It is the day after Christmas and I want to get one more blog done before 2010 arrives. There are times for poetry and times for humor. There are times for anger, understanding, and dismay. But now, as we look at next year, it is time for facts- objective data that lets us know where we have been and where we are going.
The 2004 reauthorization of IDEA required that all states and commonwealths file Special Education State Performance Plans that are public information. Each is reviewed by OSEP, with an Annual Performance Report sent to each state containing federal findings and analysis of the data that was filed. That last reported national findings occurred in June of 2008. I will report only on the findings for Part B, or that part of IDEA covering students ages 3-21. Categories of data analysis conclusions consist of:
When a state needs assistance from the federal government it is for a variety of reasons, most dealing with incomplete or nonexistent data reporting. Many have failed to correct problems from the prior year. The most serious category, Needs Intervention, means the possible loss of federal grant money and places the state in a “high risk” category. When we remember that the laws upon which these Annual Performance Plans are based, P.L. 94-142, was passed in 1975 and implemented in 1977, the perpetual failure to fully implement special education continues as a monument to broken promises.
States/Commonwealths That Fully Comply With IDEA (15)
States/Commonwealths in Need of Assistance (35)
Needs Intervention (9)
A total of 59 states or commonwealths receive federal funds to implement special education 34 years after the original legislation. About 6% are in compliance, and well over half are out of compliance, many on a dramatic scale. About 11% are in need of intervention. Each Annual Performance Report was individualized, examining all of the statistical data for all required elements of IDEA, Part B implementation. No state has had money withheld for lack of compliance, even the Virgin Islands, though it has failed to even attempt to comply for 3 consecutive years. There are problems with IEP development, high school transition, transition from Part C, over-representation of minorities in specific disability categories. Money is given by OSEP to those failing to comply under a contract in which grant money is awarded under “special conditions”. It is unclear what those conditions are. Indiana is so bad that the report indicts the entire state system for failure to supervise.
It will be 2010 in a week. There are New Year’s resolutions to make. We must each translate the lack of compliance and the ability of our government to make IDEA work into a plan of action. Even when the data indicates states are compliant, those who live there find the conclusions impossible to believe. So imagine how bad it must be to Need Intervention! It is up to us. Happy New Year!