During the 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, the Office of Special Education Programs (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 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 and 2005 annual reports to Congress continued the format of the 2003 report and its focus on results and accountability. They updated the national picture based on state-reported data and information from OSEP's National Assessment of the Implementation of IDEA. 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.
On Dec. 3, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the reauthorized IDEA (P.L. 108-446). The provisions of the act became effective on July 1, 2005, with the exception of some of the elements pertaining to the definition of a "highly qualified teacher" that took effect upon the signing of the act. With reauthorization of IDEA, the nation reaffirmed its commitment to improving educational results for children and youth with disabilities. The 30th Annual Report to Congress will begin to present some of the data collected under the reauthorized act. In the meantime, the 28th and 29th reports are based on data collected under the IDEA reauthorized in 1997 (P.L. 105-17).
The 2006 or 28th Annual Report to Congress follows the 2005 or 27th Annual Report to Congress in sequence, and it follows the format of the 2004 and 2005 reports.
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. The National Picture
Section I contains the child- and student-focused material, presented in a question-and-answer format. It contains three subsections: (1) infants and toddlers served under IDEA, Part C; (2) children ages 3 through 5 served under IDEA, Part B; and (3) students ages 6 through 21 served under IDEA, Part B. Information available about each group of children or students is presented in the different subsections. Section I also incorporates information from ongoing national studies described in Data Sources Used in This Report, which begins on Page 1. To the extent possible, the data are presented through figures, short tables and bulleted text. Data are included for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the outlying areas (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands). In addition, data are presented on Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools for special education and related services provided under IDEA, Part B.
Section II. The State Picture
Section II of the report contains state-level performance data for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. 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 data. 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. In addition to data from all of the entities mentioned above for Section I, the Rank-Order tables include data for Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
Volume 2 of the 2006 Annual Report to Congress consists of tables that were compiled from data provided by the states. Such data are required under the law. In fact, the collection and analysis of these data are the primary means by which the Office of Special Education Programs monitors activities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), thereby helping to ensure the free appropriate public education of all children with disabilities.
The data tables in volume 2 cover a multitude of topics regarding states’ implementation of IDEA, Parts B and C. In the analysis of data presented in volume 1, there are frequent references to specific tables in volume 2 as sources. In that sense, volume 2 can be used as an appendix to volume 1. However, the tables in volume 2 provide much more extensive data than are referenced in volume 1. As such, they may be used by anyone interested in doing further analysis of state activities funded under IDEA.
The state-reported data tables in volume 2 of the 2006 Annual Report to Congress were developed using OSEP’s Data Analysis System (DANS). The latest data tables are posted on http://www.IDEAdata.org.
*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.