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The 1980s: Continued Slow Progress, the Regular Education Initiative

The promise of the "least restrictive environment" was great. Progress, however, was not. The system was not adjusting to the new requirements. The placement of students in less and more restrictive environments changed little.

On the issue of the system adjusting to new requirements, The United States General Accounting Office challenged the system to make substantive changes if the requirements of P. L. 94-142 were to be met within a decade of its passing.

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 requires States to make free appropriate public education available for all children age 3 to 18 by September 1, 1978.

If this goal is to be met by at least the mid-1980s, the Department of Education and the Congress need to resolve problems with

  • determining the number of children needing services,
  • unclear eligibility criteria,
  • individualized education programs,
  • sufficiency of resources, and
  • program management and enforcement.
Teacher and students in a classroom
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden