This southern state has ranked exceptional in special education needs for more than a decade proving it's policy's worth.
Special needs students and those with disabilities have struggled to receive a fair and proper education in public schools for decades. Despite efforts to boost support in special education over the last few decades, these children continue to fall further and further behind. While most states are struggling to make up for learning loss, one state has once again proven to be elite in providing these students with superior opportunities. Virginia just received top ranking for improving students with disabilities outcomes for the 11th year in a row.
WSLS News reported that Virginia’s Department of Education announced the celebratory news based on the U.S. Department of Education’s national rankings that were recently released. The decision was made by the department’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This federal act requires all states to provide special education via service and excellence in a manner that can guide them through their educational career, and later on in life.
Each and every year, states report back to the federal program statistics on various special education data regarding how schools have served students with disabilities. Additionally, states relay new plans and initiatives for how they will strive for better outcomes in the future. Acting as a type of report card, IDEA releases evaluations each year for all states, citing whether or not they had met requirements, or needed more work. Once again making the top tier list and meeting the needs of disabled students for more than a decade in a row.
Virginia has been meeting the needs of special education students on par with what the federal government’s division expects in all subjects. Furthermore, Virginia’s dedication to this has led to more and more special needs students graduating from high school. Even apart from grades, Virginia scored well on discipline reports, providing services, and their ability to quickly resolve any conflicts.
So how exactly did the state of Virginia once again make this prestigious list? For one thing, the southern state laid out clear-cut plans based on recommendations from the federal Office of Special Education Programs to bolster support for these students when schools shuttered their doors during the pandemic, leaving many families scrambling to keep up with their needs. Virginia broadened their existing monitoring program for special education and came up with a new process to ensure that each school followed corrective action measures.
While this finding is promising to many families in Virginia, there remains another dark, ominous cloud over the state of public education not just in Virginia, but all over the nation. Not only are districts struggling to hire teachers in general, but special education qualified teachers are quite scarce as well. Some schools across America are even hiring unqualified individuals to work with special needs students, which could be detrimental to their success.
Now that Virginia has ranked exceptional in providing a well-rounded special education for students, other states would serve well to look to Virginia as a model of how to boost services for special needs students. There are nearly seven million disabled students in the county, making up about 14% of school enrollment figures. States have to continue to improve efforts to get these vulnerable students back on track.