More than half of states are falling behind in meeting their responsibilities to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, federal officials say.

In an annual evaluation of each state’s special education performance, the U.S. Department of Education found that just 22 states qualified for the designation of “meets requirements” for the 2019-2020 school year for students ages 3 to 21.

The remaining states were deemed “needs assistance,” a category that many have fallen into for two or more years.

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No states were placed in the lower two categories of “needs intervention” or “needs substantial intervention,” according to a released recently report from the Education Department.

IDEA requires states to report to the federal government annually about their performance in providing special education services. The secretary of education then must generate a determination letter for each state assigning them to one of four levels.

States that fail to qualify for the “meets requirements” category for two or more years are subject to various Education Department enforcement actions which can include being directed to access technical assistance, a corrective action plan or funds being withheld, among other things.

States in the “meets requirements” category in the latest report include Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In a separate evaluation of services provided to children with disabilities up to age 2, the Education Department indicated that 28 states and Washington, D.C. qualified for the “meets requirements” designation. All other states were categorized as “needs assistance.”

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