U.S. Education Department raises special education benchmarks
On Tuesday, the U.S. Depart of Education announced that the way it determines if states are meeting the needs of their students with disabilities is going to change. Factors like state graduation rates and test scores will now be considered more heavily when determining what states are helping, and what states are failing, their special education students.
States that are unable to meet the new benchmarks set forth for three years or more could face losing some of their special education funding.
So just how different are the new requirements, and how difficult will it be for states to achieve the benchmarks when it comes to special education students? To put it in perspective, 41 states met the requirements of the old system. Under the new requirements, only 18 states meet the standards.
In speaking about the reason for this shift in policy, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan implied that by setting a higher bar for special education achievements, students will benefit.
“We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to the general curriculum in the regular classroom, they excel. We must be honest about student performance, so that we can give all students the supports and services they need to succeed,” he said.
It is estimated that 6.5 million children in the U.S. are disabilities.
Bill East of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education says that he is not discouraged by the initial dip in states meeting requirements, because he expects states to adapt and come out successful in the end.
I’m interested to see how these standards pan out over time. Will we see higher special education achievements as a result? Or will we see more frustration from teachers, parents and the students themselves?