Annual evaluations from the U.S. Department of Education show that the majority of states are missing the mark when it comes to their special education services. (Anne Meadows/Flickr)
More than half of states have failed to meet their obligations to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for at least the last two years, federal officials say.
In an annual report evaluating each state’s special education performance, the U.S. Department of Education determined that just 21 states qualified for the designation of “meets requirements” for the 2020-2021 school year for students with disabilities ages 3 through 21.
All other states were labeled “needs assistance,” a category that 26 states and Washington, D.C. have fallen into for two or more consecutive years, the agency said.
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Since the data that the determinations were based on was impacted by COVID-19, the Education Department said it did not give any state the more problematic label of “needs intervention.” In addition, no state received the most dire designation of “needs substantial intervention.”
Under IDEA, states must report each year to the federal government about their performance in providing special education services. Then, the secretary of education issues a determination letter assigning them to one of four categories.
States that don’t qualify for the “meets requirements” designation for two or more years are subject to various Education Department enforcement actions, which may include being required to access technical assistance, implementing a corrective action plan or funds being withheld, among other things.
The states that achieved the threshold of “meets requirements” in the current report include Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
A separate label was given to each state related to services for children with disabilities up to age 2. Federal education officials deemed 29 states and Washington, D.C. as “meets requirements” for that age group. The remaining states were labeled “needs intervention.”
The Education Department said that it will release full determination letters with more details about each state later this month.