Virginia earns highest special education rating for 11th year

Results were based on outcomes for students in compliance with IDEA

(Ferre' Dollar/CNN)

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia has continued to meet the requirements for special education programs in schools.

The Virginia Department of Education announced Monday that Virginia has earned the U.S. Department of Education’s top rating for improving outcomes for students with disabilities and compliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, 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, the release said.

And, the Virginia Department of Education said that this year is Virginia’s 11th year of earning the top rating.

The rating was based on the IDEA report card, which 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, according to the release.

The release went on to say that 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 individualized education programs, and the resolution of disputes.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said that the results are reflective of the hard work teachers and students put in every day.

“Results-driven accountability looks beyond compliance with the provisions of IDEA 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,” Balow said. “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.”

The Virginia Department of Education said it made enhancements that addressed the 2020 recommendations from the federal Office of Special Education Programs and the Commonwealth’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, which included:

  • Expanded special education monitoring program during the 2021-2022 school year, which included more criteria for investigating complaints,
  • A new process for making sure school divisions implemented required corrective actions.

The Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services Samantha Hollins said that the enhancements have been beneficial for improving programs.

“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,” Hollins said.

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Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.