A June 24 release from the US Department of Education describes a change in how it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.
Until now, the Department’s primary focus was to determine whether states were meeting procedural requirements such as timelines for evaluations, due process hearings and transitioning children into preschool services. While these compliance indicators remain important to children and families, under the new framework known as Results-Driven Accountability (RDA), the Department will also include educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities in making each state’s annual determination under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Department has worked extensively with states to ensure meaningful access to special education and related services for students with disabilities and has noted significant improvements in compliance over the last several years. However, educational outcomes in reading and math, as well as graduation rates, for students with disabilities continue to lag. With this year’s IDEA determinations, the Department used multiple outcome measures that include students with disabilities’ participation in state assessments, proficiency gaps between students with disabilities and all students, as well as performance in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to produce a more comprehensive and thorough picture of the performance of children with disabilities in each state.
Graphic: Percentage of Initial Evaluations of Students With Disabilities Completed Within Required Timelines Nationally: FY 2006-10 [JPG, 20KB]
Graphic: National Average Math Proficiency for Students With Disabilities: FY 2005-10 [JPG, 16KB]
This change in accountability represents a significant and long-overdue raising of the bar for special education. Last year, when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.
IDEA requires the Department to make annual decisions for states in four categories: meet requirements, need assistance, need intervention, or need substantial intervention. Under Results-Driven Accountability, the Department has made the following determinations for this year based on 2012-13 data.
Meets RequirementsFlorida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, PalauMore on California here. EdSource reports:
Needs AssistanceAlabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas, Guam, Puerto Rico
Needs Intervention California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Texas, Bureau of Indian Education, Virgin Islands
California was cited for federal intervention based on factors that included the proficiency gap between children with disabilities and all children on statewide assessments and the poor performance of children with disabilities on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, the Education Department said in a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
In a statement, the California Department of Education said, “Like other states, we are concerned that the categorization is more the result of the particular methodology used than of the actual performance of the state’s school districts.” The department added that it will be working with the U.S. Department of Education to resolve issues.
The Education Department also said the California Health and Human Services Agency’s Department of Developmental Services will receive four years of federal intervention to improve the early identification of infants and toddlers with disabilities and enhance programs to assist young children in meeting developmental goals.
Through the Statewide Special Education Task Force, California is already undergoing a review of how to transform special education in the state, including possible changes in credentialing requirements for general education and special education teachers.