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Only 9 States Get 'Satisfactory' on IDEA Report Cards

Only nine states passed muster according to the first-ever "IDEA State Report Cards" issued by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) in late June.

Those nine states met standards for educating children with disabilities. The remaining 41 states and eight territories were found to need "assistance" or "intervention."

Patti Ralabate, NEA's special education expert, explained that when Congress reauthorized IDEA in 2004, it added state accountability requirements related to how well states educate students with disabilities. Each state is required to develop a State Performance Plan (SPP) which includes indicators on the state's IDEA implementation of Part B (i.e., programs and services for students aged 5-21 ).

Each state had to submit an Annual Performance Report (APR) on its progress to the USED by February 2007. States are also required to report the performance of every local school district to the public by posting a report on department of education websites and distributing copies to the media.

Using the APR reports, monitoring visits, and other data, the U.S. Secretary of Education determined which of these levels were met by each state:

  • Meets the requirements and purposes of IDEA
  • Needs assistance in implementing the requirements of IDEA
  • Needs intervention in implementing the requirements of IDEA
  • Needs substantial intervention in implementing the requirements of IDEA

There are no immediate sanctions for states that fell into the "needs assistance" or "needs intervention" categories because this is the first year of this accountability system. However, if states don't improve, they do face sanctions, including potential loss of federal funds.

Two key overall weaknesses were noted by the USED:

  • States failed to ensure that local school districts complied with the law
  • States failed to comply with requirements about the transition of students from school to college or work

The nine states that met requirements were: AK, CT, HI, MI, OR, PA, TN, VA, WY.

States in the "needs assistance" category were: AL, AZ, AR, CA, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, RI, SC, SD, TX, UT, VT, WV, WI.

States in the "needs intervention" category were: CO, IN, NC, ND, WA, and DC.

No states were in the "needs substantial intervention" category.

To find your state's determination, see this USED fact sheet . To find specific concerns outlined in letters to your state go to the USED Web site here.

June 2007