Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to monitor the implementation of the IDEA in their states, to enforce the IDEA regulations, make annual determinations about the performance of each public education agency (PEA) in their states, and report annually on the performance of the State and each public education agency (PEA). [34 C.F.R. § 300.600(a)]
Under the IDEA, each state department of education has general supervisory authority regarding the provision of special education to eligible students in the state. ESS Program Specialists, who act as liaisons between ESS and districts/charters, provide training activities, monitor for compliance with IDEA regulations and AZ special education rules, and provide technical assistance to schools. ESS also provides professional learning opportunities, annual conferences on a variety of topics, and enforces the mandates of the IDEA.
The regulations that implement the IDEA state that the primary focus of the State’s monitoring activities must be on improving the educational results and functional outcomes for all children with disabilities, and ensuring that public agencies meet the program requirements under Part B of the IDEA (age 3-21), with a particular emphasis on those requirements that are most closely related to improving educational results for children with disabilities. [34 C.F.R. § 300.600(b)]
The regulations that implement the IDEA require states to monitor schools using quantifiable indicators to adequately measure performance in the following areas: the provision of a FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE); the exercise of general supervision, including the following: child find; effective monitoring; the use of resolution meetings; mediation; a system of transition services as defined in § 300.43; and the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and related services, to the extent the representation is the result of inappropriate identification. [34 C.F.R. § 300.600(d)]
The regulations that implement the IDEA require states to have a performance plan that evaluates the state’s efforts to implement the requirements and purposes of the IDEA, and that describes how the state will improve its implementation of the requirements of the IDEA.
According to the requirements of the IDEA regulations, states must establish measurable and rigorous targets and collect valid and reliable information as needed to report annually on the indicators established by the US Secretary of Education. [34 C.F.R. § 300.601] States must use the targets established in the SPP under §300.601 and the priority areas described in § 300.600(d) to analyze the performance of each public education agency (PEA) in the state. [34 C.F.R. § 300.602(a)]
Districts Meeting Annual Yearly Progress (AYP)
Participation for Students with IEPs
Proficiency for Students with IEPs
Suspension and Expulsion
Educational Environments (children 6-21)
Parent Outcomes Survey
Early Childhood Transition
State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP)
Based on information provided in the state’s annual performance report (APR), information obtained through monitoring visits, and any other public information made available, the Secretary determines if the state meets the requirements and purposes of Part B of the IDEA, needs assistance in implementing these requirements, needs intervention in implementing these requirements, or needs substantial intervention in implementing these requirements. [34 C.F.R. § 300.603(d)]
Frequently Asked Questions - Parents
ESS is the section of ADE responsible for ensuring that public education agencies in Arizona have special education programs, policies, and procedures that comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations, and that eligible children and youth with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
There are three ways to seek assistance:
Raising Special Kids (RSK) - RSK is a nonprofit parent organization that provides support and information for parents of children with a full range of disabilities and health care needs from birth to age 26. Programs are offered at no cost to families and are available in English and Spanish. RSK has a toll-free help line (1-888-877-5910) for parents, which is staffed by trained and knowledgeable specialists.
Contact Your School's Program Specialist - Program Support and Monitoring program specialists are assigned to each Arizona district and charter school to provide program assistance. Program specialists offer technical assistance and monitor special education programs in school districts and charter schools throughout the state. To contact the person assigned to your school, click on ESS program specialist caseload list to launch a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with the list of currently assigned specialists and how to contact them.
Email or call ESS front desk to be directed to the assistance needed:
The ESS specialist provides technical assistance to the local schools regarding state and federal special education requirements. Specialists also monitor districts and charters to ensure the special education programs provided are in compliance with requirements.
Each child found eligible for special education has an IEP, which is a document that identifies the services that will be provided, the goals that the services will target, the setting in which the services will occur, and the amount of time the services will be provided.
IDEA gives parents specific rights with regard to special education. These rights are outlined in the procedural safeguards notice that can be found at:
IDEA and its implementing regulations require States to have in effect three processes to assist parents of a child with a disability and their schools in resolving special education–related issues. Specifically, States must offer:
a mediation system;
a due process hearing system; and
a state administrative complaint system.
Information on each of these processes can be found on the Arizona Department of Education Dispute Resolution website.
As part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '04), ESS is required to report how well schools facilitate parent involvement in order to improve services and results for children with disabilities. This data is gathered from parents of children with disabilities through the Parent Involvement Survey and is published in Arizona’s Annual Performance Report (APR)). For more information about the survey, e-mail Parent Involvement Survey or call (928) 637-1871.
Students with disabilities who have been placed by their parents in a private school as a matter of choice have no individual entitlement to receive a FAPE, but may be entitled to some special education services provided by the local school district under the “proportionate share” requirement. If an IEP team determines that a private school is the most appropriate, least restrictive setting for a child with a disability, that placement is made at no cost to the parent.
Contact the school district in which you live or, if your child is already in school, contact the school district or charter school the child attends. Children aged birth to 2 years 10½ months will be referred to the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) for eligibility determination. Children older than 2 years 10½ months are screened and, if necessary, evaluated by the school district or charter school. For more information about the referral process, e-mail AZFIND Inbox or call (928) 679-8106.
Public education agencies (PEAs) are required to verify the count of students participating in special education (SPED) on October 1, 2020. Verification will be completed via the web-based ESS October 1 Data Collection application, available through the ESS Portal via ADEConnect.