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Special Education

IEP Improvement Project — Updates

Massachusetts IEP Improvement project

January 17, 2020

On 1/17/2020, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) received an update about the Massachusetts Individualized Education Program (IEP) Improvement Project. For more information regarding this briefing, we invite you to review the memorandum provided to the Board. (See page 2)

January 10, 2020

Is Special Education the Right Service?: Referral, Evaluation & Eligibility Guide

On 1/10/202, Special Education Directors were emailed an updated partial-draft of Is Special Education the Right Service; Referral, Evaluation & Eligibility Guide (ISERS) for their review. If you didn’t receive this email, you may request a copy of ISERS by contacting the Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office at

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) appreciates the feedback you have provided so far on the Massachusetts IEP Improvement Project. Extensive stakeholder outreach regarding the draft-document, which will include multiple opportunities for your feedback, will be announced soon.

April 24, 2019

On 4/23/2019, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) received an update about the Massachusetts Individualized Education Program (IEP) Improvement Project. For more information regarding this update, we invite you to review the memorandum and presentation provided to the Board.

December 20, 2018

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has received AnLar's Research, Planning and Recommendation Report. AnLar's research focused on two areas: evidence-based special education policies, practices, and procedures, and market research on a cost-effective IT solution to meet the goals of the project. For more information regarding AnLar's research and proposed recommendations, we invite you to read two documents Download PDF Document: 1) a cover letter from Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and 2) AnLar's five-page Executive Summary of its full report. To request a copy of the full report, which is in excess of 150 pages, please contact the Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office at or call 781-338-3375.

May 7, 2018

In May we invited families, students with IEPs, and other interested parties to complete a survey. The survey was available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. The survey helped us learn more of your thoughts about the IEP development process, and the technology districts/schools currently use.

May 1, 2018

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) appreciates the feedback you have provided so far on the Massachusetts IEP Improvement Project. As a field, you have provided a tremendous amount of feedback over the last few years - all the input you have provided so far has helped us make critical decisions to move the work forward. DESE is conducted additional research to update initial information driving the IEP Improvement Project. In order to complete this research, DESE contracted with AnLar, a Washington, D.C. based consulting firm. AnLar's role is to partner with DESE to complete research that will inform and assist MA to improve current outcomes-based IEP development and implementation processes. AnLar is also partnering with the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology (CELT) to research IT solution options that facilitate these processes.

We are explored more deeply the technological aspects of a new IEP. To do so, we are implemented a wide-reaching stakeholder engagement process, which included a survey, focus groups, and interviews.


Updates to MA Electronic IEP Request for Information (RFI)


MA Electronic IEP Request for Information (RFI)
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office and the Executive Office of Education (EOE) is announcing a recently posted Request for Information (RFI). The purpose of this RFI is to elicit the advice and best analysis of knowledgeable persons in the vendor community to enable us to craft a potential future solicitation for a modernized electronic system and processes for developing and implementing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with disabilities in the Commonwealth.


We appreciate the field's continued support for and interest in the IEP Improvement Project as a means of improving educational outcomes for students with IEPs. The Department's development of process flows and best practice tools and resources in consultation with the Executive Office of Education's Information Technology (EOE-IT) team is continuing. Currently, we are working together to identify an appropriate IT strategy for development of the online system. New best practice guidance and resources will be provided by the Department as they are developed. We are hopeful that interested districts may be able to begin using an online IEP development system early in school year 2016-2017.


The Department has received over 500 responses to the IEP Improvement Project survey. Thank you for taking the time to respond and provide valuable feedback. The Department has removed the survey link in order to analyze the responses. New information will be posted on this webpage as it becomes available. The ImproveIEP email address continues to be monitored, so please feel free to email to offer your suggestions.


DESE has received several inquiries about the IEP Improvement Project and the anticipated roll out of the eIEP system. Due to factors outside the control of the Department, the initial training and testing with early adopters is delayed until the Spring of 2016. If you have any comments about the IEP process or form, please do not hesitate to provide input using the electronic questionnaire. For further information and directions for using the electronic questionnaire, please refer to the post below that is dated 12/23/2014.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
These FAQs are based on feedback provided by diverse stakeholders from across the state. This document will be updated throughout the project. Thank you for your continued input!


The Department has spent much of the fall creating representative models that illustrate the content and functionality that this online system may include. Based on your input, the first several sections of the IEP development process are now online and ready for your feedback. To view the screenshots and help us improve the online IEP system, please provide your feedback using the link at the bottom of this update.

The Department encourages you to display and discuss the screenshots with colleagues at events such as parent advisory council meetings, staff meetings, professional organization convenings, etc. The questionnaire has been designed so that you may submit feedback individually or as a group.

While these representative models are intended to spark initial conversation about the content, logic, and functionality of the new online IEP system, please note that these models do not yet represent the full scope of the new IEP process and form.

Additional work over the next several months will bring new developments, including:

  • Differentiation for students in specific age groups: The final version of the new IEP process and form will be differentiated by age group, with specific forms to better meet the needs of students ages 3-5, 5-14, and 14-22. However, the samples we are releasing now include only the process and form for students ages 5–14. Please include feedback for any of the three age groups in the questionnaire. The link to the questionnaire is located at the end of this update.
  • Additional sections of the IEP form: The current representative models include much of the new IEP development process, including the vision statement, key parent information (including strengths and challenges), evaluation results, and access and participation supports. However, much of the form is still in design. Leave your e-mail in the questionnaire, and we'll let you know when additional sections are ready for your feedback.
  • Case management flow: While the new online IEP system will include case management functions similar to those of other online IEP providers, these representative samples include only the initial design of the IEP Team process itself. Again, if you leave your e-mail in the questionnaire, we'll reach out when samples of this additional functionality are available.
  • An interactive web system: At this stage in the design process, you will see screenshots rather than interactive forms. We've designed these images to give you an idea of the functionalities that we hope to build into the new system. Descriptions are provided alongside each image to further explain the functionalities so that you can get a fuller picture of what the system will look like when developed.

Download Word Document
Flow chart — This document provides an overview of the order in which the current representative models are introduced. Each step in this flow chart corresponds to one or more representative models - each highlighted step has been targeted for feedback in the questionnaire. Also included are additional steps currently in design. The corresponding additional models will be posted to this webpage in the future for your feedback.
Download Word Document
All current representative models — If you would like to view all 29 of the screenshots that have been developed so far, feel free to browse this document.

Thank you very much in advance for your valuable feedback!


Thank you to the more than 550 stakeholders who have provided initial feedback regarding the creation of a new online IEP system. The IEP Improvement Project team here at DESE is hard at work creating representative models showing possible content and system functionality. These models will soon be posted to this website for your feedback!

In the meantime, take a look at this PowerPoint Download PowerPoint File, which provides more information on the details of the project.

Feel free to submit your e-mail comments to

Last Updated: February 4, 2020

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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TTY: (800) 439-2370


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