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Education Department Reshapes Special Education Technical Assistance Centers

The Education Department has allotted $8.7 million to a new Center for Systemic Improvement, which will replace the old regional resource centers that provided special education assistance to states. 

WestEd, a nonprofit research center based in Washington, will oversee the center. It had also been in charge of the Northeast Regional Resource Center, one of the six regional organizations whose work will be combined into this new project. 

The Education Department said that the new center is the largest technical assistance center ever funded by the office of special education and rehabilitative services. Among its tasks will be to help states implement the new "results-driven accountability" framework intended to improve academic outcomes for students with disabilities. 

In addition to the new center, the department has made several additional investments in areas affecting students with disabilities. They include: 

The National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities ($2.5 million):  The Transition Center is the first major investment funded jointly by the Rehabilitation Services Administration and the Office of Special Education Programs to create a seamless transition process from high school through employment. The center will be based at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and "will work with states, school districts, and vocational rehabilitation agencies to implement evidence-based and promising practices and strategies to ensure that students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills, and supports needed for success in postsecondary education and employment." 

The PROMISE Technical Assistance Center ($2 million): This center, based at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities in Silver Spring, Md., will provide technical assistance to states participating in the PROMISE model demonstration projects. (PROMISE stands for Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income.)  Last year, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services awarded more than $211 million to five states and a consortium of six states to establish and operate these model projects

The IDEA Data Fiscal Center ($3.2 million):  Administered by WestEd in San Francisco, this center will help states collect and report accurate fiscal data.

The Leadership Consortia in Sensory Disabilities and Disabilities Associated with Intensive Service Needs ($2.9 million): This program will support two leadership training consortia to prepare doctoral-level leaders in special education, early intervention, and related services. Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Salus University in Elkins Park, Pa., are the two universities leading this work. 

Parent Training and Information Centers ($6.5 million): These grants were given to 23 states to operate centers that work with parents or families of children with disabilities. Each state has at least one of these organizations; the full list of parent centers is available at www.parentcenterhub.org.

 

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