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For Immediate Release
Monday, July 19, 2004
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Massachusetts Awarded $3.4 Million Federal Special Education Grant

MALDEN -

Massachusetts has been awarded a three-year, $3.4 million federal grant to develop professional development programs to help ensure students with disabilities develop sound career goals and learn skills to help them after high school.

The grant, which will be used to develop the "Project FOCUS Academy," was awarded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The state improvement grant will result in a $1,140,170 award each year for three years.

The programs will be developed through collaboration between the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Federation for Children with Special Needs and the University of Massachusetts at Boston’s Institute for Community Inclusion.

The state’s highest-ranking legislators both lauded the award, noting the importance of preparing teachers to provide all students with the necessary skills to succeed both in and out of school.

"These federal funds will help make the promise of a good education real for all students, including those with special learning needs, " said U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry. "I congratulate the Department of Education, and its partners, for collaborating to better serve students with disabilities throughout Massachusetts."

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy agreed.

"For our students with disabilities, a high-quality education begins with a well-trained teacher to support their learning and development," he said. "This grant will provide the tools that Massachusetts teachers need to help children with disabilities succeed – especially in high school, where students need extra help and guidance to make successful transitions to higher education or to meaningful employment."

Among the program goals:

  1. Develop a Communities of Practice (CoP) framework for statewide professional development, entitled the Project FOCUS Academy, using a hybrid approach of web-based and direct training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities for a minimum of 9 high schools and members of their local communities (e.g., educators, youth, families, state service agencies).

  2. Develop training, technical assistance, and dissemination materials on three priority topics:

    1. school-wide positive behavioral supports, including fostering positive climates in schools as well as leadership and self-advocacy skills in youth,

    2. universally designed curriculum, instruction, and assessment strategies that ensure access to and success in the general curriculum and achievement of high standards, and

    3. knowledge and implementation of research-based strategies that assist youth in achieving competitive employment and /or postsecondary education.

  3. Implement a project management structure to ensure execution of project goals and objectives, including timely and effective execution of TTA activities, data collection, reporting requirements, evaluation mechanisms, and coordination of project activities across partners.

  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of project activities in meeting the needs of project participants and in improving the post-school outcomes of youth using quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods.

The Project FOCUS Academy will be an important addition to the state’s public schools, said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll.

"This award will help us ensure that our educators are able to help our students with disabilities set goals for themselves, and strive to achieve them," he said. "I am grateful to federal officials for recognizing the importance of this work, and making it possible with this generous grant."

For more information on programs for students with special needs, visit www.doe.mass.edu/sped.



Last Updated: July 19, 2004
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