Virginia Public Schools Again Earn Top Special Education Rating

For a seventh consecutive year, Virginia has earned the U.S. Department of Education’s highest rating for improving outcomes for students with disabilities and for compliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Virginia received a “Meets Requirements” designation on the federal education department’s 2019 IDEA report card. The commonwealth earned the maximum number of possible points on all 10 compliance indicators and on 13 of the 14 achievement-related indicators. Virginia’s overall score of 95.83 percent was the second highest of the 60 state, territorial and federal school systems evaluated. The 2019 IDEA state report cards are based on data from the 2016-2017 school year.

“A key measure of the quality of a state’s public schools is found in the supports and services provided for students with disabilities and in outcomes for these students,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “I congratulate Virginia’s special educators — including teachers, administrators and support services professionals — for their commitment to equity for students with disabilities and the passion they show every day for helping every student achieve his or her fullest potential.”

The annual federal IDEA report card scores states on the participation and performance of students with disabilities on state and national reading and mathematics tests, and on the success of states in improving graduation rates for special education students. The report card also includes indicators related to discipline, the identification of minority students for special education services, the evaluation of students for services and the development of individual education programs, and the resolution of disputes between parents and local school divisions.

“The commonwealth’s perfect score for compliance speaks to the support the Virginia Department of Education provides to school divisions and its effectiveness in ensuring that students with disabilities receive all of the instructional and support services they are guaranteed under the law,” Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services Samantha Hollins said.

Virginia was one of 20 states to earn the Meets Requirements designation. Thirty-seven states and state-level systems were classified as needing assistance from the federal education department. Three systems were identified as needing federal intervention to improve services and outcomes for students with disabilities.

IDEA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2004, requires states and school divisions to ensure that children with disabilities receive educational services that meet their educational needs and prepare them for further education, employment and productive lives. IDEA also requires states to establish targets in their annual State Performance plans for achieving the objectives of the law.