The Benefits of a Culture of Sharing
Representatives from the DYS Educational Services Program and ESE Special Education in Institutional Settings (SEIS) office continue to work collaboratively throughout each program year to address issues related to delivery of special education services within the DYS educational program.
Over the last several years, DYS and SEIS have been working to promote a culture that supports special education students’ access to the general curriculum. The following initiatives helped advance this mutual goal:
- A range of integrated professional development offerings were provided for SEIS and DYS educators, with an emphasis on the continued development of collaborative teaming through site-based Learning Teams. These contributed to supporting a more holistic approach in providing for students’ educational needs and providing greater access to the general curriculum for all students with disabilities.
- Learning Teams met in all DYS educational facilities and included DYS and SEIS staff at each site. The purpose of the teams was to develop shared understandings of individual student needs and in doing so promote a more inclusive educational program for DYS youth eligible for special education.
- The Agency Coordination Process for special education eligible students detained or committed to DYS continues to be implemented. It was monitored and updated for the new school year to reflect best practices and support more effective and efficient procedures for communication, service provision planning and inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education program.
- Student data sharing procedures continued to be refined and updated to best utilize Aspen, a shared student information management system. Additional training was provided for all SEIS staff to allow for broader use of the data system by SEIS educators.
- This student information management system enables SEIS staff to identify students eligible for special education at the earliest stages of detention and for all educators to more effectively and efficiently provide services for youth while in detention.
- The shared software system to manage student data also provides better access to data by all those involved in addressing the educational needs of DYS youth and enhances individualized planning for the general education setting and future transitions.
- Implementation of a standardized screening process for students not identified, but who may need to be evaluated for special education eligibility, continued.
- Both agencies continued working in partnership with ESE’s Student Assessment Services Unit to support optimal MCAS and MEPA test administration for students with disabilities and more functional reporting mechanisms to support effectual planning for individual students.
- Access to ESE’s Data Warehouse will soon be implemented, once testing of specialized functions is completed. This access will enable DYS and SEIS staff to use detail regarding individual student performance data to better understand student performance and address individual and group needs.
- IEP and service delivery data monitoring and analysis has been maintained by both agencies, to identify problematic areas in administrative procedures and the provision of special education services. SEIS and DYS continue to work with school districts to enhance ways in which we can more effectively address those administrative procedures as well as promote smooth transitions.
Both agencies will continue their collaborative efforts in order to promote an educational environment that provides quality special education services for all eligible DYS students.