The nation is showing some signs of improvement in educating students with disabilities, though federal officials say nearly half of states continue to need help.

For the 2010-2011 school year, 30 states met a series of goals for their special education programs, according to an analysis of new U.S. Department of Education ratings that was done by Education Week. That’s up from 28 the year prior.

Each year, the Education Department assesses how well states live up to their plans to meet the needs of students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. States are given one of four labels — “meets requirements,” “needs assistance,” “needs intervention” or “needs substantial intervention.” The assessments consider factors like how long it takes a child to be evaluated for special education, whether or not students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended or representative of certain racial groups and how well students are prepared for the post-high school world, among other issues.

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Though the number of states achieving the highest rating did increase, so too did the proportion the Education Department determined “needs intervention.” Nine states fell into that category for the 2010-2011 school year compared to three the previous year.

For each of the last two years of data, federal officials determined that all other states fell into the “needs assistance” category. No state was deemed to “need substantial intervention” in either year.

The District of Columbia has the worst track record, according to the Education Week analysis, having failed to meet requirements for six years in a row.