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Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

IDEA National Assessment Implementation Study

Contractors: Abt Associates, Westat, and Windwalker Corporation

Key Staff:
Fran O'Reilly, (Abt Associates)
Marjorie Levin (Abt Associates)
Thomas Fiore (Westat)

Research Questions:

  1. How does each State determine, under IDEA 2004, significant disproportionalities by race and ethnicity in the identification of students for special education for the districts within the State, and to what extent have districts been so identified?
  2. Which early intervening and/or response to intervention (RtI) strategies do districts use at various grade levels prior to the identification of children for special education, and how do rates of identification for special education vary according to the adoption of these strategies?
  3. How does the incidence of disputes between special education personnel and parents/ guardians regarding special education identification or services vary over time and with the use of mediation by States and districts?
  4. Across States, what are the different models of service delivery for the Part C program supported through IDEA, and of coordination among the various early intervention and special education services provided through Part C and Part B?
  5. Do State or district policies explicitly reference State academic standards for students with disabilities, and do these policies require that goals and objectives on IEPs reference those standards?
  6. What are States and districts doing in terms of certification, professional development, and compensation for early intervention and special education personnel to promote compliance with the "highly qualified" personnel provisions of IDEA and No Child Left Behind?

Design: This contract is supporting new data collection from State agencies and school districts to address implementation questions for the National Assessment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 in the four broad areas targeted for this study: (1) identification of children for early intervention and special education; (2) early intervention service delivery systems and coordination with special education; (3) academic standards and personnel qualifications; and (4) dispute resolution and mediation.

Data collection includes three surveys of state administrators: (1) Part B administrators responsible for programs providing special education services to school aged children with disabilities (6-21); (2) 619 coordinators who oversee preschool programs for children with disabilities ages 3-5, and; (3) IDEA Part C coordinators who are responsible for early intervention programs serving infants and toddlers. A fourth survey will collect district level data from a nationally representative sample of local special education administrators about preschool and school-age programs for children with disabilities ages 3-21. New survey data on IDEA implementation will be analyzed together with relevant information from State and Federal websites and from pre-exisiting surveys of SEAs and school districts. Data collection is scheduled to occur during the fall of 2008.

Duration: 30 months (September, 2007 to March, 2010)

Reports: The final report on this study will be announced on

Current Status: (August 2008) Contract was awarded in September 2007. An analysis plan and all surveys have been developed and an OMB package has been submitted.