Federal education officials say they’re looking to encourage better academic achievement among students with disabilities rather than simply ensuring schools follow the law.
In an announcement late last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said his agency’s special education division will be retooling its annual school reviews, which are designed to assess whether or not services are being provided to those with disabilities as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Officials say they’ve been successful at verifying that appropriate resources are in place for students with disabilities, but acknowledge that more needs to be done to improve outcomes.
“For too long we’ve been a compliance-driven bureaucracy when it comes to educating students with disabilities,” Duncan said. “We have to expect the very best from our students — and tell the truth about student performance — so that we can give all students the supports and services they need. The best way to do that is by focusing on results.”
Specifically, Education Department officials say they’re looking to find ways to spur increased academic performance and graduation rates.
Officials provided few details about how they hope to accomplish this, but said they will be halting the site-visit portion of their annual reviews for the coming school year so that a better review system can be devised that focuses on improving outcomes.