During the almost three decades that the annual reports to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have been published, these documents have undergone several minor stylistic changes and one major substantive redesign and refocus. In 1997, OSEP adopted a policy-oriented approach to the annual report to Congress. The results of this shift were first seen in the 1998 annual report, which used a four-section modular format. The 2002 Annual Report to Congress was the fifth and last volume to include four sections.
The implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act beginning in 2002 amplified the importance of accountability and results in the annual report to Congress. As the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education(1) pointed out, this emphasis means that Congress and the public must receive assurance that federal funds are well spent.
The 2003 Annual Report to Congress was redesigned to focus on results and accountability; make the report more useful to Congress, parents, each state and other stakeholders; and use a more readable and user-friendly style. It focused on key state performance data in accordance with the recommendations of the President's Commission.
The 2004 Annual Report to Congress continued this format. It updated the national picture from state-reported data and information from OSEP's National Assessment studies. The state profiles were revised to reflect OSEP's Government Performance and Results Act indicators and to provide a baseline for showing trends in states' data. The report provided rank-order tables used by OSEP's monitoring division and included the state-reported data tables.
The 2005 Annual Report to Congress also follows this format.
Volume 1 focuses on the children and students being served under IDEA and provides profiles of individual states' special education environments. It contains three sections.
Section I. Child/student-focused Material
Section I contains the child/student-focused material, presented in a question-and-answer format. It contains three subsections: infants and toddlers served under IDEA, Part C, children ages 3 to 5 served under IDEA, Part B, and students ages 6 through 21 served under IDEA, Part B. All information available about each group of children/students is presented in one section. Each subsection focuses on available results. To the extent possible, the data are presented through graphics, short tables(2) and bulleted text. Please note that throughout this report, the terms "infants and toddlers with disabilities," "children with disabilities" and "students with disabilities" refer to recipients of services under IDEA, Part C or B.
Section II. State Profiles
Section II of the report contains state-level performance data. These state profiles include number of school districts, public school enrollment, per-pupil expenditures and percentage of children living below the poverty level. For Part B, the profiles also report data for OSEP's performance goals for graduation and dropout. For Part C, the profiles include the lead agency for early intervention services and the number of infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services. The profiles also show the percentage of infants and toddlers served under Part C.
Section III. Rank-Order Tables
Section III presents tables of states rank-ordered by their reported data for exiting, dropout, educational environments, early intervention services and early intervention settings. OSEP uses these tables as part of its monitoring activities.
Volume 2. Data Tables
Volume 2 of the report contains the state-reported data tables developed from the Data Analysis System (DANS). OSEP's goal in separating the text of the report from the extensive tables is to make the report usable
1 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Their Families, Washington, D.C., 2002.
2 A number of figures and tables refer to data for the four outlying areas. These areas are American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.