Education: GAO Releases Report on Differences in IDEA Eligibility Between States

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report documenting the differences between states in rates of eligibility for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Eligibility for services for children ages 6 through 21 varied from 6.4% to 15.1%. The report attributed this variation to the flexibility provided to states by law. IDEA requires states to create their own policies and procedures for identifying children eligible for services. Additionally, the law allows states to adopt criteria for disability classification that are broader than the federal minimum. The report also notes that some school districts have difficulty identifying English language learners with disabilities due to a lack of staff who are fluent in the student’s native language.

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