Ohio's Special Education Determination

Every year, each state receives a rating on its implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), known as its determination. The U.S. Department of Education uses both procedural compliance and student results data, giving each equal weight, to evaluate each state’s performance. These data result in one of four determinations — Meets Requirements, Needs Assistance, Needs Intervention or Needs Substantial Intervention.

Ohio is one of 38 states and territories receiving a 2022 determination of Needs Assistance, as detailed in this letter  and scoring matrix . This document contains additional details about how the U.S. Department of Education calculated 2022 determinations.

Ohio received Needs Assistance for the third consecutive year, due to high rates of students with disabilities:

  • Graduating by meeting modified requirements (i.e., receiving a diploma through excusal from one or more graduation requirements); and
  • Dropping out of high school.

Ohio’s lowest scoring measures continue to be the percentage of students with disabilities who graduate by meeting the same requirements as students without disabilities and the percentage of students with disabilities dropping out. Ohio’s 58% graduation rate for students with disabilities for the class of 2020 was the fifth lowest in the nation. Ohio’s 17% dropout rate for students with disabilities in 2020 was in the top third of all states and territories.

As required by IDEA, the U.S. Department of Education takes enforcement actions for states beginning with the second consecutive year of Needs Assistance. The federal Office of Special Education Programs has advised Ohio of technical assistance resources, encouraging the state to access technical assistance to address its lowest scoring areas of graduation and dropout and requiring the state to report on the technical assistance it received and the actions the state took as a result of that assistance. Additionally, Ohio must notify the public that the U.S. Department of Education has taken these actions.  

Improvement Efforts

In partnership with stakeholders, the Department is implementing a number of improvement efforts with the potential to improve graduation rates and decrease dropout rates for Ohio’s students with disabilities:

  1. In March 2021, the Office for Exceptional Children released Each Child Means Each Child: Ohio’s Plan to Improve Learning Experiences and Outcomes for Students with Disabilities. This plan includes a focus on improved postsecondary transition and outcomes.

  2. In June 2021, the Office for Exceptional Children released the 11 District Plan in response to the Doe Settlement. Though the plan outlines increased supports from the Ohio Department of Education for students with disabilities in 11 targeted districts, the resources and other supports developed will be available statewide. Activities include, but are not limited to, school and family training on graduation requirements and development of a Graduation Decision Framework.

  3. The Office for Exceptional Children’s next State Systemic Improvement Plan will focus on improving graduation rates and decreasing dropout rates for students with disabilities.

  4. The Ohio Department of Education received a Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant to develop an Early Warning System and a Progress Toward Graduation reporting system within the Ohio District Data Exchange.

  5. With support from the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition Collaborative, the Office for Exceptional Children is leading a state cross-agency initiative entitled Establishing Families as Partners in the Secondary Transition Planning Process.

  6. The Ohio Department of Education and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities have developed an interagency agreement to increase access to vocational rehabilitation services starting at age 14. The initiative is called the Ohio Transition Support Partnership.

  7. The Office for Exceptional Children has contracted with the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence to develop an Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment Tool as a resource for individualized education program teams to develop appropriate postsecondary goals and transition services for students with disabilities.


Supportive State Legislation

  1. Ohio’s graduation requirements for the class of 2023 offer multiple pathways to graduation. Ohio’s newly adopted graduation requirements provide greater flexibility and acknowledge that students can demonstrate competency and readiness through a variety of mechanisms.

  2. Per Ohio Law, all students in grades 9-12 in Ohio are required to have graduation plans in place.

  3. Per Ohio Law, districts must have a policy in place to identify students who are at-risk for not meeting graduation requirements and to develop intervention plans.

  4. Per House Bill 410, each school district must have a chronic absenteeism policy.




District Special Education Ratings

After receiving Ohio’s annual determination, the Ohio Department of Education makes determinations of each district’s special education program, known in Ohio as Special Education Ratings.  


Last Modified: 10/28/2022 9:02:05 AM