Excent, a company that provides educators with a broad set of software tools, has published an explanation of Results Driven Accountability (RDA), a US Department of Education framework to improve educational outcomes for the 6.5 million children and young people with disabilities.
The online publication is titled “The ABCs of RDA – Results Driven Accountability Explained.” The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has an almost 100% compliance record over the last decade, but the achievement outcomes for these students has not improved to the same extent.
Between 2009 and 2013, proficiency levels for students with disabilities decreased while non-disabled students’ levels have increased, making the gap even wider between the two groups. But in 2014, the DOE announced RDA and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) shifted from a system focused on compliance to a system that emphasized results.
RDA targets the educational performance and functional accomplishments for children with disabilities and balances them with compliance requirements of IDEA including equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.
Many states have had trouble fully implementing IDEA, but OSEP hopes to align all parts of accountability in a way that will assist states in improving results for all students with disabilities and their families through the use of seven principles.
First, the RDA system will partner with stakeholders such as chief state school officers, district superintendents, principals, special education facilitators, parents, and students. The RDA will become transparent and more understandable. It will push for improved outcomes for all children and will ensure the protection of the rights of each child or young person.
The new system will provide appropriate incentives, supports, and interventions based on each state’s unique needs and encourage states to direct their resources to the places and people that will have the greatest impact on students’ outcomes and the protection of each child’s rights.
Most importantly, the RDA system will be responsive to the needs of its clients, individuals with disabilities and their families.
The State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Reports (SPP/APR) will be one of the tools used to measure outcomes. It is to be submitted every six years to the Secretary of Education, with the SPP used to evaluate efforts to implement IDEA Part B. The APR will be sent to the Secretary of Education annually and will be based on the SPP.
State Identified Measurable Result (SIMR) is a state-created measure of student performance, and states are in the process of developing State Systematic Improvement Plans (SSIPs) which are being designed to improve results in targeted areas of learning.
The first phase of the SSIPs is discovering the problem and deciding why it is occurring. The second phase includes the explanation of what the state will do about necessary improvements. Phase three is an evaluation of whether the solution is working.
“Determinations” will be used to reflect state performance and compliance, and differentiated monitoring and support statewide will be initiated, but especially for poorly performing states.
The data accrued will provide evidence of strengths and weaknesses. The SSP will ensure that the allocation of necessary resources is accurate — resources such as teacher training, professional development, secondary transition, and legal requirements for IDEA.