ERIC Number: EJ890705
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul-14
Reference Count: N/A
Value of IDEA Ratings Questioned
Samuels, Christina A.
Education Week, v29 n36 p1, 27 Jul 2010
Just as it has every June since 2006, the U.S. Department of Education last month delivered a rating to each state and territory based on the performance of its special education programs. The ratings, intended to fulfill the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act's requirement that "measurable" and "rigorous" targets be met on the 6.7 million school-age students enrolled in special education, are derived from reams of information that each state submits on a yearly basis. The data cover everything from student dropout rates in special education, to the percentage of children who were evaluated for special education needs within federally mandated timelines, to whether students with disabilities found work after they graduated. But when state and federal officials are asked if the effort has led to better education for students with disabilities, the answer that comes back is that they are not sure. From the perspective of many state special education directors, having the federal government re-examine the process is essential. Special education directors of large and small states, in states that have done well throughout the process and in states that have had challenges meeting their goals, all suggest that the intensive data process has had positive effects, but such effects are almost impossible to quantify. The Department of Education is conducting an evaluation process that would help it figure out if the department is asking states the right questions to get at the essential--yet difficult to measure--concept of improved education for students with disabilities. At the same time, the department plans to have "frank conversations" with state officials. The timing is crucial, with the federal laws governing general education and special education under congressional scrutiny as they come up for reauthorization. Whatever federal and state officials decide that they have learned from this effort may end up incorporated as changes in those laws.
Descriptors: Special Education, National Standards, School Statistics, Benchmarking, Classification, Evaluation Criteria, Evaluation Methods, Robustness (Statistics), Educational Indicators, Federal Regulation, Academic Accommodations (Disabilities), Achievement Rating, State Norms
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act