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More Than Half of States Need Help Meeting Special Education Requirements


Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia need some degree of support in meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to the U.S. Department of Education's most recent evaluation of state performance.

For the third year in a row, the Education Department evaluated states on the academic outcomes of students 3-21 with disabilities—so-called "results" data—in addition to how well the states met the rules and regulations spelled out in the IDEA.

States were measured on the percentage of students with disabilities participating in state tests and in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP; the percentage of students with disabilities scoring at or above basic on NAEP; the percentage of students who dropped out; and the percentage of students with disabilities who graduated with a regular high school diploma. 

Twenty-four states were in the category of "meets requirements," an increase of five states from last year. The remaining states were in the categories of "needs assistance" or "needs intervention," each of which comes with some level of increased help or oversight by the department. No state was in the lowest category, "needs substantial intervention."

The District of Columbia was deemed to need intervention for the 10th year in a row. It has been required to use part of its federal special education money to improve in areas such as postsecondary transition and timely evaluation for services. These are funds that would otherwise be used for monitoring or professional development, not direct services to students.  

The scores and evaluations for each state, as well as for the territories, are available at the OSEP Grads360 website.  

[CORRECTION: The original version of this report mischaracterized several states, based on out-of-date information from the U.S. Department of Education, which amended some determinations. The map and the text have been updated to reflect the most recent amendments.]

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