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For Immediate Release: June 17, 2010
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

South Dakota gets high marks for Birth to 3, special education services

South Dakota is one of only 16 states to earn the highest ratings possible under both Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to information recently released by the U.S. Department of Education.

IDEA Part B monitors the effectiveness of special education services at the preschool and K-12 levels, while Part C refers to the state’s Birth to Three program, which serves younger children and their families.

South Dakota’s special education programs met the established targets on 16 of 18 public reporting areas required under Part B. The state demonstrated that it provides valid and reliable data and has high levels of compliance in the eight areas of the State Performance Plan.

The state must also keep track of determinations for each of the public school districts it serves. In South Dakota, all the public school districts met requirements as well. Nearly 18,000 children, between the ages of three and 21, received special education services from more than 150 school districts statewide.

“Our districts are a huge reason why the state met requirements. If it was not for their hard work and dedication, we would not have such high and accurate standards,” said Ann Larsen, director of the South Dakota Department of Education’s Special Education Programs.

The South Dakota Birth to 3 program is evaluated on 14 indicators under Part C of IDEA and had 100 percent compliance on federally mandated requirements. State Birth to 3 Director Susan Sheppick also said credit was due at the local level.

“The Birth to 3 program has 27 service coordinators statewide, and it is because of their hard work that we were able to hit these benchmarks,” Sheppick said.

During the reporting year, the South Dakota Birth to 3 program served approximately 2,000 children ages birth to three, who have developmental delays or disabilities. If further services are needed, the child will transition into Part B special education services at age three.