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Majority of States Fall Short on Special Education Compliance, Ed. Dept. Says


Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia need some help from the federal government in meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to assessments of state performance released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Education Department evaluates states annually on both compliance data—how well each state follows the rules and regulations in the special education law—as well as "results data," which is how students with disabilities are actually performing academically.

This year, results data included the percentage of 4th- and 8th-graders with disabilities participating in state assessments, the percentage of 8th-graders participating in the National Assessment of Educational Progress; the percentage of 4th- and 8th-grade students scoring basic or above on the NAEP, the percentage of students with disabilities who dropped out of school, and the percentage who left school with a regular diploma. 

The latest determinations were based on data collected during the 2016-17 school year. Both compliance data and results data count for half of a state's rating. 

Most states fell into the "needs assistance" or "needs intervention" categories, which triggers a number of responses from the office of special education programs, including referring a state to technical assisance, or directing the state to use part of its funds to focus on areas where it needs the most help. 

Michigan and the District of Columbia were the only two jurisdictions to be classified as "needs intervention" this year.

For Michigan, this is a slip from last year's ranking of "needs assistance." The lower rating is based in part on Michigan's low scores in the percentage of 8th-graders who took regular state assessments and the NAEP, the high percentage of students with disabilities who dropped out of school (29 percent, in the case of Michigan), and the relatively low percentage of students in special education who graduated with a regular diploma (63 percent.) 

The scores and evaluations for each state, as well as the territories, can be found on the office of special education program's Grads360 website. 

[CORRECTION (July 23): The original version of this blog post stated that the District of Columbia misstated the determination for the District of Columbia. It has been ranked as "needs intervention" in previous years.]

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