Assessing and Improving Special Education: A Program Review Tool for Schools and Districts Engaged in Rapid School Improvement

The tool was developed through the use of Leading by Convening, a stakeholder-engagement strategy from the IDEA Partnership at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Leading by Convening engages individuals representing different stakeholder groups in an approach to program improvement that is rooted in shared goals; in this case, the goal is having a high-quality special education program in every district. Participating in the process were 21 individuals from 19 agencies or other organizations representing youth, families, school administrators, general education teachers, special education teachers, occupational therapists, special educators, school social workers, school psychologists, higher education, and state education agency and technical assistance center personnel. Building from their collective experience and expertise, including knowledge of the research, participating stakeholders started by identifying 16 features that they consider essential to a high-quality special education program and, for each feature, provided examples of practices that demonstrate the highest standard, an acceptable standard, and an unacceptable standard.