History of LEAP
LEAP was created in response to research showing that Massachusetts low-income students are far more likely to be found eligible for special education services than other students. Additionally, low-income students who are identified as eligible are more likely to be educated in substantially separate settings. There is evidence that the best outcomes occur for students with disabilities who are most included with their non-disabled peers in school classes and activities. Therefore, both higher identification of low-income students and subsequent separation from the inclusive educational environment is concerning.
DESE is working collaboratively with a cohort of Massachusetts districts (LEAP districts), collaboratives and agencies to assess why disproportionality in special education identification and/or placement is occurring for low-income students and other vulnerable student subgroups inclusive of ELL students and students of color. These partners are conducting root cause and infrastructure analyses to identify, develop, and disseminate tools, technical assistance (TA), sustainable professional development, and other resources to ultimately support all Massachusetts districts.
LEAP has robust connections to other school improvement initiatives in the Department. It showcases the Department's commitment to collaboration with partners both inside and outside of the Department, thus expanding and deepening partnerships across Department offices and with sister agencies, school district personnel, and community members.