Results Driven Accountability Effort – Question Two

OSEP appreciates the comments and suggestions posted in response to the most recent RDA blog question.  After reviewing those comments (click here to read them), it is clear that stakeholders believe that RDA must include both an analysis of student outcomes data and an analysis of a State’s oversight of the provisions of IDEA.

Question 2

OSEP provides oversight of States’ administration of the IDEA, while States provide oversight of IDEA implementation for local early intervention services programs and school districts.  Given that, how can OSEP work with States to impact improved educational results and functional outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth, while continuing to ensure that States properly implement IDEA requirements?


  1. Improve communication and working relationships between the OSEP and states by focusing more on research, technical assistance and training rather than a compliance only model.
    As OSEP works with states, communication with providers and parents at the local district level would provide a wonderful learning opportunity for all parties.

  2. I am a former state special education compliance monitor and have served as a surrogate parent for many years. What I have seen is schools who do not provide adequate information regarding their proposals, who take advantage of parents who do not know the laws, and outcomes that consist of suspension, expulsion, passing children just to get them out of their classroom, students exiting education very poorly prepared to get a job or take care of themselves. Accountability and consequences and both needed. Teachers who try to do the right thing are sometimes punished by administrators who just want the child with a disability to go away. We must have better procedures and we must have good outcomes for children with disabilities.

    • Amen to this comment. I have seen teachers bully parents and kids because they just can not cope with the demands of their job. Now more and more low test scores are causing teachers to be fired or reprimanded . Special Ed classes will have lower test scores why are they even in the equation of grading schools performances on test scores if teachers are going to be punished for a child’s cognitive impairment? Who suffers? It’s a formula for abuse. And now in Arizona a special interest lobby group has passed legislation to take out the lowest test scoring students and give them an Empowermnet Scholarship Sccount to withdraw these low performing students and put them somewhere else. This can be good and bad but it seems like it is one step closer to dismantling public education. Private schools have limited space for the influx of all theses special Ed students, charter schools are already publically funded in AZ so essentially you have the disenfranchised being lured out of the public school system so that schools can have higher test scores. Recently the law was changed to include foster children, children of military families, and children at failing schools. What do all these groups have in comman? Low test scores.

  3. In California, Special Education law firms suck up public education funds that should be going toward trainings in best practices and quality programming rather than “legally defensible” practices. How much money districts/SELPAs spend on attorney fees (including the trainings that attorneys are providing to staff and administration on such things as “Legally Defensible Note-Taking at IEP Meetings”) should be public knowledge–without having to file a Public Records Act request. OSEP should keep a close eye on how much distrcts are spending and insure that funds that should be reaching children are not instead padding the pockets of attorneys. Improved educational results and functional outcomes will not be priorities as long as attorneys are controlling Special Education by telling districts what to say and do to keep from providing services and by sponsoring state-wide trainings and conferences for administrators and teachers (as they do in California — with Special Education funds also used for said trainings). A broken system that does not focus on students’ needs is even more messed up by a one-sided/extremely partial hearing system. There should be a limit on how much money districts/SELPAs can spend on Special Education attorneys, and then that same amount of money should be allocated for attorney fees in the name of the children/families involved. Levels of unnecessary administration (e.g. SELPAs in CA) should be abolished. Put the money toward appropriate training, services, personnel, and programs instead of unnecessary administration and expensive law firms, and you will see improved educational results and improved outcomes.

  4. There are three things required to have proper oversight. First, you must attain accurate information. Secondly, you must weigh both sides and come to a fair decision after hearing that accurate information. And, lastly, there must be consequences or penalty for those who refuse to abide to the laws, IDEA requirements, or whatever terms set forth by the committee of oversight. Think of our own justice system. The police serve and protect, but they also gather the information, along with other specialists or investigative jurisdications to bring a matter to the courts. The court system has a judge and/or jury to reach a fair and impartial verdict. And, finally, the judge puts out a fair sentence against a defender who routinely ignores the law or disobeys it to an extreme measure. The punishment should fit the crime. Without one of these three steps (true facts, a fair trial, and practical forms of applying penalty), the justice system would be without proper power, authority, and oversight.

    These are the three steps that are lacking in effectiveness from the states or OSEP to be able to authorize oversight. First, we must gather accurate facts. This can be done by impartial organizations that communicate with parents, self advocates and a parent information center and other agencies that deal with people with disbilities in school district and the State. Or this could be done by any effective investigative team that could apply the law to the many allegations that could be potentially brought forth. Secondly, a form of effectively hearing these allegations must be established. Due process has many weaknesses depending on the state and area. But the last item, effective consequences or penalty, has never really been in place. And, therefore, school districts and other organizations who routinely or blatantly ignore educational laws and IDEA standards, have nothing to lose for years of past wrongdoing. Currently, the only penalty involved is to stop the wrongdoing. The punishment is not harsh enough or even effective to make schools think twice who have harmed the futures of kids for years.

  5. I am strongly in support of the comments posted by the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination. As a researcher for over 25 years in the field of intellectual and other developmental disabilities I believe that it is time for OSEP to strengthen its monitoring of and accountability for the amount of time that students with disabilities spend in general education classrooms. Since the passage of P.L. 94-142, researchers and policymakers have asked the following question: “How does the amount of time a student spends in general education affect [FILL IN THE BLANK.]” I believe that inclusion – defined as students’ valued membership, full participation, and reciprocal social relationships within a heterogeneous general education class — is a valued outcome in and of itself. If we want our students to leave school ready for responsible citizenship in inclusive communities, then surely they need to grow up in inclusive communities – at home and at school.

    • One size does not fit all. I have seen many special needs kids bullied in inclusion by teachers and students. It is up to districts to support inclusion with aids and many times there is not money for aids so these special kids are just thrown in to the classroom and it’s sink or swim. human nature has a pecking order and the weak are targeted. Anyone who says this doesn’t happen needs to learn empathy. Research is not complete on inclusion. Where is that data that it works. I would love to see it and provide me with a long term study and an adult student who took part in it so we can have some conclusive research over a long time period. data not antidotes please.

  6. The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) is a coalition dedicated to advancing economic opportunities for citizens with significant disabilities. The undersigned members of CPSD submit the following comments in response to OSEP question #2.

    The Advocacy Institute
    Autistic Self Advocacy Network
    Jay Nolan Community Services
    Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation
    National Fragile X Foundation
    National Down Syndrome Congress
    National Down Syndrome Society
    Physician-Parent Caregivers
    United Cerebral Palsy

    In order to impact improved educational results and functional outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth, the CPSD organizations listed above assert that OSEP oversight of State Education Agencies (SEAs), and SEA oversight of Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must ensure that:

    • Parents have accurate and timely information in order to be meaningful partners in the special education process;
    • Diverse stakeholders working towards system change have access to the information that will form the basis for their efforts;
    • LEAs are accountable for implementation of the IDEA and for meaningful outcomes for students with disabilities on an ongoing basis; and
    • OSEP and States have the data they need to ensure the law is implemented and on which to base continuous improvement efforts

    Ensure SEA oversight of LEAs on all indicators

    One important way that OSEP can work with States to improve student outcomes is to ensure that SEAs have strong, transparent LEA oversight systems that provide a focus on outcomes as well as compliance. Unfortunately, in current guidance, OSEP advises the SEAs that they are only required to consider whether the LEA has met federal indicators of compliance with IDEA requirements in making LEA determinations.

    As argued in a letter sent by the Center on Law and Education (CLE) to OSEP in 2010, “ED’s interpretation of the SEA oversight and enforcement obligations under IDEA has undermined each SEA’s independent obligation, which, as established by Congress in 2004 and expressly set forth in section 616(f), requires the SEA to determine whether or not an LEA is meeting the requirements under IDEA, including the targets in the State performance plan.”

    Now that the Department of Education is moving towards results driven accountability, it is time for OSEP to respond to the request made by CLE for administrative guidance “that promotes and encourages each SEA to provide on its website full information on the performance of every LEA on the full set of compliance and performance indicators set forth in its respective State performance plan.” Recently OSEP published a notice of proposed priority for a National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity To Accurately Collect and Report IDEA Data. If SEAs solely consider compliance indicators for LEA determination, then SEAs and LEAs will not be motivated to build the capacity for performance indicator data collection that is necessary for results driven accountability.

    Require transparency and public disclosure of data
    A high degree of transparency and public disclosure of data needs to be provided at the federal, state and LEA levels, including public reporting of all State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) data, determinations, corrective action and Maintenance of Effort issues. Information should be posted in a timely manner and be easy to locate on websites. The Maryland State Department of Education webpage for LEA determinations at is an excellent model of transparency on all of the indicators.

    IDEA Section 618 data had been available by disability category and by state until 2009. This information is no longer publicly reported and should be. It is particularly important for students with intellectual disabilities that these data be disaggregated. Data showing poor results for students with intellectual disabilities are masked by data for larger populations. OSEP has a responsibility to work with States to impact improved educational results and functional outcomes for all infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

    Prioritize and “Weight” Indicators

    Another recommendation is for OSEP to consider prioritizing and “weighting” the most important indicators more heavily by developing a “decision tree” to drill down when the data for a particular indicator is poor. For example, if the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) data in general (or for a particular disability category) is poor, then consider (as data availability allows)
    • Are the communication needs of the students being met, including communication devices when needed?
    • Are the principles of Universal Design for Learning being utilized?
    • Do the students have access to the general curriculum?
    • How does the state/district rate on quality indicators of inclusive education?

    Support student safety and best instructional practices

    OSEP should consider how monitoring could help keep children and schools safe through oversight of restraints and seclusion. It is also important that monitoring support the concept of “communicating by kindergarten” to ensure students have the communication support, language, and tools they need.

    Studies demonstrate the importance of inclusive education to improved outcomes for students with disabilities. To encourage meaningful inclusive experiences in early childhood, LRE data collection for SPP Indicator 6 (preschool inclusion) needs to be revamped. The current data collection system has resulted in preschool classes that are 50% students with disabilities and 50% students “at risk” as being considered inclusive. “Credit” should only be given when the percentage of students with disabilities reflects natural proportions.

    Studies also show that integrated paid employment prior to exiting school and postsecondary education are predictors of post-school success. Therefore, SPP Indicator 13 should require that the transition goals on the Individualized Education Program include paid integrated employment (not sheltered workshops) and/or postsecondary education (through dual enrollment or otherwise paid for by the LEAs) for the students who are 18 or older and still eligible for IDEA services.

    OSEP should also provide financial incentives for practices that are designed to improve educational results and functional outcomes for all infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, such as implementing Universal Design for Learning for access to the curriculum and providing access to communication support all students who need it. This approach would be similar to the idea in the Race to the Top Grant Program.

  7. I oversee a state contract providing early intervention under IDEA part c.

    I cannnot begin to adequately describe the amount of time and resources wasted in pursuing the minutae relating to timelines as a means of demonstrating quality.

    Quality assurance must be based on progress, and individualized enough to allow for the tremendous range of backgrounds, delays, and needs of the population we serve. In my opinion, a functional assessment at program entry and program exit would speak much more to the quality of services provided than an arbitrarily imposed timeline of when services should start or when an evaluation should be completed.

    Further effidence of efficacy could be collected by creating a national student ID number program which would follow each individual child through their entire educational career. This would greatly simplify longitudinal studies showing the efficacy of early intervention by allowing comparisons of similar cohort groups and adjusting for variables like length of time in program, quantity of services, socio-economic status, and perhaps even intervention methods.

  8. Funding. It is impossible to provide a quality early intervention program without adequate (and monitored) funding. You will not have compliance or results without it.
    States and local programs are jumping through too many hoops to try to financially piece together programs (Part C, state monies, Medicaid requirements, insurance requirements, etc.). Management and leadership teams are drawn away from focusing on practice, results, and compliance. They are desperately drawn towards the dollar. In the end, whoever pays is going to be who dictates what early intervention looks like and what we achieve. If you want results, fund them.

    • I totally agree!!! Local programs and States are struggling to keep programs operating. You said it all Dee!! Funding is our biggest barrier!

  9. Success should be measured by the results. The fact that our students are not being employed and prepared to live independent lives shows that something is not connecting. I feel that the schools and teachers are doing their job however the many agencies that provide support are not known to parents and/or schools until after graduation. The schools and parents need this information directly from the many state resources available. It is not working because they are not involved in the schools. To many ‘how to” not enough ‘where and when”. This is for any type of disability. So if these agencies stopped with research and new programs and provided direct contact in the schools for prepartation our ultimate goal would be improved. Therefore, “yes” the many agencies with transition as their purpose should report with how many people with disabilities they have placed in jobs and/or training centers.

  10. OSEP must further promote inclusive education in the least restrictive environment and support efforts that foster self-awareness, self-advocacy, and student participation in the development of their own educational programs.
    What exactly do we mean by “improved educational results and functional outcomes”? If we mean maximizing potential after graduation for independence and productivity within the community, as opposed to dependency on government welfare systems and segregated living and employment, then it is critical that we shift the focus of early childhood and school age deficit-driven service and support systems that are overly supportive and promote dependency and learned helplessness, to instead support student empowerment building on skills and affinities. From an early age, it should be the expectation that all students participate with their typical peers, and any decisions about their disability and educational decisions to accommodate for it include the individual him or herself.
    A concrete suggestion would be to promote student engagement through support for student-led IEP meetings. It is the rare exception to have a student participate meaningfully in their IEP or its development, yet it is critical that students have an understanding of who they are, how their disability impacts on their abilities, and what they are capable of -and good at- if they are to achieve any level of independence in adulthood.

  11. If OSEP offered micro-grants through states to individuals, small businesses, universities, think tanks such as UK’s P20 Initiative, and researchers to develop and test methods and strategies it would spark innovation and excellence in special education.

  12. For early intervention, we support the Early Childhood Outcomes as well as the use of the family outcomes survey developed by the ECO center. We agree that there should be consistency in the provision of early intervention services statewide in terms of provider network adequacy, rates, etc. We are concerned that some families are opting out and children are not receiving services due to the initiation of the family cost share and this needs to monitored in terms of outcomes.
    For special education, we agree with the use of the Special Education Medicaid Initiative for related services, as long as there is no effect on Medicaid waivers for children. However, we are concerned with the misperception that home medical services such as therapies and nursing which were medically-necessary, were being inappropriately reduced based on both IFSP/IEP’s (Individualized Family Service Plan/Individualized Education Program services that were required for FAPE {free, appropriate public education}), which occurred upon the rollout of mandatory Medicaid managed care, and affected special education as well as early intervention. In addition, recent autism coverage legislation enacted, although expanded to include all developmental disabilities, still only affected 25% of the insurance plans in our state. Also, there needs to be consistency statewide in the provision of services rather than the use of approximately 600 school district policies.
    For both EI and special education, we support OSEP technical assistance activities for continuous improvement, accomplished in the spirit of partnership. In addition to OSEP and state partnerships, parent/professional partnerships on the SEA/LEA levels (state education agency/local education agency) will result in best outcomes for children. We are concerned however with special education waivers reducing accountability in some states and this also needs to be monitored in terms of outcomes.

  13. each state has its own system of early care and education and discrete organization for its public schools. leveraging the early intervention funding/and 4410 funding with early care and education (including head start and early head start) and aligning the state curriculum (universal pre K) with the LEA public school curriculum would be both efficient and cost effective. the early years, with the additional funding, could be designed to parallel the standard work day/work year, while the upper grades could enhance their day with additional enrichment/tutoring to make sure that students are college or career ready.

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