Special Education – Change in Accountability

Recently, the United States Department of Education has included Results Driven Accountability (“RDA”) in its evaluation of a State’s compliance indicators under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), Section 504, the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”) and other special education enabling regulations. Procedural compliance poorly measures whether opportunities exist under which children learn.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress now includes RDA measures. RDA measures outcomes such as completion of special education programs within specific timelines. Additionally, the U.S. Dept. of Ed. Evaluates math proficiency scores to measure compliance with special education laws. Specifically, reading, math and graduation rates, matter with respect to compliance evaluations.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Education, last year 41 states met the technical and procedural standards for providing special education services to students. This year, with the RDA standards included in measuring a State’s performance, only 18 states pass the grade. Tennessee is not one of those states.

Tennessee needs improvements. In fact, according to the U.S. Dept. of Education, less than 10% of the nation’s 8th graders are proficient in reading.

The Department of Education may intervene if RDA scores fall below acceptable ranges for two consecutive years. Three (3) consecutive years of low scores expose funding to cuts or even forced participation in a compliance or correction plan.

The changes support learning for those children in grades 4 – 6. This change incorporates a measurement to use as an arrow in IDEA challenges. Additionally, these RDA encourage parents to actively challenge technological developments which afford their child the ability to learn in a mainstreamed environment.


Results Driven Accountability matters only to the extent creative articulation of those results impact disputes about FAPE. Parents challenging a local education agency utilize RDA to demonstrate what progress their child can make when afforded the supports to learn. RDA focuses on student needs and educational levels. This change improves functional outcomes.

Bowe & Associates, PLLC stands ready to help parents articulate that standard not only to their local school but also to courts of competent jurisdiction.