Federal education officials are calling out more than half of states for failing to meet their obligations under the nation’s special education law.
The U.S. Department of Education determined that just 24 states qualified at the “meets requirements” level. The rest of the states were identified as “needs assistance” or “needs intervention” for the 2014-2015 school year.
The findings are the result of an annual review mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
If states do not receive the “meets requirements” designation for two or more years, the Education Department is required under the law to take enforcement action. This can include developing a corrective action plan, withholding funds or other changes.
This is the third year that federal officials have relied on a more rigorous standard to assess states. Previously, determinations were based on meeting procedural requirements like completing special education evaluations. Now, however, student performance and outcomes for kids with disabilities are also factored in state determinations.
Though fewer than half of states were found to meet requirements for the 2014-2015 school year, the latest report does indicate that a growing number of states are meeting the standard. By comparison, 19 states received letters last year indicating that they met their obligations under IDEA.
In the most recent assessments, the Education Department determined that Washington, DC “needs intervention” for the tenth consecutive year. Nevada also received that label, though it did not the previous year.
Meanwhile, states considered to meet requirements include Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The remaining states were labeled by the Education Department as “needs assistance.”
No state was given the most dire designation of “needs substantial intervention.”