For the first time in IDEA’s nearly 40-year history, the U.S. Department of Education has included the performance of students with disabilities on state and NAEP assessments as part of determining how states are implementing IDEA.
And the results are humbling.
35 states and the District of Columbia were found to “need assistance” or “need intervention” after outcome data was combined with compliance measures that demonstrate adherence to the law.
To be clear, the overwhelming majority of states “meet requirements” when just looking at compliance with IDEA, in fact only 9 were deemed as “needs assistance”.
But when student outcomes were included, a different picture took shape.
Previously, states were evaluated by their adherence to a compliance driven system, which drove a culture many educators claimed was focused on crossing “T’s” and dotting “I’s” – rather than a focus on student outcomes. Compliance has included such items as timely evaluations and rates of suspensions/expulsions for students with disabilities.
CEC supports a movement to including both compliance measures and outcomes as a means for taking a closer look at how students with disabilities are faring. This combined approach is a marked improvement over strictly looking at compliance measures only. In looking ahead, it is important to use this data wisely, recognizing the overall story it conveys. That’s why CEC has been advocating for:
- Better preparation of all special and general educators to address the needs of students with disabilities;
- Building capacity of schools to deliver high-quality instruction that addresses student needs through professional development and evidence-based strategies;
- Targeted technical assistance – not punitive measures – to address systemic challenges; and
- More funding and resources to support all education programs. Join us in urging Congress to increase funding for special education programs by visiting CEC’s Legislative Action Center.
Interested in learning how your state fared? Check out the Department’s state-by-state information here.