Skip Navigation
RRC Program Menu
Adjust Font Size
Login Form

Forgotten your password?
No account yet? Create one
Sept 2006 Newsletter 3 Print E-mail

State Experiences with the SPP ? Part B Programs Respond

The State Performance Plan (SPP) established some new priorities or changed the way that some States have been doing business in some areas of Special Education. The MPRRC queried the region?s State Special Education Directors to find out how the development and implementation of the SPP has affected their responsibilities.

Representatives from North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah responded to several questions.

How has the SPP changed your daily SEA operations?

All of these States indicated that there had been changes. All States told us that there were changes in the work priorities and in the workload. For Utah, the focus is now on data collection and analysis. The State strategic plan has been adjusted to guide daily activities as well as align the resources and budget to support the activities outlined in
the SPP.

Colorado reports that the focus of the monitoring process is changing to a narrower look at data and whether or not the LEAs are addressing specific outcomes. Unfortunately, they find that the data collected does not always give the answers needed, but does provide a structure for digging deeper. The process then becomes more attuned to how LEAs are using that information and data, but the true story is not just the numbers.

The New Mexico Special Education Bureau uses the SPP Indicators and baseline data as the primary focus in developing individual work plans and creating the Employee Development and Appraisal Plans (EDA). Additional duties have been created to ensure the implementation of new indicators.

Bob Rutten, Special Education Director of North Dakota, tells us that the SPP has become a focal point for communication. He uses references to the SPP to discuss Congressional intent for higher outcomes for students with disabilities and helped to make the connection for parents and educators to the increased expectations from the U.S. Department of Education contained in the No Child Left Behind Act. The data collected with the SPP provides specificity about where the State is in many critical issues in special education. Like Utah, the North Dakota program has revised the SEA?s strategic plan to connect the 20 SPP indicators and the goals of the State Education Agency.  Budgeting of resources now provides an enhanced connection to the ?measurable and rigorous targets? established in the SPP.

What is the greatest opportunity offered by the SPP?

All of the States expressed the opportunities that have come to them through the wealth of data.  New Mexico?s Director of Special Education, Denise Koscielniak, uses the data in planning statewide and regional professional development activities, and targets supports for individual districts that will improve outcomes for students with disabilities. She is finding that LEAs are also able to use their own data to make improvements.

Utah is identifying a focus on outcomes and systems level data that encourages data- based decision making, which previous data collection did not provide to the State. Enhanced data collection systems have also improved the accuracy of data.

Although South Dakota reports an increase in the work load of a small State staff, Ann Larsen, the South Dakota Special Education Director, reports an increase in teamwork and greater responsiveness of the staff toward making progress in the areas they have identified.

What has been the greatest challenge of the SPP?

Even though the States report that the collection of better and more informative data is an opportunity, it is also providing challenges. Trying to collect the data in the format that OSEP wants it is a challenge in Colorado. Terri Connolly is the Assistant Director of Exceptional Student Services and is finding that some of the data doesn?t come from just one source. Getting the information from others involved across the department in the OSEP timeline has caused them to structure collaboration and interaction with other departments to share data in new ways.

Developing new data systems, adding data collection requirements to systems, training districts to report timely and accurate data, and the misalignment between the sampling plan requirements and the data collected as part of the monitoring process have provided challenges to meeting the requirements of data collection for SPP indicators.

Utah?s Special Education Director, Nan Gray, reports an additional challenge in Utah:
Probably the greatest challenge, however, was the task of aligning the SPP with our State strategic plan for special education, the Utah Agenda. The Utah Agenda has been in place for more than a decade and revised on a regular basis. It has truly been the document and process, centered on stakeholder input and participation, which has directed our activities.We understood that we could not successfully implement parallel plans, the Utah Agenda, and the SPP. The process of aligning those plans while still maintaining the fidelity of stakeholder participation was a major challenge, especially with the value we place and will continue to place on stakeholder participation in decision making. Our stakeholders are proving to be instrumental in helping us meet that challenge.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 September 2006 )

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.