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Virginia Schools Earn Top Federal Rating & Second-Highest Score for Special Education

shutterstock_204989500-map VirginiaVirginia public schools received kudos this week when it earned the US Department of Education’s highest overall rating and achieved the second-highest score for serving students with disabilities under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  This was announced by Governor Terry McAuliffe on his website.

“In every school division in the Commonwealth, there are special educators who are committed to preparing all students to succeed,” the Governor said. “These accomplishments are the result of their efforts, as well as successful partnerships between the state and localities in developing innovative programs to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.”

The US Education Department scores and rates states annually on the participation and performance of students with disabilities in state and national assessment programs and on states’ progress in narrowing achievement gaps and improving graduation rates. Virginia earned the maximum number of possible points on 13 of the 14 indicators, achieving a total score of 95.83.

Virginia is one of 21 states and territories earning a “Meets Requirements” designation, the highest overall rating on the 2015 IDEA report card.

Virginia fell short, according to the announcement, on an indicator that rates states on the percentage of students with disabilities who graduate with what the federal education department considers a “regular” diploma, which, in Virginia, includes the Standard Diploma and the Advanced Studies Diploma.

“The state Board of Education’s rigorous diploma standards put the Commonwealth at a disadvantage compared with states that do not set as high a bar,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “We will address this challenge by maintaining high standards for all students while making sure that students with disabilities are able to take advantage of appropriate alternative assessments and accommodations as they work toward meeting their diploma requirements.”

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.  IDEA also requires states to establish targets in their annual State Performance plans for achieving the objectives of the law.

The 2015 IDEA state report cards are based on data from the 2012-2013 school year.

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Mafalda Marrocco