Utah – “Needs Assistance” to comply with IDEA and ESEA per USDOE

USDOE is required to review and grade each state on how well it complies with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  In the last two years, USDOE has stricter measures to assess compliance with IDEA and ESEA by each state.

“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.”

(Disabilityscoop, November 20, 2015, see separate post on USDOE ranks states in this blog.)

Utah is ranked as “Needs Assistance”

Utah Office of Education (USOE) implemented a plan to bring Utah into compliance with IDEA/ESEA The following two statements are found in the Utah State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), April 2015.

“Utah’s 2013–2014 SAGE tests show 42.2% of students without disabilities in grades three through eight and ten were proficient in mathematics, but just 12.9% of students with disabilities were proficient: a 29.3% achievement gap. To address this achievement gap, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) brought together a variety of education and community stakeholders to create the FFY 2013 State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Phase I.”

“This document represents Utah’s Phase I plan for the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), and describes the state system and its capacity to assist Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to develop the needed capacity to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. These improvement efforts align with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The success of the SSIP requires systematic improvement across the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) and LEAs to leverage existing strengths while simultaneously closing system gaps. ”



Feds: Most States Failing To Meet Special Ed Obligations

Feds: Most States Failing To Meet Special Ed Obligations by Michelle Diament | July 14, 2015, Disabilityscoop (email)


(Note: Utah’s status is “Needing Assistance”)

“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.


Please refer to a separate post on the response from the state of Utah State of Education (USOE) to its rating of “needs assistance”. (Phase I plan for the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP))

Feds: IEPs Should Align With Grade-Level Standards

Feds: IEPs Should Align With Grade-Level Standards by Michelle Diament | November 17, 2015, Disabilityscoop (email)


“Beyond offering a free appropriate public education, individualized education programs for students with disabilities should meet grade-level requirements, federal education officials say.

In guidance released Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education said that all IEPs should conform to “the state’s academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled.”

The directive comes ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — the federal law requiring appropriate school services for children with disabilities — later this month.”

“In the 40 years since this law was enacted, we have moved beyond simply providing children and youth with disabilities access to the school house,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Today, we want to assure that these students have no less than the same equal shot at the American dream as their non-disabled peers.”

According to the guidance, IEP teams must ensure that programs feature grade-level academics, but that instruction and support services are tailored so children can learn the material and progress toward achieving their individual goals.


The guidance on FAPE from the USDOE link above has this statement:

“The term “general education curriculum” is not specifically defined in the IDEA. The Department’s regulations implementing Part B of the IDEA, however, state that the general education curriculum is “the same curriculum as for non-disabled children.” (USDOE – Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Memorandum, Guidance on FAPE, November 16, 2015, Page 2, Interpretation of “General Education Curriculum”)