DOE releases annual special education rankings

Rows of desks in empty classroom
Special Education Report Released

The Department of Education released its annual special education rankings [PDF] July 6, rating each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia on their services provided for special education students during the 2013-14 school year.

The DOE categorized 19 states as “meets requirements,” its highest ranking, up from 15 states the prior year, as reported by Education Week. Another 30 states were ranked as “needs assistance.”

At the bottom of the ladder, Texas, for the second straight year, and the District of Columbia, for the ninth straight year, were ranked as “needs intervention.” Last year, both California and Delaware were also ranked as “needs intervention.”

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the DOE is required to take one or more corrective actions against states ranked as “needs intervention” three years straight, such as withholding federal funds or requiring a compliance agreement.

The ranking, mandated by the 2004 amendments to the IDEA, traditionally were based exclusively on the state’s compliance with the procedural requirements under IDEA. However, beginning last year, the DOE now also includes analysis of the state’s substantive performance in providing effective services.

For this year’s report, the DOE for the first time looked at the percentage of students with disabilities who dropped out of school, as well as the percentage of those who graduated with a high school diploma. In response to extensive criticism, it dropped a requirement that states be evaluated on discrepancies between how students with disabilities and the general student population perform on state examinations.