Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education

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Alert! Alert! 
Because NICHCY’s website will only remain online until September 30, 2014, most of its rich content has moved to a new home, the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), where it can be kept up to date.

The new address of Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education at the CPIR is:


Updated December 2012

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education regularly provides guidance to the field on the nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). “Guidance” can take several forms:

  • OSEP’s correspondence in response to questions received from the field;
  • policy documents and letters on priority issues; and
  • non-regulatory guidance.

All are intended to clarify elements of the law and its regulations. Often, OSEP responds directly to questions from  state and local special education directors. These letters are an important part of understanding IDEA and how to implement it.

We are pleased to connect you with OSEP/DOE’s guidance and offer two kinds of information:

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Where OSEP/DOE Posts Its Guidance on IDEA

OSEP’s Legislation and Policy Guidance

OSEP Policy Correspondence

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OSEP/DOE Guidance on Specific Topics in IDEA

Looking for a particular guidance document on IDEA? We identify the more recent guidance below, as well as letters and memos on high-priority topics.  In alphabetical order, by topic:

2006 Determination Letters of State Implementation of IDEA
Determination letters for FY 2006, July 2008

Access to Physical Education and Extracurricular Activities
Policy guidance under Executive Order #13422, August 2011

Discipline Procedures
An informal Q&A, January 2007

An informal Q&A on how states and LEAs can take steps to address disproportionate representation of racial/ethnic groups in special education, June 2009

Early Intervening Services
Memorandum to the Chief State School Officers and the State Directors of Special Education, July 28, 2008

Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) Serving Children with Disabilities
An informal Q&A, January 2007

Homeless Children with Disabilities
Policy Guidance under Executive Order #13422, February 2008

IDEA Part B Supplemental Regulations
Non-regulatory guidance, December 2008

An informal Q&A, June 2010

IEPs, Evaluations, and Reevaluations
An informal Q&A, updated June 2010

Modified Academic Achievement Standards
Non-regulatory guidance, July 2007

Monitoring, Technical Assistance, and Enforcement
An informal Q&A, January 2007

NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards)
An informal Q&A, revised August 2010

Procedural Safeguards and Due Process Procedures for Parents and Children with Disabilities
An informal Q&A, January 2007

Procedural Safeguards: Model Form
Updated July 2009

Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During an H1N1 Outbreak
Policy guidance, December 2009

RTI and Early Intervening Services (EIS)
An informal Q&A, January 2007

Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents at Private Schools
An informal Q&A, January 2007

An informal Q&A on IDEA’s requirements for serving children with disabilities eligible for transportation, November 2009.

Waiving Maintenance of Effort
This guidance is called “Process and Criteria Used to Evaluate a Request by States to Waive Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirements under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” Issued in June 2010.

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to