Public education for all is a cornerstone of our democracy and is the mechanism by which this nation prepares all students to pursue the benefits of freedom and to exercise fully their rights and responsibilities. The U.S. Department of Education has played a critical role in ensuring access, equity, inclusion, and opportunity for all students — including students with disabilities — through their oversight, guidance, monitoring, and technical assistance. Research shows that students with significant disabilities can be fully included in classrooms with qualified staff, peer supports, and appropriate accommodations.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children with disabilities not only have the right to attend public schools, but receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), have access to the general education curriculum, and receive a meaningful education in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that prepares them for postsecondary education or a career. Similarly, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (formerly known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)), recognizes that our education system must ensure that all children have access to a high quality, standards-based education, and holds schools accountable for the progress of all students, including students with disabilities.