Today, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released the District of Columbia’s first-ever Special Education Performance Report (SEPR), a comprehensive evaluation of special education programs in the District designed to help educators, families and policymakers better serve and improve academic achievement for students with disabilities.
“As part of its commitment to accelerating academic outcomes for students with disabilities, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education has taken the lead in providing an unprecedented amount of information on the special education programs our children attend through our new Special Education Performance Report,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “This annual report, released for the first time this year, provides the important information educators and families need to best serve their students and helps us pinpoint the supports our school need so that all students can be successful.”
Posted to the OSSE website today and distributed to DC local education agencies (LEAs) this week for release to DC families, the SEPR provides an annual score for each LEA’s special education program based on federal reporting data and key student progress measures.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), state agencies like OSSE are required to issue IDEA Part B Annual Determinations to LEAs. SEPR is OSSE’s new and improved annual determinations which includes an emphasis on student outcomes and results-based indicators.
With the inclusion and emphasis on results-based indicators of students’ progress, SEPR provides LEAs and the public a realistic, baseline assessment of the health of all special education programs in the District. In previous years, LEAs demonstrating procedural compliance scored in the highest tier. Beginning this school year, the SEPR will provide a more comprehensive picture of not only how well LEAs are able to complete special education activities in compliance but more importantly how well an LEA’s special education program is preparing students for academic success.
The SEPR also gives LEAs and families meaningful information about LEA progress toward improving outcomes for students with disabilities and helps OSSE determine the proper supports LEAs need to build educator and system capacity to serve students with disabilities.
The 2023 SEPR is a summative evaluation of the performance of an LEA’s special education program based on reporting and monitoring data for the 2021-22 school year (federal fiscal year 2021, or July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022). OSSE will analyze state and LEA SEPR data to identify, plan and implement appropriate and meaningful technical assistance (TA) and professional development (PD) in the area of special education to build educator and system capacity to serve students with disabilities.
LEA and school staff can access the SEPR framework, measure definitions, scoring guidance, a technical guide and a list of LEA SEPRs on OSSE’s Special Education Performance Report (SEPR) Website. As part of the 2023 SEPR, families receive communication from their LEA that includes the LEA’s SEPR level - leading, strengthening, building, or emerging.
Results in the 2023 SEPR show 21 LEAs in the Leading level. These LEAs have the highest rates of compliance and quality service delivery to students and require supports to maintain systems. A total 38 LEAs in the Strengthening level show high rates of compliance and quality service delivery to students and require supports to expand systems. Five LEAs are Building, which means they are approaching compliance and quality service delivery to students and require data informed planning to improve educator and systems capacity. No LEAs are in the Emerging level which would require supports to improve both compliance and quality service delivery to students. These LEAs would also need to build educator capacity building through intensive training and implementation supports.
The SEPR builds on the District’s momentum in serving special education students through the following initiatives, many of which are tied to supporting student recovery learning:
- Investing more than $7 million in federal stimulus funds to support students with disabilities.
- Launching the Special Education Micro-Credential and the Special Education Endorsement Recovery Initiative (SEERI) leveraging over $1 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund state set-aside funds.
- Investing $1.5 million over three years in the DC Special Education Hub, which provides plain-language, multilingual resources and one-on-one assistance for students with disabilities, helping families and students with disabilities make informed decisions about their own learning.
OSSE is partnering with the DC Special Education Hub to provide family training on SEPR later this fall. Details of the training will be posted on OSSE’s website.