Special Education Data Reporting

Public Reporting

What is the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires every state to develop a State Performance Plan (SPP). The SPP describes how states are improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities and complying with the IDEA. Pennsylvania's first Part B SPP (applicable to students ages 3-21) was approved by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in March 2006. Originally designed as a six-year plan, states have expanded their plans through Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019. Pennsylvania's SPP is developed with significant input from the State Special Education Advisory Panel and other stakeholders.

The SPP is based upon federally mandated indicators of compliance and performance. Each indicator includes baseline data and annual measurable and rigorous targets. Consistent with OSEP's new Results Driven Accountability system, in 2015 states added a State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) to their SPP. Pennsylvania's SSIP is focusing significant resources on improving graduation rates for students with disabilities.

What are the annual reporting requirements?

Previously, states were required to submit both an SPP and an Annual Performance Report (APR) that described the state's status in meeting SPP targets. Effective in 2015, states began submitting a combined SPP/APR that covers both planning and reporting functions.

The SPP/APR also includes requirements for public reporting. States must report annually to the public on:

  1. The state's progress or slippage in meeting the measurable and rigorous targets of the SPP/APR
  2. The performance of each school district, charter school, and preschool early intervention program in the state on meeting the targets.

Pennsylvania addresses the state level reporting requirements by posting and disseminating its SPP/APR to the public. The most recent SPP/APR approved by OSEP is posted online at www.education.state.pa.us and www.pattan.net.

Performance of each Local Education Agency (LEA) in the state on several indicators is reported through the Special Education Data Reports (SEDRs). For the 2019-20 SEDRs states must publicly report on the following school age indicators:

Indicator 1 Graduation rates
Indicator 2 Dropout rates
Indicator 3 Student participation and performance on statewide assessments
Indicator 4 Suspension and expulsion rates
Indicator 5 Educational placement (Least Restrictive Environment, or LRE)
Indicator 8 School facilitated parent involvement
Indicator 9 Disproportionate representation by race/ethnicity
Indicator 10 Disproportionate representation by race/ethnicity in disability categories
Indicator 11 Timelines for initial evaluation
Indicator 13 IEP postsecondary transition goals and services
Indicator 14 Postsecondary outcomes

Note: Public reporting on SPP indicators pertaining to services for preschool children is done by the Bureau of Early Intervention Services and Family Supports. These reports are available at: https://penndata.hbg.psu.edu/Public-Reporting/Early-Intervention.

How are data for reporting LEA performance obtained?

For indicator 1 (graduation rates), four year adjusted cohort graduation data are collected through the Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS) as are indicators 2 (dropout rates), 5 (educational environment), and 9 and 10 (disproportionate representation). Data for indicator 4 (suspension and expulsion rates) are collected through the Special Education Data Reporting system. Information on compliance with timelines for initial evaluation of students to determine eligibility for special education (indicator 11) is collected from LEAs on a cyclical basis through a submission to Penn State Data Center. The Special Education Data Reporting system ensures accuracy of local and state data through a series of edit checks and other verification procedures.

Data for indicator 3 (student participation and performance on statewide assessments) are collected and reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of the State Student Assessment Measures Dashboard, for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Student results from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), grades 3-8; Keystone Exams, grade 11; and the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA), grades 3-8 and 11; are used to report on this Indicator.

School facilitated parent involvement data (indicator 8) are collected through a parent survey conducted in approximately one-fifth of the LEAs in the state each year. Data for indicator 13 (IEP postsecondary transition goals and services) are collected through cyclical monitoring conducted on-site in school districts and charter schools by the Bureau of Special Education (BSE). Finally, postsecondary education and/or employment data (indicator 14) are collected through a post school outcomes survey conducted in approximately one-fifth of the LEAs in the state each year.

How are the indicators defined?

Graduation Rates (Indicator 1) Beginning with the 2013-14 SEDRs, BSE has aligned graduation reporting with the Federal requirement to report cohort graduation rates. The cohort graduation rate reporting requirement continues under ESSA. Cohort rates calculate the number of students that graduate in a given year with a regular diploma, divided by the number of high school students who entered four years earlier, with adjustments each year for students who transfer in and out. A student who graduates in more than four years is counted as a non-graduate in the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate. Pennsylvania is also collecting data on 5-year and 6-year cohort rates. The most currently reported cohort graduation rates and performance on targets for each LEA may be viewed by clicking on the link to https://public.tableau.com/profile/padeptofed#!/vizhome/ESSA_Dashboard_2020/2018AnnualMeaningfulDifferentiationCSIA-TSI.

It is important for stakeholders to be aware that, consistent with federal regulations and the Pennsylvania School Code, LEAs offer a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities until graduation from high school or age 21. Federal child count data shows that in Pennsylvania nearly 5,500 students with disabilities 19 years of age or older are exercising their right to remain in school. Based on historical data trends, it is reasonable to conclude that most of these students will ultimately graduate, although not always within the timelines defined in cohort reporting requirements.

Dropout Rates (Indicator 2) is the percentage of students with disabilities, ages 14-21, who exited school by dropping out in a given year. Pennsylvania uses an OSEP formula for calculating this rate. That formula is: the number of dropouts, divided by the sum of the number of graduates plus the number of students who received a GED, plus the number of dropouts, plus those that reached maximum age, plus any students that died, times 100.

In accordance with OSEP instructions and state reporting timelines, data displayed for indicators 1 and 2 are lagged a year. A few LEAs do not have graduation and/or dropout rates displayed on their SEDR, usually because they do not serve secondary students.

Student Participation and Performance on Statewide Assessments (Indicator 3) Comprehensive reports on state and LEA performance are found at: https://public.tableau.com/profile/padeptofed#!/vizhome/ESSA_Dashboard_2019/2018AnnualMeaningfulDifferentiationCSIA-TSI. These reports display the most current data compared with the goals set by federal and state accountability requirements. The participation rate of students with disabilities in state assessments is also shown.

States are required, under §300.160 (f) of IDEA regulations, to publicly report the assessment accommodations provided to students with disabilities, along with the performance observed. Accommodations for each student are limited to those described on his or her IEP, and include such things as the provision of Braille assessments, presentation and response options and changes in the assessment setting. Student participation and performance on statewide assessments using accommodations can be found at https://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/K-12/Special%20Education/Assessment/Statewide%20Assessment%20Performance%20by%20Students%20with%20IEPs%20by%20Accommodation.pdf.

However, the statewide student assessment program was suspended for the 2019-20 school year due to mandatory school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) approved Pennsylvania’s request to waive the federal assessment requirement for the 2019-20 school year, along with accountability and certain reporting requirements based on data derived from the 2019-20 school year. Therefore, Indicator 3 data are not available to be displayed in the 2019-20 Special Education Data Report (SEDR).

Suspension and Expulsion Rates (Indicators 4A and 4B) Indicator 4A is the number of LEAs that have a significant discrepancy in their rate of out of school suspension and expulsion of children with disabilities for greater than 10 days in a school year. A school district or charter school will be identified on its 2019-20 SEDR as not meeting the SPP target for indicator 4A if it suspended students greater than two times the state baseline rate of 0.55%.

Indicator 4B is the number of LEAs that have a significant discrepancy, by race/ethnicity, in the rate of out of school suspension and expulsion of children with disabilities for greater than 10 days in a school year and have policies, procedures or practices that contribute to the discrepancy and do not comply with regulatory requirements. A significant discrepancy is determined through a statistical analysis that considers a variety of factors, including the number of suspensions compared to statewide rates. The BSE conducts onsite monitoring of the LEA’s policies, procedures and practices to determine compliance. A district or charter school will be identified on its 2019-20 SEDR as not meeting the SPP target for indicator 4B if the statistical analysis found a significant discrepancy by race/ethnicity in suspension rates and BSE’s onsite monitoring found noncompliance with regulatory requirements.

Please note that as per OSEP instructions, data for indicators 4A and 4B are lagged one year. Therefore, 2019-20 SEDR reporting is based on data collected in July 2019 from the 2018-19 school year.

Educational Placement - LRE (Indicator 5) Data are derived from students’ IEPs. The percentage of students assigned to each of three settings must be reported. These are: percentage of children with IEPs aged 5 through 21 who are: (a) served inside the regular class 80% or more of the day; (b) served inside the regular class less than 40% of the day; (c) served in separate schools, residential facilities, or homebound/ hospital placements.

School Facilitated Parent Involvement (Indicator 8) Pennsylvania is using a large-scale survey developed and validated by the National Center for Special Education Accountability Monitoring (NCSEAM) to collect these data. Each year, parents of school-aged students with disabilities in approximately one-fifth of the state’s LEAs receive the NCSEAM survey by mail and are asked to complete it. The survey consists of 25 questions designed to measure schools’ efforts to partner with parents. Results are compiled and calculated by independent experts. Survey results for those LEAs included in the 2020 cycle are presented on the 2019-20 SEDRs unless no responses were received. Also provided on the SEDR is a confidence interval to help explain the calculated score obtained from the NCSEAM Parent Survey. A 95% confidence interval was selected, meaning that we can be 95% confident that the true score on this measure for the LEA falls within that interval. The calculated score for each LEA is different from the true score an LEA would have received if all the surveys distributed to parents in that LEA were completed and returned for analysis. When more parents respond to the survey, we have more confidence that the calculated score represents the general opinion of all parents of students with disabilities, and the confidence interval becomes narrower. When fewer surveys are returned for an LEA, we have less confidence in the result, and the interval needed to reach the desired 95% level of confidence becomes wider. Questions regarding the NCSEAM Survey may be addressed to Barbara Mozina, Special Education Adviser, at bmozina@pa.gov

Disproportionate Representation by Race/Ethnicity (Indicator 9) This indicator reports whether there is disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups receiving special education and related services as the result of inappropriate identification. A number of states, including Pennsylvania, use a Weighted Risk Ratio (WRR), to make these calculations. The BSE analyzes LEA data annually. When disproportionate representation is identified using the WRR formula, the BSE conducts onsite focused monitoring to determine whether it is the result of inappropriate identification.

Disproportionate Representation by Race/Ethnicity in Specific Disability Categories (Indicator 10) This indicator reports whether there is disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in specific disability categories as the result of inappropriate identification. The BSE analyzes LEA data annually. When disproportionate representation is identified using the WRR formula, the BSE conducts onsite focused monitoring to determine whether it is the result of inappropriate identification.

Timelines for Initial Evaluation (Indicator 11) This indicator addresses the degree to which LEAs conduct timely evaluations of students to determine their eligibility for special education. The timelines apply only to initial evaluations, not reevaluations. State regulations require that school districts and charter schools conduct initial evaluations within 60 calendar days (excluding summer breaks) of receiving written parental consent. The LEA rate on the SEDR is the overall percentage of students that were evaluated by the LEA within the required timeline, including those determined to be eligible for special education and those determined not eligible. Data for this indicator are collected and reported cyclically for approximately one-sixth of the state’s LEAs.

IEP Postsecondary Transition Goals and Services (Indicator 13) These data are collected through BSE cyclical monitoring. Only those LEAs that had cyclical monitoring during 2019-20 will have data reported on their 2019-20 SEDR. To determine an LEA’s compliance level, students eligible for secondary transition are selected by the BSE as part of a stratified random sample of students with disabilities within the LEA. Student records are reviewed to determine whether the LEA has complied with regulatory requirements for IEP process and content. The LEA rate displayed on the SEDR is the percentage of compliance found during the onsite monitoring for eight specific secondary transition requirements. The LEA must correct all noncompliance within one year of notification of noncompliance. The BSE monitors LEAs to ensure timely correction.

Postsecondary Education and/or Employment (Indicator 14) This indicator addresses the extent to which students are engaged in education and/or employment after high school. Once, over a five-year cycle, each school district and charter school is required to survey all student leavers who had IEPs (graduates, dropouts and students that reached maximum age.) Indicator 14 encompasses three cumulative targets that measure the percent of youth who are no longer in secondary school, had Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) in effect at the time they left school, and were:

  1. Enrolled in higher education within one year of leaving high school.
  2. Enrolled in higher education or competitively employed within one year of leaving high school.
  3. Enrolled in higher education or in some other postsecondary education or training program; or competitively employed or in some other employment within one year of leaving high school.

The Pennsylvania Post School Outcome Survey (PaPOS) is used to gather these data. The sampling process used to assign each LEA to one of the five years of the cycle ensures that the LEAs selected each year are representative of the Commonwealth as a whole. Results for those LEAs included in the 2018 survey are presented on the 2019-20 SEDRs.

How do you interpret the Special Education Data Reports?

The data displays for each indicator are user-friendly and easily understandable. Generally, these include:

  • SPP Target – the target that was established in the SPP for 2019-20;
  • State Data - the 2019-20 statewide performance for LEAs;
  • LEA Data - the 2019-20 performance for that LEA; and
  • A Conclusion - whether the LEA met the target.

For some LEAs, data for certain indicators are not reported on the SEDR due to the small size of the student population or sample (n=10 or less). Federal regulations require that states shall not report to the public any information on performance that would result in the disclosure of personally identifiable information about individual students or where the available data are insufficient to yield statistically reliable information, i.e. the numbers are too small.