Prepare for Impact: 3 Key Questions About RDA for Every SPED Administrator (Webinar Recap)

IDEA has undoubtedly done much to define the rights and expand access to education for students with disabilities. For example, IDEA’s Child Find requirement has resulted in early identification and effective interventions for millions of children with special needs, improving their chances for positive outcomes. In addition, federal IDEA funds have enabled school districts to build the needed capacity to serve children with wide-ranging disabilities. The rights of children and their families are being protected and filings for due process are actually on the decline.

However, until recently, accountability within special education has focused on procedural compliance with IDEA rather than student achievement. While most states have attained procedural compliance, a stubborn achievement gap persists between students with IEPs and all other students.

Looking at attributes like reading and math proficiency as well as graduation rates, it is clear that something more needs to be done.

% of Students with IEPs with a “Proficient Score”

% of All Other Students with a “Proficient Score”





4th grade





8th grade





12th grade





Graduation Rate

US Total Graduation Rates for all Students with Disabilities

Source: OSEP

Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) is the next step in the evolution of special education, shifting our national focus from procedural compliance to student learning outcomes. The purpose of RDA is not to do away with compliance requirements, but rather to maintain them and to increase the emphasis of monitoring and reporting requirements toward determining whether special services for students with disabilities are effective in improving educational and functional outcomes for students.

Starting in March 2014, Phase 1 of RDA requires the following steps for states:

  1. Data Analysis – analyzing key data to select the SIMR for students with disabilities and determining the cause for low performance
  2. Infrastructure Analysis – analyzing the capacity of the current system to support improvement and build capacity to implement, scale up, and sustain evidence-based practices
  3. State-Identified Measurable Result (SIMR) – describes the result the state wants to achieve based on previous analysis (must be declared by April 1, 2015)
  4. Coherent Improvement Strategies – describes the improvement strategies on which the state will focus, which will lead to a measurable, child-based result
  5. Theory of Action – describes the general improvement strategies that will need to be carried out and outcomes that will need to be met to achieve the state’s goals

But what does all of this mean for districts? In his webinar, “Prepare for Impact: 3 Key Questions About RDA for Every SPED Administrator,” (on which this summary is based), Dr. Alan Counter encouraged districts to think about the following questions:

  • What challenges do you see and what resources do you need in addressing RDA?
  • What are the public political implications in your community for RDA?
  • What are the opportunities and accomplishments on which you can build in your district for students with disabilities?

To learn more about RDA, click here to watch the webinar. How do you see RDA affecting your district? Drop us a line in the Comments to share your questions, concerns, and ideas.