For a sixth 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 2018 IDEA report card. The commonwealth earned the maximum number of possible points on all 10 compliance indicators and on eight of the 14 achievement-related indicators. The 2018 IDEA report cards are based on data from the 2015-2016 school year.

“Virginia’s IDEA report card reflects the commonwealth’s commitment to including students with disabilities in its accountability system and to working with local school divisions to improve educational outcomes and transitions,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “This commitment is matched by the individual efforts of thousands of dedicated teachers, principals and other educators who provide the instruction, services and supports that enable students with disabilities to achieve their goals.”

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.

“I am especially pleased with the perfect scores Virginia earned for the timely resolution of complaints and due process hearings,” Lane said.

Virginia was one of 22 states to earn the Meets Requirements designation. Thirty-three states (including state-level systems, such as territorial school systems and school systems operated by federal agencies) were classified as needing assistance from the federal education department. One system — the federal Bureau of Indian Education — was 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.