PRIORITY NOTICE: Mandatory Annual Notification of Eligibility for Schoolwide Programs

Updated annual notification of eligibility for schoolwide programs 

Schools that receive federal Title I funds, have poverty rates of at least 40 percent and have approved Title IA Schoolwide Plans are eligible to use their Title I funds – and funds from other sources – to develop “schoolwide programs.”

Schoolwide programs are comprehensive reform strategies, aimed at raising the achievement levels of all students.

To facilitate the inclusion of students with disabilities in schoolwide programs, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the federal regulations at 34 CFR §300.206(a) allow school administrative units to use a portion of the funds they receive under Part B of IDEA for any fiscal year to fund such schoolwide programs.

SAUs can use those funds, as long as students with disabilities receive the services to which they are entitled under their Individualized Education Programs and that are guaranteed under IDEA.

The amount of Part B funds a school expends for schoolwide programs cannot exceed the amount the SAU has received for that fiscal year, divided by the number of children with disabilities in that unit, multiplied by the number of children with disabilities participating in the schoolwide program.

For more information, contact Maine DOE’s Title I Coordinator Monique Sullivan at monique.sullivan@maine.gov, or Acting Director of Special Services Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov.

 

Maine Care Billing, What We Know

A number of schools have contacted us to ask for an update on the requirement that IEPs list Maine Care paid, medically necessary services for children with disabilities. Because the requirements for billing for Maine Care exceed what is required and typically included on the IEP, we will need to work with DHHS to find a mutually acceptable solution.  Please see our website (bottom right of page- recently changed forms) for our updated IEP form.  We are in contact with DHHS and the Maine Care School Liaison to assist in providing details to our colleagues in the field. At this time, we do not anticipate any further clarification or decisions until October, when we will be pursuing a discussion with federal contacts at the annual National Alliance for Medicaid and Education conference. We are advocating for a simplification of the process and documentation, and a narrowing of requirements.

We will keep you informed as we pursue information and answers, appreciate your patience, and welcome your feedback. For more information, please contact Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov.

Reminder Regarding Conditionally Certified Special Education Teachers

As districts are finishing their hiring for the year, please remember that new, conditionally certified special education teachers who are beginning their first year of teaching with this status are required to contact Valerie Smith Valerie.smith@maine.edu (207) 581-2419 to participate in Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program. MACM offers intensive, structured mentoring and coursework for new conditionally certified special educators. The program helps these teachers to work toward their professional certification and to become fully certified special educators. For more information on MACM please visit https://umaine.edu/edhd/research-outreach/macm/

Special Education Forms Update

Based on the periodic review and feedback from a stakeholder group of practitioners in the field, The Maine Department of Education’s Office of Special Services, has revised only a few required forms for special education. Specifically, the IEP form, the adverse effect form, and the optional referral form have been revised; all vendors have been notified of these changes.  A complete list of all forms is available on our website. All changes on the revised forms go into effect August 1, 2019.

  1. Below are the detailed changes to the IEP form:
      • Section 1: the effective date of the IEP has been changed to duration of the IEP, allowing for range (beginning and ending dates)
      • Section 2: in the disability box, multiple disabilities used to require a list of concomitant disabilities. The revised version requires that all concomitant disabilities be checked.
      • Section 3: the considerations section no longer requires a statement as to where the issue is addressed in the IEP.
      • Section 3: question B – the two questions that were listed under question B are now combined into one question, still in the same location.
      • Section 3: question D now has an option of N/A
      • Section 3: question J – same as question B
      • Section 4: changes in the arrangement of previously required information.
      • Section 4: strengths and needs and effect on child’s involvement have been placed in a new block and are no longer in the goals section
      • Section 5: now includes only present level measurable goal, objectives and progress; the CDS (3-5) section was eliminated; all CDS goals go in the Measurable Functional Goals section.
      • Section 6B: Alternate Assessment: now has an option of N/A
      • Section 9: the post-secondary transition plan has not been changed but looks different on the form because of the change from landscape to portrait orientation.

2.  The adverse effect form was revised to add demographic information; this is now a stand-alone form.  In addition, the reason for use of the form was updated to identify initial or continuing eligibility/dismissal.  The remainder of the form is unchanged.

3.  The optional referral form was revised to include more options for Tier 1 interventions, and blocks were added to provide additional Tier 1 interventions in the areas of Speech/Language, Modifying Time Demands, Modifying Assignments and Tests, and Maintaining Focus and Appropriate Behaviors.

The updated Procedural Manual will be posted on the Office of Special Services website by September 1, 2019.

For more information or assistance, please contact Roberta Lucas, Federal Programs Coordinator at 624-6621 or Roberta.lucas@maine.gov

Maine Reaches Federal Milestone in Special Education

Maine is proud to be one of 20 other states in the nation to meet federal requirements for serving the needs of children with disabilities. This rigorous effort was led by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) Office of Special Services.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to report each year to the US Department of Education regarding their progress in meeting “measurable and rigorous targets” to serve students with disabilities. This determination is based on how well schools address the needs of children with disabilities. As part of the review process, Maine and other states were evaluated based on several factors, including student performance and fulfilling IDEA’s procedural requirements.

Members of the Special Services Team at the DOE have been hard at work to partner with and support schools to ensure the quality of education for disabled students in Maine continues to improve. Their strategy has been to identify areas where the state has struggled and use targeted professional development and collaboration with district administrators and teachers to improve those areas. Child Development Services has also been utilized to enhance support for children with disabilities from birth to the age of five. As part of a broader Department-wide effort, this strategy has helped to further emphasize student support and achievement.

One, among many other, contributing factors for the 2019 review, was the increased amount of Maine students with disabilities who participated in standardized testing compared to the previous year. The state receives full points from the federal government if at least 90% of students with disabilities participate in standardized testing.

“We’ve been working really hard to make sure the Department is providing the support needed to help schools improve their practices with children with disabilities,” said Jan Breton, Acting Director of the Office of Special Services. “It takes a strong team of people, both here at the Department and in the field, to make sure that our State is meeting these requirements,” she added.

The commitment and collaboration of students, families, educators, and the Maine DOE has enabled Maine to meet requirements by several percentage points. Additionally, the support and guidance that enables students with disabilities to make smooth transitions from secondary school to post-graduation living has also improved, and the dropout rate for students with disabilities has decreased. With more Maine students receiving their diplomas, these young people can expect improved employability and a wider spread of higher education options after high school.

This milestone gives the Department the opportunity to refocus efforts on collaborative and student-focused growth, as well as areas in which Maine has not yet scored full points as part of the requirements. One example is around the team’s efforts to improve the state’s federal ratings for math scores through the Math4ME program. This program is grounded in hands-on activities and interactive professional learning experiences that allow participants to gain a deeper understanding of core concepts of mathematics and strategies. The program focuses on students with disabilities in grades 3-8.

Maine’s special education professionals are passionate and dedicated in their daily work to improve the lives and outcomes of children with disabilities. With our strong team of professionals here at the Maine DOE and our valuable partnerships with educators, administrators, families, and stakeholders statewide, we hope to continue our important work toward ongoing growth, improvement, and alignment in special education in our state.