140528-N-PO203-078 ARLINGTON, Va. (May. 28, 2014) Kurt Yankaskas, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), talks with students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology about the International Submarine Races (ISR). ISR is a unique international engineering design competition that inspires high school and college-age students of the various engineering disciplines to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Virginia earned the top rating – “Meets Requirements”– for the 11th consecutive year on a federal report card looking at outcomes for students with disabilities.

“Results-driven accountability looks beyond compliance with the provisions of IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] to see whether the efforts of special educators at the state and local levels are actually improving outcomes for students with disabilities. This latest federal rating shows that Virginia’s special educators continue to do just that,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a Virginia Department of Education [VDOE] press release. “I think every school in the Commonwealth can take a page from the special education playbook by providing individualized instruction plans and tailored interventions for all students.”

According to a federal press release, each state reports its state systemic performance plan and annual performance report, focused on how that state implements IDEA requirements. The federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) then determines if the state meets the requirements, or if assistance, intervention, or substantial intervention is required.

“OSEP’s [Office of Special Education Programs] accountability framework, called Results Driven Accountability (RDA), brings into focus the educational results and functional outcomes for children with disabilities while balancing those results with the compliance requirements of IDEA. Protecting the rights of children with disabilities and their families is a key responsibility of State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) for Part B, and State Lead Agencies and early intervention service programs and providers for Part C, but it is not sufficient if children are not attaining the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish the ideals of IDEA: equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency,” a June announcement states.

OSERS hasn’t yet published the 2022 letters to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services commissioner or the superintendent of public instruction, but has reported that Virginia meets IDEA requirements under Parts B and C.

According to the VDOE release, in the 2021-2022 school year, the VDOE incorporated expanded criteria for complaints investigation and a new process to ensure that school divisions implemented corrective actions – recommendations from OSEP and Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).

“The enhanced monitoring program has increased our ability to identify local programs that need improvement and our ability to make sure that corrective actions are carried out,” Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services Samantha Hollins said in the release.

This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.