Virginia again earns top special education rating

Published 9:54 am Friday, July 14, 2017

For a fifth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded Virginia its highest rating for improving outcomes for students with disabilities and for compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This information comes from Charles Pyle, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Education.

Virginia received a “Meets Requirements” designation on the federal department’s 2017 IDEA report card. The commonwealth earned the maximum number of possible points on all 10 compliance indicators — including in categories related to the identification of minority students for special education services and disciplinary actions — and on seven of the 14 performance-related indicators. The 2017 IDEA report cards are based on data from the 2014-2015 school year.

“This is recognition of the individual efforts of thousands of teachers, principals and support staff in our public schools who provide the instruction and the services Virginia students with disabilities need to achieve and thrive,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “It also reflects the commonwealth’s long-standing commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities and accountability for improving educational outcomes and transitions for students receiving special education services.”

The annual federal IDEA report card scores each state on compliance with the law, participation and performance of students with disabilities in state and national tests in reading and mathematics, and on success in improving the graduation rate of special education students.

Virginia was one of 24 state-level public education systems to earn the Meets Requirements designation (the federal IDEA reports include the District of Columbia, territorial school systems and schools operated by the Department of Defense and Bureau of Indian Affairs.) Thirty-four were classified as needing assistance from the federal education agency, including 28 rated as deficient in more than one area. One state-level system was identified as needing federal intervention to improve services and outcomes for students with disabilities.

IDEA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2004, requires states and school divisions to ensure that children with disabilities receive educational services that meet their educational needs and prepare them for further education, employment and productive lives. IDEA also requires states to establish targets in their annual State Performance plans for achieving the objectives of the law.