ERIC Number: ED483245
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Sep
Special Education: Improved Timeliness and Better Use of Enforcement Actions Could Strengthen Education's Monitoring System. Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate. GAO-04-879
Shaul, Marnie S.
US Government Accountability Office
This study investigated how the Department of Education (Education) monitored state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children age 3-21 years, the extent and nature of noncompliance, and how Education has ensured that noncompliance is resolved once identified. Researchers analyzed Education monitoring documents, interviewed state and federal officials, and visited five state special education offices. Overall, to monitor compliance, Education annually reviews special education data submitted by all states and uses a risk-based approach to identify states in need of further inspection. This monitoring system relies upon collaboration with states, as each state is responsible for assessing and reporting its performance on the provision of special education services. Some of the data used by Education, such as information on how parents are included in their children's education and students' experiences after leaving school, are weak in that they are not uniformly measured or are difficult for states to collect. From 1997-2002, Education identified roughly equal amounts of noncompliance for failing to adequately provide services to students as noncompliance for not adhering to IDEA's procedural regulations. Education found 253 compliance failures in 30 of 31 states visited during this time. This study found 52 percent of compliance failures to be directly related to providing student services. The remaining 48 percent involved failure to meet certain IDEA procedural requirements. Education sought resolution by providing states with technical assistance and requiring them to develop corrective action plans to ensure compliance within 1 year. However, most cases of noncompliance remained open for 2-7 years before closure. On occasion, Education made use of sanctions to address longstanding issues with noncompliance, although resolution has been protracted. States expressed concerns about the standard 1-year timeframe Education imposes for correction, and Education officials acknowledged that it is sometimes not feasible for states to remedy noncompliance and demonstrate effectiveness in that length of time. Appended are: Scope and Methodology; IDEA-Related Sanctions 1994-2003; Comments from the Department of Education; and GAO contacts and staff acknowledgements.
Descriptors: Disabilities, Federal Legislation, Educational Legislation, Compliance (Legal), Federal Government, State Departments of Education, Special Education, Sanctions, Data Collection, Technical Assistance
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room LM, Washington, DC 20548. Tel: 202-512-6000; TDD: 202-512-2537; Fax: 202-512-6061.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC.