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Study: Most U.S. states fail to meet SPED obligations

July 10, 2023, Disability Scoop: Most States Fall Short In Special Ed, Feds Say

The majority of states have failed to meet their obligations to serve students with disabilities for multiple years in a row, a new audit shows.

Just 22 states met requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for serving students with disabilities ages 3 to 21 during the 2021-2022 school year.

Meanwhile, the remaining states were designated “needs assistance,” with 22 states and Washington, D.C. earning that label for two or more years in a row. No state was assigned to the lesser categories of “needs intervention” or “needs substantial intervention.”

Under IDEA, the U.S. Department of Education must evaluate each state’s performance in providing special education services annually and assign them to one of four categories. The ratings factor both a state’s compliance with the law and outcomes for children with disabilities and their families, officials said.

If states do not achieve the “meets requirements” threshold for two or more years, the Education Department must take enforcement action, which can include requiring the state to access technical assistance or directing funds to the areas deemed inadequate, among other things.

States that achieved the “meets requirements” designation in the latest report include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky,

Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Separately, the Education Department said that 24 states were deemed “meets

requirements” for serving infants and toddlers with disabilities through age 2. Two states were designated as “needs intervention” and the remainder were placed in the “needs assistance” category for the younger age group.

The Education Department said that it will release more specifics about each state’s performance next month.


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