State and Local Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

2017-2024
Prepared for
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Evaluation

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees all children with disabilities a free appropriate public education and authorizes funding to help school districts meet their diverse learning needs. However, the last study of the program was conducted in 2009, and much in the education landscape has changed in the intervening years. 

Mathematica is planning, collecting, and analyzing survey data from states, school districts, and schools to evaluate the implementation of academic instruction, intervention, and supports for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and other children who are eligible for services under the IDEA. The study's five research questions include:

  1. How do state and local agencies identify infants, toddlers, children, and youth for early intervention and special education services? How do they prevent or address inappropriate identification for these services?
  2. What policies and programs do states and local agencies have in place to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth identified for early intervention or special education services? How have these policies and programs changed over time?
  3. What types of supports do schools provide to children and youth with disabilities to support their academic and behavioral learning, both within and outside of regular education classrooms, and how do these supports vary by school characteristics?
  4. To what extent do states and local agencies rely on evidence from research on the effectiveness of policies, programs, and supports for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities?
  5. How do state and local agencies allocate resources—including funding and personnel— to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities?

We are conducting surveys of staff in state lead agencies, school districts, and schools. We anticipate a sample of 62 state lead agencies (50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories), 688 school districts, and 2,750 schools.