Feds Judge States on Special Ed Law

By: - June 20, 2007 12:00 am

Grading states on how well they’re educating children with physical and mental disabilities, the U.S. Education Department Wednesday (June 20) announced that nine states are on track, five are lacking, and the rest lie somewhere in between.

The evaluations , mailed to states June 18, are the first to judge compliance with the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act since Congress amended the law in 2004. The landmark law, originally enacted in 1975, established the nation’s first rules for educating disabled students.

Based on public information and data submitted by the states for the 2005-06 school year, the department reported that nine states met the requirements for children from age 3 to 21: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming.

Thirty-six states were in the “Needs Assistance” category, while five states – Colorado, Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Washington – were listed as needing intervention. No state fell into the fourth and worst category, “Needs Substantial Intervention.” Education Department officials said they avoided putting any states in that category because this is the first year states are being judged.

The department based its decision on 20 indicators, such as the high school graduation rates of students with disabilities compared to the graduation rates of the general population, and the percentage of parents who reported schools were encouraging parental involvement. Some states, such as Colorado, were judged harshly because they submitted no data for some indicators.

The Education Department also determined how well states were serving toddlers with disabilities and their families. In that section, 15 states met all requirements, 21 need assistance and 15 need intervention. No state needs substantial intervention.

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