The Making Money Matter (M3, AKA "M-cubed") project, is part of the Massachusetts Results Driven Accountability (RDA) initiative. This initiative is intended to promote targeted use of federal special education funds in ways that are designed to lead to improved outcomes for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Districts identified for M3 participation are directed to use a portion of the funds made available under the IDEA Part B special education entitlement grant, known as Fund Code (FC) 240, for the improvement of performance issues identified through the Special Education Determination system.
The title of this initiative, Making Money Matter, represents the power of leveraging a small percentage of funds to effect systemic impact on outcomes for students with IEPs. The nomenclature, M3 (M cubed) focuses on the exponential benefits districts can obtain with this set aside to outcomes for individual students through system level improvements.
M3 districts are required to direct at least 2% of their total special education entitlement allocation toward targeted systemic improvement of performance outcomes for students with disabilities. Districts may choose to direct more of their IDEA allocation toward M3 activities in order to create meaningful and sustainable systemic change and to accelerate progress for students with IEPs.
All districts participating in M3 must submit the M3 Year-end Report by June 30.
Districts required to participate in M3 are those with a special education determination level of Needs Intervention (NI).
Districts that have been designated for participation previously and have participated for less than 3 years are encouraged to continue so that they can complete the goals of their 3-year strategic improvement plan.
For additional information regarding special education determination of district need for technical assistance or intervention, please review the DESE Determination of Need for Special Education Technical Assistance or Intervention webpage.
Districts must identify the amount of funds (at least 2%) being directed toward the M3 initiative, and reflect the district's M3 Spending Plan in the grant application.
All M3 set aside funds must be identified in the FC240 application, and districts are encouraged to blend and braid funds from other sources toward achieving the wider goals and strategies for improved performance for students with IEPs that are coherent with district priorities for improving achievement for all students. Blending and braiding are processes for using multiple funding streams to support a common initiative. Blending refers to wrapping together multiple resources toward a common goal, and braiding refers to coordinating and tracking multiple funding sources toward the project.
As part of the FC 240 application, districts identified for M3 participation, where the district will report the following information in the DESE Statewide System of Support prior to application approval.
M3 funds may be used at the district and/or school level. Schools designated as Requiring Assistance or Intervention under the MA Accountability Framework should be prioritized for school level interventions.
M3 initiatives should be coherent with district/school improvement and action plans, prioritizing services at schools that have been identified for achievement gaps in the Students with Disabilities category under the MA Accountability Framework and addressing the gaps and needs identified in the Needs Intervention determination.
M3 funds should be used to:
Continuing districts will implement their Action Plan for the year toward continuing to enact their 3-Year Strategic Plan and/or re-assess the gaps and needs of students with IEPs, using data teams and evidence-based planning frameworks, emphasizing closing gaps for students experiencing intersectional challenges. Participating districts will make data-based midcourse corrections as needed. Guidance on evidence-based planning frameworks can be found below.
At least every three years, districts continuing their participation are expected to participate in a re-assessment cycle, focusing data team efforts on assessment of achievement and opportunity gaps for students with IEPs, identifying the root causes for those gaps, and developing both a 3-year Strategic Plan for improving the outcomes of students with IEPs and an annual intervention Action Plan for implementation, using an evidence-based planning framework.
First year participants will self-assess and create an M3 Action Plan for the following year and a 3-Year Strategic Plan focused on the challenges presented in the Needs Intervention determination assessment. Identified districts are required in their first year to engage in a data team directed self-assessment and utilize an evidence-based planning framework that identifies gap root causes, disaggregated by historically underserved student groups and offers multiple indicators of successful outcomes for students with IEPs. Each district's M3 process and work should mirror and align with sustainable improvement/action plan priorities that are occurring in the district for all students. M3 objectives and strategies must target improved outcomes for students with IEPs, the effectiveness of local special education programs and services, and the improvement of district standards and indicators applications to special education systems. Once the district identifies key assets, issues and challenges, develops priority areas of need, and explores root causes, DESE 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. The DESE M3 First Year Participation and Planning Year Guide provides more detailed guidance about this process.
Evidence-based planning frameworks that are approved for this process are:
Any other planning frameworks used, must include all of the following essential elements:
Districts engaged in school sustainable improvement processes in partnership with the DESE Statewide System of Support (SSoS) are strongly encouraged to consult with their DESE SSoS regional representative in the development, implementation, and review of initiatives under this M3 program.
If DESE requires that a portion of entitlement funding (at least 2%) be directed toward district improvement of performance outcomes for students on IEPs through evidence-based, inclusive instructional practices and services emphasizing intersectionality equity, particularly racial equity; and provides technical assistance;
Then districts will:
So that all student's performance outcomes, especially students with IEPs, will improve.
Contact: Please contact Abigail T. Slayton or (Tel: 781-338-3517) with any questions related to M3.
M3 Process Graphic
Special Education Assistance Webinar, January 31, 2023
April 2022 Special Education Assistance Webinar Slideshow: Presentation and recording: Presentation Recording
M3 First Year Participation and Planning Year Guide
M3 Video Conference Slides
Additional resource for M3 Planning and Programs: Equity in Special Education Placement: School Self-Assessment Guide for Culturally Responsive Practice by ResearchGate (2005)
Year-end Report Template
Advance Notice of Intent to Direct the Use of Fund Code 240
Accountability Lists, Materials, and Tools
Planning for Success
Results Driven Accountability
Statewide Special Education SPP/APR Reports: District Compliance and Performance Indicators
Additional information regarding special education determination of LEA need for technical assistance or intervention: 2022-2023 Determinations of Need for Special Education Technical Assistance or Intervention.
Last Updated: June 21, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
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