The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE): Division for Special Education Services and Supports is collaborating with local school districts and state, regional, and national partners to implement initiatives designed to improve results for children and youth with disabilities. These initiatives, which are funded by a five-year State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) awarded to the state from the United States Department of Education: Office of Special Education Programs, include professional development and technical assistance activities designed to provide school personnel and families with the knowledge and skills needed to implement educational programs and interventions that have proven to be effective in improving outcomes for children and youth with disabilities.
The Georgia SPDG, which is funded through 2017, includes GraduateFIRST, a nationally recognized initiative that utilizes a data-driven intervention framework developed by the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, to successfully address barriers to graduation for students with disabilities. Developed and implemented during the previous SPDG (2007 – 2012), the initiative will be expanded in 2013 when SPDG personnel partner with colleagues from the Office of School Improvement to implement Graduate First in Focus Schools identified as needing improvement based on performance of students with disabilities.
In addition, the SPDG will expand its graduation focus with the development of the College and Career Readiness initiative which focuses on successful transition planning and improved postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities. Technical assistance will be provided to selected school districts based on data indicating noncompliance related to the secondary transition requirements (e.g. measurable transition goals, assessments, and services) or poor performance in key transition related areas such as graduation rate and post-school outcomes. Districts will receive targeted professional development and follow-up coaching to to support the implementation of evidence based practices in transition. Among the practices offered is ASPIRE (Active Student Participation Inspires Real Engagement), a student-led IEP initiative that builds self-confidence, self-determination, and self-advocacy skills which are essential in preparing students for the educational, career, and independent living decisions that they will need to make in adulthood. Collaborating partners include the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center and the University of Kansas Transition Coalition.
The final component of the SPDG is the Autism Early Intervention Project, an initiative that is operated in partnership with the Marcus Autism Center. Based on the belief that the road to graduation begins with early intervention, this initiative focuses on the implementation of evidence-based interventions and strategies to improve social communication and conventional inclusive classroom skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Schools and partnering agencies are invited to participate in the initiative based on preschool outcome data reported in the district’s Annual Performance Report. Collaborating partners include Babies Can’t Wait, Head Start, and Georgia Pre-K.
For more information on SPDG Grant documents click here.
Additional information about each of the above initiatives is available on this website..