Tallahassee, Florida –
For 35 years, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has improved educational opportunities for students with disabilities nationwide. Today, Florida’s Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Frances Haithcock joined Debra Dowds of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council to honor the landmark legislation during a ceremony that featured a heartwarming ensemble performance by students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
“This piece of legislation has profoundly changed the way we view education for students with disabilities across our nation,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Students and their families continue to reap the benefits of these changes, and I am thankful for their contributions to the education landscape in Florida.”
Under the support offered through IDEA, Florida’s students with disabilities have significantly increased their academic performance over the last decade as demonstrated by both national and state assessments. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics exams, Florida’s fourth and eighth grade students with disabilities have surpassed the nation in nearly every category. Their performance on state assessments also mirrors national results with the percentage of students in grades three through 10 who are reading and performing mathematics on grade level climbing 14 and 19 percentage points, respectively, since 2001.
In commemoration of the IDEA Anniversary, Commissioner Smith will share a public service announcement on the Florida Knowledge Network, the instructional television broadcast service of the Florida Department of Education.
In Florida, more than 370,000 students are identified as having a disability that requires specially designed education and related services, which is the equivalent of 14 percent of the Sunshine State’s total student population. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has increased access to curriculum, provided services to young children, offered transition planning and included accountability measures for the achievement of students with disabilities.