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Highlights of the Reauthorization of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (March 12, 1999)

Adapted Physical Education was retained as a DIRECT Educational Service. The Individual Education Program for each child with a disability must include:

  • A statement of the child's present levels of educational performance including how the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general curriculum;

  • A statement of measurable annual goals related to meeting the child's needs that result from the child's disability to enable the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum;

  • A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services;

  • A statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals, be involved and progress in the general curriculum, and participate in extra curricular and other nonacademic activities and to be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and non-disabled children

Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were added to the list of conditions in "other health impaired".

Significant changes were made to regulations with regard to state-wide assessments. States and Local Education Agencies must:

  • Provide for the participation of children with disabilities in general state and district-wide assessments - with appropriate accommodations and modifications in administration, if necessary

  • Provide for the conduct of alternate assessments not later than July 1, 2000 for children who cannot participate in the general assessment programs; and

  • Make available, and report, to the public on the assessment results of disabled children, with the same frequency and in the same detail as reported on the assessment results of non-disabled children.

Each of the child's teachers, including the regular education teacher(s) and provider(s) must be informed of his or her responsibilities related to implementing the child's IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the child.

Project INSPIRE note: This includes the Physical Education teacher.

Major changes were made to discipline procedures. Project INSPIRE recommends the Council for Exceptional Children web site on Public Policy and Legislation.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally Public Law 94-142, is designed to ensure the following rights for students with disabilities:

  • Right to a free, appropriate education

  • Right to nondiscriminatory testing, evaluation and placement procedures

  • Right to be educated in the least restrictive environment

  • Right to procedural due process of law

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the primary federal legislation which has an impact on Adapted Physical Education. The primary mandates will be outlined below.

Special Education

The term 'special education' means specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including:

  • Instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and

  • Instruction in physical education. (20 U.S.C.A. 1402(25))

Physical Education

The term means the development of:

  • Physical and motor fitness;

  • Fundamental motor skills and patterns; and

  • Skills in aquatics, dance, and individual and group games and sports (including intramural and lifetime sports).

The term includes special physical education, adaptive physical education, movement education, and motor development. 34.C.F.R. 300.24(b)

The Individual Education Plan (IEP)

The IEP must include each of the following components:

  • A statement of the child's present levels of educational performance including:

    • How the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general curriculum, or

    • For preschool children, as appropriate, how the disability affects the child's participation in appropriate activities. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(i).

  • Measurable annual goals. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(ii)

  • Short-term instructional objectives or “benchmarks” related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum and meeting each of the child's other needs that result from the child's disability. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(ii)(I-II)

  • Statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(iii)

  • Program modifications or supports that will be provided for the child to advance toward the annual goals and to be involved and progress in the general curriculum, to participate in extracurricular activities, and to be educated and participate with other children with and without disabilities.  20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(iii)(I-III).

  • An explanation of the extent to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and extracurricular activities. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(iv). Congress specifically presumes that children with disabilities are to be educated in regular classes.

  • Projected date for the beginning of services and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of services and modifications. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(vi)

  • A statement of how progress toward the annual goals will be measured. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(viii)(I)

  • A statement of how the parents will be regularly informed (by such means as a periodic report card), at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children's progress, of the child's progress toward the annual goals and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the year. 20 USCA 1414(d)(1)(A)(viii)(II)

  • Consideration of assistive technology devices and services. 20 USCA 1414(d)(3)(B)(v)

Physical Education and the IEP

Physical Education must be addressed on the child's IEP. Most certainly, the IEP Committee (Multidisciplinary-Team Committee or Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee) is responsible for determining if the student needs to be evaluated for Adapted Physical Education services.

Unfortunately, all too often, particularly in the state of Texas, a unilateral decision is made by someone without a broad based understanding of physical education or the federal mandates re: Adapted Physical Education (case manager or educational diagnostician) and the IEP reflects only that the child's educational needs are being met in the regular physical education program.

If the child is evaluated and it is recommended that the child receive Adapted Physical Education services, then physical education must be addressed within each of the required components of the IEP. In some states, an Individual Physical Education Plan is developed. In some states, the physical education objectives are built into the body of the IEP document.

Individualized Education Program Team

IDEA mandates that a multidisciplinary committee of individuals with knowledge of and interest in the student with a disability work together to develop the Individual Education Plan.

The term 'individualized education program team' or 'IEP Team' means a group of individuals composed of:

  • The parents of a child with a disability

  • At least one regular education teacher of such child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment ) Note: This may be the Physical Education teacher.

  • At least one special education teacher, or where appropriate, at least one special education provider of such child

  • A representative of the local educational agency who

    • is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;

    • is knowledgeable about the general curriculum;

    • is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the LEA

  • An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results

  • At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate

  • Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability

The project INSPIRE staff suggest you visit WrightsLaw web pages on Reauthorization of IDEA for more information regarding IDEA.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Its Impact on Adapted Physical Education

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 essentially declared that individuals with disabilities cannot be excluded from any program or activity receiving federal funds, based solely on the disability. In physical education, intramurals, extracurricular or interscholastic athletics, a reasonable accommodation must be made to include a student with disabilities who wishes to participate.


Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990, and Its Impact on Adapted Physical Education

The Americans with Disabilities Education Act prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunication relay services. ADA broadened the scope of Section 504 and mandated non-discrimination in the private sector, as well.

The primary impact of this legislation on Adapted Physical Education is its implications re: access to leisure and travel services, recreation and sport facilities like bowling alleys, golf courses, curling centers, downhill and cross country skiing centers, and boat and canoe rentals, for example.


Some Commonly Asked Questions about the Law and Adapted Physical Education

Can physical or occupational therapy substitute for physical education?

NO. Physical and occupational therapy are related services which are necessary to enable the student to benefit from special education or regular instruction. However, physical education is an instructional service that must be provided to all students receiving special education, if the child has an educational need. This service may include physical education in regular classes, with or without modifications; special physical education; adapted physical education; movement education; and motor development. A related service may not be a substitute for physical education. [34 C.F.R. 300.14]

Are all special education students required to receive physical education instruction?

YES. Physical education services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every handicapped (sic) child receiving a free appropriate public education.  The regulations continue to state:

Regular physical education. Each handicapped (sic) child must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the regular physical education program available to non-handicapped children unless:

  • the child is enrolled full-time in a separate facility; or

  • the child needs specially designed physical education, as prescribed in the child's individualized education program

Special physical education. If specially designed physical education is prescribed in a child's individualized education program, the public agency responsible for the education of that child shall provide the services directly, or make arrangements for it to be provided through other public or private programs.

Education in separate facilities. The public agency responsible for the education of a handicapped (sic) child who is enrolled in a separate facility shall ensure that the child receives appropriate physical education services.” [34.C.F.R. 300.3071]

How often must a special education student receive physical education instruction?

That decision is made by the IEP Committee. The amount of time must be stipulated on the IEP and it should be commensurate with the amount of time that a student without a disability has the opportunity to participate in physical education.

page last updated 10/9/2014 6:14 PM