In response to the U.S. Department of Education's new results-driven accountability initiative, CEC's comments were included in several national and trade publications. 

Check out exclusive members-only content about what this means for you in CEC Today.

PLUS:  We asked some CEC leaders this question:  What ideas do you have to improve instruction for students with disabilities?  Read their answers and suggestions for how you can learn more.

WSJ Logo

"This is a significant step forward," said Kim Hymes, senior director for policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children, a nonprofit professional organization of educators. "In our experience special educators have been frustrated by the sole focus on compliance, such as crossing t's and dotting i's when special education is all about looking at the individual students, looking at their needs and making accommodations to make sure those needs are met."

"But what this information gives us today is a broad sense of how things are going generally," she said. "My only concern would be if people try to look at this on ground level."


Kim Hymes, senior director of policy and advocacy services for the Council for Exceptional Children, says it's "refreshing" to see how students are faring across the country and that it's important to identify which states, districts and schools are struggling to get disabled students to positive outcomes, so agencies know how and where to invest their improvement efforts.

"We know that states have done a yeoman’s job at trying to comply with IDEA, and that is reflected in the data that was released today," Hymes says. "This data tells us that educators, families, consumer groups need to have a better understanding of how students with disabilities learn and then make sure our educational system is providing them with the tools and the resources they need to thrive."

The federal role in solving the problem, she says, is to provide technical and financial support to help schools. Any punitive approach, such as withholding funding, "would certainly be counterintuitive to what this data should really be telling us," Hymes says.

politico pro

The Education Department’s new system for measuring states’ services for students with disabilities is a “huge improvement” over the old system, said Kimberly Hymes, senior director of [policy & advocacy at] the Council for Exceptional Children.

Hymes said she hopes the new system will lead to better instruction for these students in the future.

“When we look at assessment data, the first thing we think about is: How do we improve instruction to make sure that students with disabilities are able to perform better on these assessments?” Hymes said.

Hymes also hopes there won’t be a “punitive approach” taken towards the many states that are now rated as needing assistance or intervention in the new system. The CEC was pleased “overall” with the data points that the Department of Education chose for the new system, Hymes said.


Kim Hymes, the senior director of policy for the Council for Exceptional Children, said the shift was "significant" for states. The department noted that under the previous method of evaluating states, most would have fallen into the "meets requirements" category.

"The approach the department has taken is a step in the right direction," she said. "But we want to make sure we do something really useful with the information that was released today, and that it serves as a trigger to look deeper into the data."

special ed connection

The new approach also was hailed by Kim Hymes, senior director for policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children.

"What it points to is that there are states that have ... mastered how to be compliant with IDEA," she said, "but when you combine [that with] some of the outcomes data points, you have a fuller picture of how students with disabilities are being served."