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Special Education

Making Money Matter (M3)

In Fiscal Year 2017, for the first time ESE directed districts with special education determination levels of Needs Technical Assistance (NTA), Needs Intervention (NI), or Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI) to use a portion of the funds made available under the IDEA Part B special education entitlement grant, known as Fund Code 240, for the improvement of performance issues identified through the Massachusetts accountability system.

This project, known as the Making Money Matter (M3) project, is part of the Massachusetts Results Driven Accountability (RDA) initiative, and promotes targeted use of federal special education funds in ways that are designed to lead to improved outcomes for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Theory of Action

  • If ESE carves a portion of entitlement funding and requires it for district improvement of student performance outcomes; And ESE provides technical assistance;
    • Direction of 2% - 4% of funding for planning in the first year,
    • Assist in student outcome data review and analysis,
    • Require system capacity self-assessments,
    • Require identification of and planning for the implementation of high impact evidence-based strategies, highlighted through U.S. Department of Education technical assistance and dissemination center websites, e.g. IDEAs that Work, and
    • Require communication with current ESE technical assistance and supports, e.g., Center for District Support through the District and School Assistance Centers (DSACs) or the Office of District & School Turnaround (ODST);
  • Then districts will identify system gaps and can identify high impact evidence-based practices that may fill those gaps;
  • Then districts will build capacity and systems to implement identified practices with fidelity;
  • So THAT all students' performance outcomes will improve.

ESE recognizes that the funding amount districts are required to use for this purpose is a redirection of resources and ESE does not take this step lightly. Districts in these special education determination levels have demonstrated outcomes for students with IEPs that are not sufficient to achieve the goals of IDEA in service of students with disabilities nor the goals for work that we do together to support students in Massachusetts.

Core Principles of the M3 Planning Process

  1. Students with IEPs cannot wait for incremental improvement in their educational conditions.
  2. The process must be grounded in a cycle of continuous improvement, informed by data, driven by results, and with a laser-like focus on implementation of a few high-leverage strategic objectives.
  3. The process requires time, attention, and commitment and should be a central part of district leaders' daily work.
  4. Monitoring of progress must focus on outcomes and how the activities outlined in the plan are serving the best interests of students with IEPs.
  5. Collaboration between and among stakeholders is essential for accelerated and sustained improvement.
  6. The process requires a willingness to challenge and be challenged, to honestly assess progress and confront difficult issues, and to make the necessary mid-course corrections based on a robust analysis of evidence.
  7. Regular monitoring and accountability is designed to focus and accelerate the improvement process by providing ongoing feedback.

For these reasons, ESE requires all districts with M3 special education determination levels from FY17 forward to re-direct for targeted use, at a minimum between 2% and 4% of the total special education entitlement allocation. Within this range, districts may choose the percentage of funds to re-direct toward appropriate activities selected to create meaningful and sustainable change, and accelerate progress for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This percent range may change in future fiscal years.

While a district's participation in M3 is triggered by the special education determination level and is strongly correlated to students' academic achievement on MCAS, ESE requires districts to engage in a self-assessment and planning processes that are broad in scope including multiple indicators of successful outcomes for students with IEPs. Each district's M3 process and work should mirror and align with improvement planning that is occurring in the district for all students; however, the M3 work must target the outcomes of students with IEPs, the effectiveness of local special education programs and services, and improving the application of the district standards and indicators to special education systems. Once the district identifies key assets, issues and challenges, develops priority areas of need, and explores root causes, ESE expects that all district administrators (general and special) will collaborate to identify overlapping strategic objectives and initiatives in order to best use district resources for all students.

Helpful Documents

Download Word Document
M3 FAQs
Download PDF Document  Download PowerPoint File
Results Driven Accountability, Making Money Matter (M3) & Planning for Success Webinar Materials

Helpful Links



Last Updated: October 6, 2017
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