Delaware improves federal special ed rating

     (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

    (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

    Delaware’s special education students are achieving at a higher level according to a recently released federal ranking.

    The U.S. Department of Education labeled Delaware’s special education services as “needs assistance” based on a formula that combines a state’s test results with its level of legal compliance. That’s an improvement from last year, when Delaware was one of just three states to earn a “needs intervention” rating, the agency’s second-lowest. No state earned a lower mark.

    State officials credited the uptick to improve professional development for teachers and better student tracking.

    “Over the past year we have partnered with our districts and charter schools to examine data, provide additional educator training, begin new programs and clarify expectations for students with disabilities,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said in a statement. “We know we have more work to do, and we are committed to continue to make improvements until all Delaware students have the best chance to make the most of their abilities.”

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    The U.S. Department of Education ratings look specifically at how special education students perform on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a standardized test given nationwide. The Department also takes into account student participation in the NAEP test as well as high school graduation rates.

    Twenty one states and territories earned the Department’s highest rating of “meets requirements.” That group included Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

    Delaware was among 36 states and territories to be labeled “needs assistance.”

    Texas, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Education were the only entities to be labeled “needs intervention.”

    No state or territory needed “substantial intervention” according to the Department’s rubric.

     Special education in Delaware has become an increasingly hot topic. In late June, Governor Jack Markell signed a law intended to improve the process by which schools approve special education services for children.

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