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Special Education

Special Education Policy Memo SY2022-2023 — 3

2022-2023 Determinations of Need for Special Education Technical Assistance or Intervention

To:Administrators of Special Education, Superintendents, School Leaders, and Other Interested Parties
From:Jamie Camacho, Director, Office of Special Education Planning and Policy
Date:November 8, 2022

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),1 the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (the Department) must make annual determinations regarding Local Education Agencies' (LEA) specific needs for technical assistance or intervention in special education.2 Massachusetts does so based on four categories:

  • Meets Requirements (MR)
  • Needs Assistance (NA)
  • Needs Intervention (NI)
  • Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI)

In making the 2022-2023 LEA determinations, the Department assessed LEAs' performance and compliance data,3 including data from the general Accountability and Assistance System, Tiered Focused Monitoring process, State complaints, and State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Reports.

The Department supports all districts assigned the NA, NI, or NSI determination by offering targeted and technical assistance related to special education. Coordinated assistance and intervention are available from multiple offices including, the Special Education Planning and Policy office (SEPP), Office of Public School Monitoring (PSM), Statewide System of Support (SSOS), Office of School Turnaround (OST), and Office of Charter Schools & School Redesign (CSSRD). Assistance will be tailored to meet an LEA's needs, depending on the reasons for which an LEA was identified as needing technical assistance or intervention. The Department will communicate directly with LEAs about this assistance and intervention. In many cases, LEAs are already engaged in accountability and assistance activities with the Department this year; therefore, special education improvement activities may be directed by the Department in collaboration with the LEAs' existing accountability and assistance liaisons to ensure there a is coordinated approach to providing LEAs with technical assistance and intervention.

As described in the rubric below, final LEA determinations reflect both performance and compliance in special education. This year, the 5-Year Cohort Graduation rate and Least Restrictive Environment (Indicators 5 and 6) continue to be prioritized by the Department and are weighted x1.5 and x2.0 respectively. Additionally, points for Problem Resolution System Complaints are calculated per 1000 students with disabilities.

LEA Determinations Rubric
Points Annual Dropout Rate
(2021)
5-Year Cohort Graduation Rate
(2020)
Points x1.5
Public School Monitoring Compliance
(SY2021-2022)
Problem Resolution System Complaints per 1000 SWD
(SY2021-2022)
Special Education State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) Compliance Indicators (4B, 9, & 10)
(SY2020-2021)
Special Education State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) Performance Indicators (5 & 6)
(SY2021-2022)
Points x2
Significant Disproportionality Data
(SY2021-2022 & SY2022-2023)
4 Annual dropout rate for students with disabilities at or below the state's all students rate (1.5%) 5-year cohort graduation rate for students with disabilities at or above the state's all students rate (91.0%) No findings of special education noncompliance in previous Tiered Focused Monitoring (TFM) review Less than 1.0 letters of finding issued (per 1000 SWD) No compliance findings Combined full inclusion rate of 75.0% or higher for students ages 3–21 No Status in both of the last 2 years
3 Annual dropout rate for students with disabilities at or below the state's students with disabilities rate (2.4%), but above the state's all students rate (1.5%) 5-year cohort graduation rate for students with disabilities at or above the state's students with disabilities rate (79.3%), but below the state's all students rate (91.0%) 1–2 findings of special education noncompliance in previous TFM review 1.0 to 2.9 letters of finding issued (per 1000 SWD) At Risk for any 1 indicator (4b, 9, 10). All others must be labelled No Status Combined full inclusion rate from 50.0% to 74.9% for students ages 3–21
  • At Risk in both of the last 2 years, or
  • At Risk in 1 of the last two years & No Status in 1 of the last 2 years
2 Annual dropout rate for students with disabilities from 2.5% to 4.9% 5-year cohort graduation rate for students with disabilities from 66.7% to 79.2% 3–4 findings of special education noncompliance in previous TFM review 3.0 to 3.9 letters of finding issued (per 1000 SWD) Identified for any 1 indicator Combined full inclusion rate from 35.0% to 49.9% for students ages 3–21 Identified in only 1 of the last 2 years
1 Annual dropout rate for students with disabilities of 5.0% or higher 5-year cohort graduation rate for students with disabilities below 66.7% 5 or more findings of special education noncompliance in previous TFM review 4.0 or more letters of finding issued (per 1000 SWD) Identified for 2 or more indicators Combined full inclusion rate below 35.0% for students ages 3–21 Identified in both of the last 2 years

Calculation

(Sum of points earned across all categories with reportable data) ÷ (Total Number of Possible Points in Categories with Reportable Data) = LEA Determination percentage

LEA Determination Categories
Meets Requirements (MR)Needs Assistance (NA)Needs Intervention (NI)Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI)
LEA determination percentage
75.0 – 100.0
LEA determination percentage
65.0 – 74.9
LEA determination percentage
0 – 64.9
A substantial failure to comply with a condition of LEA eligibility under Part B of the IDEA (300.200-300.213)

Targeted Assistance and Intervention Activities

Meets Requirements (MR)

The Department will not be providing targeted technical assistance or intervention to these LEAs based on the LEA determination.

Needs Assistance (NA)

The Department will provide targeted technical assistance to these LEAs based on this annual LEA determination. Targeted assistance related to identified areas of need may include:

  • Directing the use of IDEA Part B special education Fund Code 240 and/or Fund Code 262 on the area(s) in which the LEA needs assistance; and/or
  • Requiring engagement with either SSOS, OST, or CSSRD; and/or
  • Requiring engagement with the Office of Public School Monitoring to address identified noncompliance or as part of Tiered Focused Monitoring activities4; and/or
  • Requiring engagement with the Special Education Planning and Policy office and/or other Department offices to address other special education compliance and performance issues; and/or
  • Requiring participation in specified technical assistance activities.

In addition, all LEAs with a determination of NA are prohibited from using the flexibility available under the Maintenance of Effort5 provisions of IDEA.

Needs Intervention (NI)

The Department will provide targeted intervention to these LEAs based on this annual LEA determination. Targeted interventions related to identified areas of need may include those interventions for LEAs with a Needs Assistance determination. NI LEAs are directed to use a portion of the funds made available under IDEA Part B special education Fund Code 240 and Fund Code 262 for the improvement of performance issues identified through the LEA determination system, i.e., Making Money Matter (M3). Also, all LEAs with a determination of NI are prohibited from using the flexibility available under the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provisions of IDEA.

Additionally, most LEAs with a determination of NI currently receive support from one of the Department's accountability offices including, SSoS, OST, or CSSRD. Therefore, SEPP or PSM, will coordinate with LEAs' current assistance liaison to ensure there is a coordinated approach to providing LEAs with technical assistance and intervention regarding special education. A LEA determination liaison will meet with each LEA to review the district's rubric data and to develop a plan for providing targeted and technical assistance for special education.

Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI)

The Department will provide targeted intervention to any LEAs with a determination of NSI. The Department may also take any other enforcement activity determined to be required, including all activities identified for other determination levels as well as:

  • Recovering State or federal special education funds, as appropriate; and/or
  • Conducting a review of the LEA's fiscal effort according to the maintenance of effort requirements of the law; and/or
  • Denying the LEA's participation in discretionary grant programs until improvements are completed; and/or
  • Requiring specific personnel assignment under the Department's direction.

In addition, all LEAs identified with a determination of NSI are prohibited from using the flexibility available under the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provisions of IDEA.

A list of LEAs' 2022-2023 special education accountability and assistance level is available on the Department's website. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions about LEA Determinations of Need for Special Education Technical Assistance or Intervention for questions about LEA determinations and Department contact information.


1 As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1416.

2 The term local education agency (LEA) includes school districts composed of single schools such as charter or regional vocational high schools.

3 An LEA must meet State and federal special education requirements and, if any specific areas of non-compliance with special education requirements are identified, the LEA must engage in corrective action(s), regardless of the accountability or special education determination levels.

4 The TFM tiers and activities are described and in the Tiered Focused Monitoring Toolkit .

5 34 CFR §§ 300.203-300.208 and Appendix E

Last Updated: November 9, 2022

 
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