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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2014

Special Education: Program Improvement
Fund Code: 274

Purpose: The purpose of the federally-funded Special Education: Program Improvement grant program is to fund professional development activities, aligned with the Massachusetts Standards for Professional Development, that will advance the knowledge, skills, and capacity of educators to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities, ages three through 21, in order to support improved educational results and functional outcomes for these students.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Download PDF document Download MS WORD document   and the Download PDF document Download MS WORD document  Conditions for School Effectiveness identify Professional Development as a foundational component in supporting, developing, promoting, and retaining qualified and effective professional staff who are successful in advancing achievement for all students.
Priorities: Professional Development activities funded under this priority are intended to improve effective implementation of the requirements and purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - Part B and promote a continuous cycle of improvement and Results Driven Accountability (RDA) by focusing on improvement strategies targeted to the priorities established in the Indicators identified by the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the State Performance Plan (SPP) and Annual Performance Report (APR).

Districts are directed to select up to two Indicators for the focus of FY2014 activities supported under Fund Code 274.

Professional Development activities must be aligned with the selected Indicator(s) and have clear goals and objectives relevant to desired student outcomes. The Indicators, and suggested topics for each, are described below.

Indicator 1: Graduation Rate
This indicator measures the number of students with IEPs who graduate in four years or less, divided by the number of first-time entering 9th graders in that cohort.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:

Indicator 2: Dropout Rate
This indicator measures the dropout rate for students with IEPs in grades 9-12 in Massachusetts public schools who leave school prior to graduation for reasons other than to transfer to another school, and do not re-enroll before the following October 1.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics: Indicator 3: Assessment
This indicator measures the participation and performance rates of students with IEPs on statewide assessments.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family Engagement
  • Assessment driven instruction with a goal of reducing proficiency gaps (especially use of Edwin Analytics)
  • Collaborations between special educators and mathematics, science, and/or literacy specialists to support student performance
  • Collaborations between educators to share resources for strengthening curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Standards-based teaching and learning
  • Differentiated curriculum and instruction
  • Educational Proficiency Plans
Indicator 4: Suspension and Expulsion
This indicator measures whether a district has significant discrepancy in the rates of suspension and expulsion for greater than 10 days in a school year for students with IEPs, including significant discrepancy by race or ethnicity. If there is significant discrepancy by race or ethnicity in a district, the district must review whether policies, procedures, or practices for IEP development and implementation, use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and procedural safeguards contribute to the significant discrepancy.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family Engagement
  • Implementation of the ESE Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Guidelines
  • Creating positive learning environments -classroom, school-wide, and district level
  • Bullying prevention and intervention
  • Social skills instructional practices
  • Truancy prevention - increasing school attendance for students with disabilities
  • Working with community-based and state agencies
  • Mental health supports and services
  • Wrap-around services
  • Effect of trauma on learning and behavior
  • Social, emotional, and behavioral assessments
Indicator 5: Educational Environments for Students Aged 6 - 21 with IEPs
This indicator measures the percentage of students ages six through 21 with IEPs served in full inclusion, partial inclusion, substantially separate placements, and separate schools, residential facilities, or homebound/hospital placements.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family Engagement
  • Inclusive practices for working with students with disabilities
  • Embedding related services within the classroom
  • Collaborations with educators, families, and community members to promote a most appropriate, least restrictive environment for student educational needs
  • Wrap-around services
  • Differentiated curriculum, instruction, and collaborative teaching
  • Collaborations between educators to share resources for strengthening curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Standards-based teaching and learning
  • District level collaboration between special educators and mathematics and/or reading specialists
  • Creating positive learning environments - classroom, school-wide, and district level
Indicator 6: Educational Environment for Students with IEPs (Ages 3 - 5)
This indicator measures the percentage of children ages three through five with IEPs served in full inclusion, partial inclusion, substantially separate placements, and those receiving services in the home, through a service provider, in separate schools, residential facilities, or homebound/hospital placements.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family engagement
  • Best practices for working with young children with disabilities in programs with typically developing peers, not limited to, but with special consideration for children with emotional impairment, Autism Spectrum disorders, and developmental delay
  • Embedding related services within the classroom
  • Collaborations between educators to share resources for strengthening curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Differentiated curriculum and instruction
  • Creating positive learning environments - classroom, school-wide, and district level
Indicator 7: Early Childhood Outcomes
This indicator measures the percent of children with IEPs ages three through five who demonstrate improved (a) positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships); (b) acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication and early literacy); and (c) use of appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Analysis of assessment data to monitor progress, inform classroom instruction, plan programming, and/or measure and evaluate progress
  • Family engagement
  • Creating positive learning environments - classroom, school-wide, and district level
  • Social skills instructional practices
  • Collaborations with state and community-based agencies
  • Mental health supports and services
  • Wrap-around services
  • Effect of trauma on learning and behavior
  • Social, emotional, and behavioral assessments
  • Early literacy
  • Child development
  • Tiered supports for young children
Indicator 8: Parent Involvement
This indicator measures the percentage of parents who report schools facilitated parent involvement as a means for improving services and results for students with disabilities.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family engagement with specific attention to support cultural, linguistic, disability, socioeconomic, and/or other aspects of family diversity (especially use of the Family, School, and Community Partnership Fundamentals)
  • Partnering with families during transition
  • Parent survey
  • Data analysis to improve services and results for students
  • Designing and disseminating best practices to engage families and parents
  • Improved outreach efforts
Indicator 9: Disproportionality in Special Education
This indicator measures the percentage of districts with disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education, and includes a secondary analysis to determine whether disproportionality was the result of inappropriate identification.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment with specific attention to cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and/or other aspects of diversity
  • Family engagement
  • Academic and/or social/emotional supports and interventions
  • Tiered systems of supports
  • Collaborations with state agencies regarding district transfer, the complexity of disproportionality, and the rate of initial evaluations
Indicator 10: Disproportionality in Specific Disability Categories
This indicator measures the percentage of districts with disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in specific disability categories, and includes a secondary analysis to determine if disproportionate representation was the result of inappropriate identification.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment with specific attention to cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and/or other aspects of diversity
  • Family engagement
  • Academic and/or social/emotional supports and interventions
  • Tiered systems of supports
  • Collaborations with state agencies regarding district transfer, the complexity of disproportionality and the rate of initial evaluations
Indicator 11: Effective General Supervision Part B/Child Find
In Massachusetts, this indicator measures the percentage of children who were evaluated within 30 days of receiving parental consent for initial evaluation.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family engagement
  • Academic and/or social/emotional supports and interventions with progress monitoring to minimize unnecessary referrals
  • Tiered system of supports
  • Writing IEPs that align the student's annual IEP goals, course of study, and transition services with both his/her postsecondary vision and his/her disability-related needs.
  • Collaborations with families to support children and parents through evaluation and eligibility processes
  • Collaborations with educators and specialists regarding initial evaluation testing administration and reporting
Indicator 12: Early Childhood Transition
This indicator measures the percentage of students referred by Part C, found eligible for special education services, and who have an IEP developed and implemented by their 3rd birthdays.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family engagement
  • Transition practices from Early Intervention (Part C) to special education (Part B) (e.g., interagency collaboration)
  • Collaborations with state and community-based agencies
  • Alignment and coordination of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in inclusive classrooms
  • Identify best practices to support students
  • Analysis of best practices and outcomes
  • Effective, engaging, and developmentally appropriate designed programs
  • Transition assessments
  • Collaborations with families to support children and parents through transitions
Indicator 13: Secondary Transition
In Massachusetts, Secondary Transition planning begins at age 14. Per IDEA, this indicator measures the percentage of students with IEPs, ages 16 and above, who have appropriate transition planning that is in compliance with requirements of federal special education law.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Transition assessments
  • Family engagement
  • Student self-determination (especially student-directed IEPs)
  • Student self-advocacy and associated social skills
  • Writing IEPs that align the student's annual IEP goals, course of study, and transition services with the student's postsecondary vision and disability-related needs
  • Collaborations with Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Mental Health (DMH), Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), and/or Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
  • Collaborations with families to support students and parents through Transition
  • Connecting Activities (incorporating use of the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan)
  • Empowering students to own their educational success, using Individual Learning Plans and online resources such as Your Plan for the Future
Indicator 14: Post-School Outcomes
This indicator measures the percentage of students with IEPs who exited high school during a given school year and self-reported post-school engagement in education or employment one year after leaving high school.
All professional development in this indicator area must align with one or more of the following topics:
  • Assessment
  • Family engagement
  • Collaborations with in-district partners participating in whole-school programs and initiatives such as MassGrad, the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS), Your Plan for the Future, dual enrollment, etc.
  • Collaborations with guidance counselors
  • Collaborations with local college/university professionals
  • Ensuring student access to inclusive honors, AP, or other advanced classes
  • Ensuring student understanding of the post-secondary educational system, including the culture, conventions, and norms of the higher education system
  • Collaborations with state agencies such as MRC, DDS, DMH, MCB, MCDHH
  • Collaborations with career centers, employers, workforce investment boards, and other community-based organizations
  • Collaborations with in-district partners participating in Connecting Activities and other employment initiatives (incorporating use of the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan)
  • Development of student career opportunities with a focus on career awareness (building awareness of a broad range of occupations)
  • Development of student career opportunities with a focus on career exploration (in-depth exposure to career options)
  • Development of student career opportunities with a focus on career immersion (structured work and learning experiences)
Eligibility: Funds will be awarded to public school districts with approved program plans for special education on file with the Department and to educational collaboratives serving students with disabilities.
Funding: Eligible public school districts and educational collaboratives serving students with disabilities will receive awards based upon their total public school student enrollment.

The amount of funds for which each school district may apply is available on the Grant Allocations & Awards website.

The amount of funds for which collaboratives may apply is available on the Department's website.
Fund Use: The following are allowable costs:
  • Stipends
  • MTRS/Fringe (related to stipends only)
  • Tuition cost for college/university courses
  • Conference registration
  • Supplies, materials, and books specifically for training purposes and professional development
  • Printing and reproduction of training materials
  • Consultant fees
  • Substitutes
  • Travel for professional development activities
The following are not allowable costs:
  • Computer hardware or software, including site licenses
  • Indirect costs
  • Staff salaries
  • Direct services or materials for students
  • Advertising
Fund Code 274 is a grant made available from federal IDEA-Part B funds. Proposed activities must target students with IEPs.
Project Duration: Upon Approval - 8/31/2014
Program Unit: Special Education Planning and Policy Development
Contact: Helen Skulski email address: Hskulski@doe.mass.edu
Phone Number: (781) 338-3379
Date Due: A rolling submission period has been established, but the suggested due date is Monday, September 30. No applications will be accepted after Friday, December 20.
Required Forms:
  1.  Download MS EXCEL file  Part II - Budget Detail Pages - Special Education: Program Improvement - Budget Workbook, which includes the Part I - General - Program Unit Signature Page - (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants)
  2. Part III - Required Program Information (up to two Indicators)
    1. Download PDF document Download MS WORD document  Principal Indicator Focus
    2. Download PDF document Download MS WORD document  Optional Additional Indicator Focus
Additional Information:
  1. Download PDF document Download MS WORD document  Instructions for Completing the Budget Workbook
  2. During the 2013-2014 school year, staff from the Department's Office of Special Education Planning and Policy (SEPP) may conduct onsite visits to or seek additional information about professional development programs funded under Fund Code 274 from randomly selected districts and collaboratives that are representative of the state. Information collected through onsite visits or follow up communications will be used by SEPP to inform its work on behalf of students with disabilities and in support of educators in the Commonwealth.
Submission Instructions: Submit two (2) sets, each with an original signature of the Superintendent or Executive Director.

Mail to:

Helen Skulski
Special Education Planning and Policy Development
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906


Last Updated: November 13, 2013
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