Music & Students with Special Needs (Special Learners in Music) Special Learners in Music
Bartlett - Established 1884 in New York City

Legislation & Litigation


  • Almost 13% of total school population is classified as students with special needs.
  • Around 92% of all students classified as students with special needs are in the general classroom.

Department of Education Issues Topical Briefs on the new IDEA Law

The Department of Education has issued a series of topical briefs on the new IDEA law. This series of briefs provides a summary of 16 significant IDEA topics. These briefs are only summaries of the law and do not contain any interpretation of the law by the Department.


Recent legislation regarding students with special needs.

  • Amendments to IDEA - (1997) - with the final report being published in March of 1999.
    • Students with ADHD were added under other health impairments.
    • Specific provisions were introduced to address the subject of discipline with students with special needs.
    • General education teachers are a part of the IEP evaluation team.
    • Disabilities included in IDEA ’97 revised are -The term ‘child with a disability’ means a child:
    1. Mental Retardation
    2. Hearing Impairments (including deafness)
    3. Speech or Language Impairments
    4. Visual Impairments (including blindness)
    5. Serious Emotional Disturbance (hereinafter referred to as emotional disturbance)
    6. Orthopedic Impairments
    7. Autism
    8. Traumatic Brain Injury
    9. Other Health Impairments
    10. Specific Learning Disabilities
    11. The term ‘child with a disability’ for a child aged 3 through 9 may, at the discretion of the State and the local educational agency, include a child--experiencing developmental delays, as defined by the State and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development; and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related service

IDE(I)A (signed into law in December 2004)

  • Pertinent changes for music teachers
    • achievement/ability discrepancy removed from diagnostic criteria for learning disabilities
    • less paperwork required for IEP creation and implementation.
  • Final report of IDE(I)A, August 2006
    • Tourette Syndrome added to the category of "other health impairments".


The IDEA 2004 regulations specify changes to IEPs that make them more relevant to student progress and reduce paperwork: The following information is based on a report published by the Council for Exceptional Children in January, 2007.

IEP Goals, Performance Levels, Progress Reports, and Assessments

  • IEPs must include a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.
  • Measurable goals statements must include academic and functional goals. (The 1997 regulations included benchmarks and short-term objectives.)
  • States can continue to use benchmarks and short-term objectives for all students, but they must inform their districts and the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Benchmarks and short-term objectives are required for children who take alternate assessments.
  • IEPs must tell how the child’s progress will be measured and when periodic reports on the child’s progress will be provided. (The 1997 regulations said reports on the progress of children with disabilities must offered as often as parents were informed of the progress of non-disabled students.)
  • If the IEP team decides the child will take an alternate assessment, it must include in the IEP a statement of why the child cannot participate in general education assessments and why the alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child.
  • An initial evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receiving parental consent for evaluation or within the timeframe the state established (if the state established this timeframe).


  • Transition services must be included in the IEP when a child is 16 or younger. (Previously, the mandatory age was 14.)
  • When the IEP team meets to discuss the child’s post-secondary goals and transition services, the child must be invited to the meeting. If he or she does not attend, the child’s interests must be considered.
  • Measurable post-secondary goals must be developed for each student based on age appropriate transition assessments related to his or her training, education, employment, and independent living skills.

IEP Meetings

  • All team members are not required to attend an IEP team meeting if:
    1. The area discussed isn’t being modified.
    2. The parents and school agree in writing.
    3. Written information is shared before the meeting.
  • If the child’s parents and school agree, changes can be made to an IEP without convening an IEP meeting.
  • If changes are made to a child’s IEP without a meeting, the IEP team must be informed of the changes.

Student Transfers

  • When students transfer to another public school, whether in-state or out-of-state, schools must share the IEP to ensure it is implemented and the child receives FAPE.
  • The schools must provide comparable services.
  • The student’s new school must have the opportunity to develop a new IEP.

Section 504 Plans

    • Will list physical, instructional, and behavioral adaptations for the student.
    • As with the IEP, it is important to receive a copy of adaptations and accommodations for students with Section 504 plans.
    • A 504 can be used for a student who meets the three-pronged definition of a disability:
      1. Physical or mental impairment
      2. Substantially limiting
      3. Major life activity

General Curriculum refers to: The curriculum that is used with non-disabled children.

  • The IEP team determines the accommodations, modifications, supports, and supplementary aids and services needed by the child in these important activities.
    1. Present levels of educational performance
    2. Special education and related services and supplementary aids and services.
    3. Extent to which child will participate with non-disabled children.

Primer of Special Education Law

Copyright 2005 Project Seven Development