IDEA National Assessment Implementation Study: Final Report


This paper examines the state of IDEA services
in the five years after the law’s most recent reauthorization in 2004. Findings
are drawn from a 2009 survey of state special-education offices as well as 1,200
school districts. Though there is much throat-clearing in the report, it is
chockablock with relevant data. Perhaps the most interesting tidbits relate to implementation
of intervening services for students who are not yet identified as
special-needs but who require additional supports to succeed academically: Eleven
percent of districts have voluntarily opted to direct allotted IDEA funds toward services
like Response
to Intervention
(RTI), something they’ve only been allowed to do since 2004.
(RTI is an instructional technique that provides students with tiered and
increasingly intensive instruction to address problems in their early stages.) Still
many more districts provide such services without tapping into their IDEA funds:
When it comes to RTI specifically, fully 71 percent of districts—encompassing
61 percent of elementary schools, 45 percent of middle schools, and 29 percent
of high schools—use RTI. Unfortunately, the report stops short of analyzing why
districts are opting to spend their own cash on RTI initiatives, rather than
directing federal dollars to the cause, circling us back to an issue with
special-education writ large: Where, how, and why money gets spent remains a
black box.

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Bradley, M.C., Tamara Daley, Marjorie Levin, Fran O’Reilly, Amanda
Parsad, Anne Robertson,
and Alan Werner, “IDEA National Assessment Implementation
,” (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Evaluation and
Regional Assistance, Institute for Education Sciences, 2011).