standards. 54 The schools’
response was to “dumb down” their performance goals so they would appear to be making
progress. 55 This decrease in the performance goals ran counter to the IDEA’s objective of having
high expectations for children with disabilities. 56 Additionally, the move to standardized testing
ran counter to the goal of an IEP being an individualized program catered to the students’ unique
Thirteen years later, Congress dealt a swift blow to NCLB when it passed the Every Student
Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the fifty-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education
Act (ESEA). 58 The ESSA represents a move away from heavily regulated federal education policy
towards a more flexible, federally funded, but state controlled, education initiatives. 59 Schools still
have to report to the federal government through accountability plans, 60 but the ESSA allows states
more flexibility in how they implement their accountability systems, and moves away from the
federal mandate of tying teacher evaluations to test scores. 61 Waivers of compliance with the
47 Id. at 6 (citing EHA Amendments of 1983, 98 Pub. L. 199, 97 Stat. 1357 (1983); EHA Amendments of 1990, 101
Pub. L. 476, 104 Stat. 1103 (1990); IDEA Improvement Act of 1997, 105 Pub. L. 17, 111 Stat. 37 (1997).
48 See generally Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 108 Pub. L. 446, 118 Stat. 2647
(2004) (from here on, the author will refer to the Act that currently governs special education as the IDEA instead of
49 Marlett, supra note 15, at 65.
50 Id. at 63.
53 Id. at 65.
54 Id. at 63.
55 Marlett, supra note 15, at 63.
56 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c)( 5)(A) (2012).
57 Marlett, supra note 15, at 64.
58 U.S. DEPT. OF EDUC., Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), https://www.ed.gov/essa (last visited Mar. 1, 2017).
59 Alyson Klein, The Every Student Succeeds Act: An ESSA Overview, EDUC. WEEK, (Mar. 31, 2016),