In January 2016, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) notified districts of the 2015 local special education determination under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).1 At that time, districts with determination levels of Needs Technical Assistance (NTA), Needs Intervention (NI), and Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI) were also notified that the Special Education Planning and Policy Development office was coordinating with other offices in ESE to offer targeted technical assistance to districts focusing on identified areas of need, which may include directing the districts' use of funds made available under Fund Code 240, and /or other grant programs administered by ESE.
The purpose of this memo is to provide districts with advance notice that in the upcoming school year, Fiscal Year 2017, ESE will, for the first time, direct districts with determination levels of NTA, NI, and NSI to use a portion of the funds made available under Fund Code 240 for the improvement of performance issues identified through the Massachusetts accountability system. Under IDEA (see 34 CFR § 300.600), the State can direct a district's use of funds in an area in which the district needs assistance, or impose special conditions on the grant, based on the district's special education determination. As part of the Massachusetts Results Driven Accountability initiative, this action will promote targeted use of federal funds special education funds in ways that are designed to lead to improved outcomes for students with disabilities.
For districts with these determination levels, we will re-direct the use of between 1% and 5% of the district's total entitlement grant for FY17. This percent may change in the future, but in FY17, each district's activities will focus on identifying specific area(s) of need based on an in-depth analysis of contributing factors to current student performance outcomes, and creating a plan for action and intervention in the following year and beyond, in consultation with ESE.
We recognize that the funding amount districts will be required to use for this purpose is a redirection of resources and we do not take this step lightly. Districts in these determination levels have outcomes for students with disabilities that are not sufficient to achieve the goals of IDEA and the goals for work that we do together to support students in Massachusetts. I would like to assure you that there will be a fair amount of flexibility in ESE's approach to this work each year.
More information about this new requirement is forthcoming. We look forward to working cooperatively with you to improve services for students. Should you want more immediate information about this action, or wish to be involved in additional planning, representatives from the Special Education Planning and Policy Development office are available to speak with you. Please contact Holly-Anne Neal or 781-338-3362.
1 Lists of Massachusetts Schools and Districts by Accountability and Assistance Level
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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