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Statewide System of Support (SSoS)

First Year Participation and Planning Year Guidance

What Special Education & General Education Administrators Need to Know

General Information

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).

For the first year of M3 participation, your district's M3 redirection of 240 funds and corresponding work will focus on the process of creating both a multi-year Strategic Plan for improving the outcomes of students with IEPs and an FY21 Action Plan for implementation.

Your district is required to engage in self-assessment and planning processes that are broad in scope including multiple indicators of successful outcomes for students with IEPs. For this reason, DESE recommends immediately reviewing results from your district's most recent Coordinated Program Review or Mid-Cycle Review, and reviewing district performance in relation to the indicators specified in the Massachusetts State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR).

Because outcomes for students with IEPs are dependent upon student access to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and participation in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), your district's M3 planning process and work should prioritize:

  • leveraging your district's general education and special education systems' strengths, and
  • collaboration between your district's general education and special education administrators and educators.

Your district's M3 planning process and work should mirror and align with improvement or turnaround planning that is currently occurring in your 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.

Districts should align M3 initiatives with their district/school improvement plan(s) or Charter School action plan. Furthermore, districts engaged in turnaround are encouraged to use M3 funds in alignment with their turnaround strategies and to prioritize services at schools that have been identified for low subgroup performance in the Students with Disabilities category under the FY18 or FY19 MA Accountability Framework.

Districts engaged in school turnaround in partnership with the DESE Statewide System of Support (SSoS) are strongly encouraged to consult with their applicable DESE SSoS representative — Regional Directors or Assistance Lead or Strategic Transformation Director or Targeted Assistance Liaison in the development, implementation, and review of initiatives under this M3 program.

Process Framework and Early Planning Benchmarks

This is your district's M3 planning year. Your district's early planning should focus on the planning process itself and the steps that are necessary to identify:

  • a student outcome area(s) that is most urgently in need of improvement in your district;
  • systems-level barriers and/or gaps that impact your district's capacity to improve the target student outcome area(s); and
  • evidence-based strategies that will make the most impact on improving the target student outcome area(s).

Identification and use of a research-based planning framework that includes process benchmarks is required. When selecting a planning framework your district should consider a planning framework that includes tools and resources to support your district's planning process and will result in effectively determining the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the M3 work in your district.

DESE strongly encourages districts to use the Planning for Success framework located on the DESE website as the M3 end of year reports are based on this framework and its corresponding tools and resources.

For districts that choose to use the Planning for Success framework, tools, and resources: The list of suggested process benchmarks below are aligned with the Planning for Success framework. These benchmarks should be used as an early planning aid in order to set timelines by which each process benchmark listed below will begin and/or be completed. Districts will not be asked to submit these dates to ESE; however, thoughtful timeline setting and use of the Planning for Success tools and resources will naturally generate the information required to successfully meet M3 end of year report requirements.

For districts that choose to use an alternative planning framework: These suggested process benchmarks should be used as an early planning aid in order to support your district to: select an effective planning framework, identify next steps, plan process benchmarks, and set timelines. Districts will not be asked to submit process benchmarks or timelines to ESE; however, when completing this early planning, be sure to plan benchmarks and set timelines that will enable your district to successfully meet M3 end of year report requirements.

Suggested Early Process Benchmarks

  1. Special Education Administrator will begin conversations and connections with the district improvement leadership team.
  2. The district administrator team, in collaboration with the Special Education Administrator, will begin M3 discussions with the DESE Statewide System of Support partner or liaison.
  3. The M3 Planning Team will be selected and in place.
  4. Identification and use of a research-based improvement planning framework that includes process benchmarks will be selected and in use.
  5. SWOT analysis related to planning will begin.
    i.e. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
  6. Stakeholder input plan will be in place.
  7. Self-assessment & data review/analysis will begin.
  8. Root cause analysis and if appropriate, infrastructure analysis will begin.
  9. The district's area(s) of need for system capacity building will be identified.
  10. District target(s) for improvement are identified i.e. district level, school level, or grade level.
  11. Identification of high impact improvement strategies will begin.
  12. Anticipated use of this year's planning funds, by budget line item, will be determined.

Please note: M3 is not intended to require districts to duplicate previous work. If one or more of the above steps duplicates work completed by your district's Special Education Department, use your professional judgement to determine whether to skip the step.

Multi-year Strategic Plan, Action Plan & End of Year Report

Multi-year Strategic Plan and next year's Action Plan

While your district's M3 redirection of 240 funds and corresponding work will focus on engaging in a collaborative and data-driven improvement planning process, this planning year must also result in both a high quality multi-year Strategic Plan for improving the outcomes of students with IEPs, and a high quality Action Plan for implementation next year.

For districts that choose to use the Planning for Success framework, tools, and resources: These two plans will be naturally created when the suggested process benchmarks and timelines above are coupled with the Planning for Success framework, tools, and resources.

For districts that choose to use an alternative planning framework: The following report descriptions and the required information list should be used as a planning aid in order to support your district to: select an effective planning framework, identify next steps, plan process benchmarks, set timelines, and design a monitoring process.

End of Year Report

The purpose of this End of Year Report is for districts to reflect on the processes used to: examine data; identify a planning process and tools; select focus area(s) for self-assessment; engage in a root cause analysis; and plan systemic-action. Additionally, this report will provide DESE snapshots of your district's process and a view of overall project alignment. The Year-end report is due by June 30. DESE will provide a report template.

For districts that choose to use the Planning for Success framework, tools, and resources: The end of year report will be naturally created when the suggested process benchmarks and timelines above are coupled with the Planning for Success framework, tools, and resources. If this approach is taken, your district will need only to copy and paste information from your strategic plan and action plan into the DESE progress report template in order to successfully meet M3 end of year report requirements.

For districts that choose to use an alternative planning framework: The following report descriptions and required information list should be used as a planning aid in order to support your district. When completing your district's planning process, be sure to include the following in order to enable your district to successfully meet M3 end of year report requirements.


For the M3 initial planning year, the End of Year Report may include information regarding your district's:

  • Actual use of funds by budget line item for the M3 planning year;

Initial Process

  • M3 engagement of local collaborators and stakeholders;
  • DESE support and consultation;
  • the research-based planning framework;
  • your district's overall mission and vision for all students;

Planning foundation

  • a set of common beliefs and core values driving the M3 work;
  • self-assessments, multiple data sources, and other tools that your district is using;
  • analysis and monitoring of contributing factors;
  • area(s) of need for system capacity building;
  • your district's M3 theory of action;

Strategic Plan

  • multi-year objectives and priority initiatives (which may include, but cannot be limited to, professional development and coaching);
  • long term outcomes, benchmarks, data sources for monitoring progress, and the process for using this data to make midcourse corrections;

Action Plan for next year:

  • description of planned activities;
  • early evidence of change benchmarks, including anticipated changes in practice(s), attitude(s), and/or behavior(s);
  • process benchmarks, including what will be done, when, and by whom; and
  • description of the anticipated use of staff and financial resources (from non-special education funding sources) that are being blended and/or braided to support the M3 work.

Please contact Abigail T. Slayton or 781-338-3517 with any questions related to M3.

Helpful M3 Guidance

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Making Money Matter (M3)
Download PowerPoint File
M3 Introduction Slides

Helpful Related Links

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Planning for Success
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Advance Notice of Intent to Direct the Use of Fund Code 240
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Accountability Lists, Materials, and Tools
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Results Driven Accountability
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Statewide Special Education SPP/APR Reports: District Compliance and Performance Indicators
 
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