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Media Contacts

Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Theresa Ochoa
School of Education

Suzanne Eckes
School of Education

Federal IDEA revisions

A perspective from Indiana University

Editors: On Nov. 19, Congress passed and sent to the White House the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Here is one perspective from Indiana University's School of Education on the potential impact of the revisions.

The revisions to IDEA are likely to have a severe and negative impact on students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). "The combination of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), IDEA and zero tolerance policies raises concerns for the education of EBD students," said Theresa Ochoa, assistant professor in the Indiana University School of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction. "While the lofty goals -- closing the learning gap among students by the year 2014 and decreasing school violence -- of the NCLB merit applause, its implementation in public schools is problematic." Ochoa and Suzanne Eckes, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, said students with emotional and behavioral disabilities have academic and social deficits that often lead to misbehavior. As it is, they often experience higher rates of grade retention and school dropout. Punitive measures included in NCLB for schools that do not meet appropriate yearly progress and widely adopted zero tolerance policies, coupled with the greater flexibility regarding discipline provided in the IDEA revisions, create a scenario in which schools could be tempted to "drop" academically weak students or students who present a liability to the school's ratings. Ochoa's research interests include behavior disorders. Eckes' research interests include affirmative action and desegregation. Ochoa can be reached at 812-856-8135 and Eckes can be reached at 812-856-8376 and