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Statewide System of Support (SSoS)

Making Money Matter (M3)

The Making Money Matter (M3) 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 240, for the improvement of performance issues identified through the Massachusetts accountability system.

M3 districts are required to direct at least 2% of their FY20 total special education entitlement allocation toward targeted district 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.


In FY20, districts required to participate in M3 are those with:

  1. A 2018 special education determination level of Needs Assistance (NA), Needs Intervention (NI), or Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI); and
  2. One or more schools with 2018 MA accountability percentiles 1–10

For additional information regarding special education determination of district need for technical assistance or intervention, please review the 2018 Determination of Need for Special Education Technical Assistance or Intervention on the ESE Accountability Lists, Materials, and Tools webpage.

District M3 eligibility will continue for at least three years. M3 eligibility for FY21 will be based on special education determination and MA accountability percentiles in either 2018 or 2019. M3 eligibility for FY22 will be based on special education determination and MA accountability percentiles in either 2018, 2019 or 2020.


In FY20, all districts that participate in M3 must submit the M3 FY20 Year-end Report, including the FY21 Action Plan, and any updates to their Multi-Year Strategic Plan by June 30, 2020.

As part of the Fund Code 240 application, identified districts must complete the M3 tab in the Workbook. Districts must identify the amount of funds (at least 2%) being directed toward the M3 initiative, complete a program description, and reflect the district's FY20 M3 Spending Plan in the grant application.

All FY20 M3 funds must be identified from the districts' Fund Code 240 allocation. However, 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 align to those 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 Fund Code 240 application, districts identified for M³ participation must submit a completed M3 Program Information Workbook, where the district will report the following information:

  • Denote whether the district is in the M³ initial year of assessment or whether the district has participated for more than one year and is in the implementation phase of the project and/or a new assessment cycle, and briefly describe the program plan, using the template provided.

  • Continuing districts (that participated at least one year previously) also must briefly state the Theory of Action, area(s) of need, the process for midcourse corrections, and blended/braided fund use. Districts continuing to participate in the M³ program also must submit the FY19 Year-end Report, FY20 Action Plan, and Multi-Year Strategic Plan to Abigail T. Slayton in the DESE Statewide System of Support prior to application approval.

Fund Use

M3 funds may be used at the district and/or school level. Schools designated as Requiring Assistance or Intervention under the MA FY18 or FY19 Accountability Framework should be prioritized for school level interventions.

M3 funds should be used to:

  • Uncover system gaps,
  • Identify high impact, evidence-based interventions to fill those gaps, that
  • Emphasize Tier 1 inclusive instructional practices, services, and supports, and
  • Build capacity and systems to implement and sustain identified practices with fidelity and at scale.

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.

First year participants will self-assess and create an M³ Action Plan and Multi-Year Strategic Plan. Identified districts are required in their first year to engage in a self-assessment and planning processes that are broad in scope, including multiple indicators of successful outcomes for students with IEPs. Each district's M3 process and work should mirror and align with improvement/turnaround/action planning that is occurring in the district for all students. However, the M3 work must target the outcomes for students with IEPs, the effectiveness of local special education programs and services, and the improvement of the application of the district standards and indicators 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.

Continuing districts will implement and/or re-assess their M³ Action Plan and Multi-Year Strategic Plan, making data-based midcourse corrections as needed.

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.


Theory of Action:

  • 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; and
    • provides technical assistance;
  • Then districts will
    • Uncover system gaps,
    • Identify high impact interventions to fill those gaps, that
    • Emphasize Tier 1 inclusive practices and supports, and
    • Build capacity and systems to implement and sustain identified practices with fidelity and at scale;
  • So that all student's performance outcomes, especially students with IEPs, will improve.

Core Principles:

  1. Investment in effective, sustainable instructional practices
  2. Engagement in a continuous cycle of improvement
  3. Collaboration among stakeholders
  4. Integration with district/school improvement efforts, including blending and braiding of funds
  5. Support from DESE
  6. Accountability for outcomes

Principles of the Planning Process

  • Students with IEPs cannot wait for incremental improvement in their educational conditions.
  • The process must be grounded in a cycle of continuous improvement, informed by data, driven by results, and with a laser-like focus on implementation of a few high-leverage strategic objectives.
  • The process requires time, attention, and commitment and should be a central part of district leaders' daily work.
  • Monitoring of progress must focus on outcomes and how the activities outlined in the plan are serving the best interests of students with IEPs.
  • Collaboration between and among stakeholders is essential for accelerated and sustained improvement.
  • The process requires a willingness to challenge and be challenged, to honestly assess progress and confront difficult issues, and to make the necessary mid-course corrections based on a robust analysis of evidence.
  • Regular monitoring and accountability is designed to focus and accelerate the improvement process by providing ongoing feedback.

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

Helpful M3 Guidance

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M3 First Year Participation and Planning Year Guide
Download PowerPoint File
M3 Introduction
Download PowerPoint File
M3 Video Conference Slides

Helpful Related Links

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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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Planning for Success
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Results Driven Accountability
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Statewide Special Education SPP/APR Reports: District Compliance and Performance Indicators

Last Updated: August 8, 2019

Contact Us

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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