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Special Education

Strategic Areas

Building Blocks Logo: Better Longitudinal Outcomes for Children in pre-K
  1. Families
    The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) support families and districts to develop partnerships. Parents are equal partners in all steps of the IEP process. Family engagement is essential for improving outcomes for young children with disabilities. ECSE staff collaborates with several internal and external partners to provide resources for the development of parent and community involvement in education. The following links can be useful to assist families and schools build partnerships.

  2. Early Childhood Transitions
    The Department collects data and reports to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) on the implementation of the IEP by 3 years of age for children who have been found eligible for special education and who have been referred from an Early Intervention (EI) program.

    Transition to Preschool or Kindergarten is an exciting and challenging time for young children and their families. Resources in early childhood transition and knowledge of best practices will make the transition easier and ensure positive outcomes for children.

    1. Guidance and Resources
      1. Early Intervention
        Early Intervention, in the Department of Public Health, provides family-centered services to help children who qualify to develop the skills they will need to continue to grow into happy and healthy members of the community

      2. Best Practices in Early Childhood Transition — A Guide for Families
        This guide is the result of a collaborative effort between the Departments of Early Education and Care, Public Health, and Elementary and Secondary Education.

  3. Child Outcomes
    Massachusetts collects and reports data on outcomes for young children three to five years old with disabilities in three federally required focus areas. These areas are:

    • Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships)
    • Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (language and literacy)
    • Use of appropriate behaviors to meet needs

    To collect this data Massachusetts uses the Child Outcomes Summary Process (COS Process). The COS process is a team process for summarizing information related to a child's progress on each of the three child outcome areas. This valuable information can be used to inform instruction at the individual, classroom, and school level as well as help develop more functional IEP goals for young children.

    1. Guidance and Resources
      1. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA)
        This section of the ECTA Center website provides child and family outcomes measurement tools and references for state and local administrators, technical assistance providers, teachers, other direct service providers, and families.

    2. Forms
      1. The Child Outcomes Summary Process and Form
        Instructions on how to use the Child Outcomes Summary Form including: basic directions for filling out the form, definitions of the outcomes ratings, and scoring methods and considerations.

      2. The Decision Tree
        The decision tree is as a tool for training in the use of the COS Form. The tree is a series of questions about the extent to which a child exhibits age-appropriate skills and behaviors in each outcome area. Responses guide the user to a specific rating category on the 7-point scale.

    3. Data Collection
      1. District User Guide for Indicator 7 Data Submission

      2. School User Guide for Indicator 7 Data Submission

      3. Indicator 7 Data Collection Webinar Resources — Recorded Webinar and PowerPoint

      4. Professional Development Resources for the Child Outcomes Summary Process
        Resources provided by the ECTA Center to assist learners to understand the current requirements and the historical roots of federal accountability, the various purposes and uses of outcomes measurement, and an in-depth description of the three child outcomes and the functional nature of the outcomes.

Last Updated: January 13, 2023

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.