Special education is the system of programs, supports, and services provided to children and youth with disabilities at no cost to their families as they attend school. It is intended to ensure that these students are able to reach their potential by leveling the educational playing field for them. This entry describes the core elements of special education, the categories of disabilities that make student eligible to receive special education services, the procedures of special education, and the continuum of placements for students receiving special education.

Core Elements of Special Education

U.S. special education was formally established through federal law. Now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA; Pub. L. 108–446), it was originally passed in 1975 and called the Education for All ...

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