Federal officials indicate that less than half of states are meeting their obligations under special education law.

The U.S. Department of Education says that just 19 states qualified for the “meets requirements” designation for the 2013-2014 school year. The rest of states were classified as “needs assistance” or “needs intervention.”

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Education Department must evaluate states annually on their efforts to implement special education programs.

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The ratings carry significant weight. If a state fails to meet requirements for two or more years, the Department of Education must take enforcement action, which can include a corrective action plan or withholding funds, among other steps.

This is the second year that the Education Department has relied on stricter measures to assess compliance.

Previously, states were graded based on their adherence to procedural requirements like completing evaluations or due process hearings. Now, however, federal officials are taking into account student performance and functional outcomes for kids with disabilities in addition to compliance.

States were notified in letters dated June 30 of their standing.

For the ninth consecutive year, federal officials said that Washington, DC “needs intervention.” The same designation was given to Texas for the second year in a row.

States determined to “meet requirements” for the 2013-2014 school year include Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Education Department said that the remaining states need assistance.