Thursday, November 6, 2008

OSEP Alters SPP Indicators - You Can Comment

The agency charged with making sure that states enforce the special education law, the Office of Special Education Programs has revised state performance plan (SPP) indicators. these are the data that states submit to demonstrate compliance with IDEA. You can read them here:

They have been published in the federal register and the federal OMB is receiving comments.

I have always been amazed at the SPP indicators. I think that the current NCLB-inspired theory that everything can be reduced to data and measured or assessed has hit its odd high point here. I particularly don't like the SPP indicators as to dispute resolution. All that states are assessed on is the percentage of settlements in mediations and resolution sessions (indicators 18 and 19) and compliance with timelines for due process complaints and state complaint procedures(indicators 16 and 17). That's it. So a state could have the worst mediators, complaint investigators and hearing officers in the world, not trained to meet the IDEA requirements as to qualifications, never get a determination right, or worse even be in the pocket of one party or the other and still pass muster with the federal regulatory agency if timelines are met and settlement rates are high. There is also no attempt to measure the wealth/income level of those who access these and other procedural safeguards. (Many of us suspect that all procedural safeguards are accessed predominantly by wealthier parents.) The SPP indicators for dispute resolution seem absurd. The previous round of comments about SPP indicators resulted in 37 pages of analysis by OSEP, yet almost none of it related to the dispute resolution indicators.

The deadline for comments is November 21, 2008. To comment, you send an email to: or you can send via fax to (202) 395-6974. If you wish to send written comments, they should be addressed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: Education Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street, NW., Room 10222, Washington, DC 20503. Commenters should include the following subject line in their response "Comment: collection #3870, IDEA Part B State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report."


  1. Thank you Gerl for your informative insightful post regarding SPP reporting revisions. Being that I live in a state where it is virtually impossible for any child with a disability to receive impartial mediators/resolution facilitators and hearing officers, I am deeply concerned as well that OSEP's monitoring requirements fail when it comes to IDEA's mandate of impartial mediators/resolution facilitators and hearing officers. What good would it do for a child to have a "timely" but impartial mediation/resolution or hearing? It just ends up that the state is really expedient in dueling out injustice. I have talked personally with our state's OSEP representative and they continually state that it is not OSEP's responsibility to ensure or monitor impartiality/partiality. They state that it is up to the parents through litigation to resolve and correct this problem. Costly and exhausting if you ask me.

  2. Private residential facilities and detention centers receive the least oversight yet these places are where the state is also the parent so the oversight by the Federal Government needs to replace that of the state (who guards the guards’ problem). This coupled with OSEP can not independently confirm the data that the states give them makes reliability of that data suspect at best. I will call and confirm what my teenager tells me with their teacher, if they are telling me the truth then it shouldn’t be a problem - shouldn't OSEP follow these steps as well?

  3. Thank you both for your comments.