Nineteen states earned a "meets requirement" rating from the U.S. Department of Education's office of special education programs for the 2013-14 school year, according the department's latest report, which reflects the second year of a new, tougher evaluation system.
That was up from 15 states that earned that rating from the U.S. Department of Education last year, the first year the department evaluated states under a new "results-driven accountability" matrix. The states were evaluated last year on 2012-13 data. The system was designed to measure states on special education student performance as well as compliance issues, such as whether states meet various deadlines mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
States have also been asked to create a "state-identified measurable result," which is intended to be the foundation of a multiyear, comprehensive plan to improve student performance in special education. For example, a state could choose to focus on a goal to improve student literacy, and develop a multilayered plan of how to accomplish that goal.
In addition to meets requirements, states can be rated in three additional categories—needs assistance, needs intervention, and needs substantial intervention. No state has fallen into the lowest category, though the District of Columbia has been in the needs intervention category for nine consecutive years. Each level triggers a different action from the office of special education programs, from referring states to technical assistance to requiring states to use some of their federal special education money to address the areas of deficiency.
This year, 30 states were found to need assistance in the report provided to states June 30, which is down from 32 in the report issued last year. In addition to the District of Columbia, Texas was found to need intervention, for the second year in a row.