ED Announces Shift in Accountability for Special Education Programs

June 26, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states' special education programs to improve the educational outcomes of America's 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities. This shift is from a current system that is compliance focused to a new framework, known as Results-Driven Accountability (RDA), that will include educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities in making each state's annual determination under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Last year when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.


The IDEA requires that the primary focus of IDEA monitoring be on improving educational results and functional outcomes for children with disabilities and ensuring that states meet the IDEA program requirements. The current system places heavy emphasis on procedural compliance without consideration of how the requirements impact student learning outcomes. According to ED, in order to fulfill the requirements of IDEA, a more balanced approach to supporting program effectiveness in special education is necessary, hence the shift to the RDA framework.

IDEA requires the Department to make annual decisions for states in four categories: meet requirements, need assistance, need intervention, or need substantial intervention.


For more information, visit ED's website or contact Catherine D. Clarke, ASHA's director of education and regulatory advocacy, at cclarke@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5611.

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