The primary focus of state monitoring activities is on improving educational results and functional outcomes for all children with disabilities; and ensuring that local education agencies (LEA) meet the program requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), with a particular emphasis on those requirements that are most closely related to improving educational results for children with disabilities. As a result, Vermont has a general supervision system that monitors implementation of IDEA by early intervention programs and LEAs statewide.
Overall, Vermont's general supervision system includes multiple methods to ensure implementation of IDEA; identify and correct noncompliance, facilitate improvement, and support practices that improve results and functional outcomes for children and families.
Agency uses a variety of methods to monitor local educational agencies including focused monitoring activities and desk review activities to investigate LEA performance, especially in areas of low performance or noncompliance.
Compliance monitoring involves a desk review of compliance indicators in the State Performance Plan (SPP). Ten supervisory unions participate each year. The agency uses a variety of methods to monitor local educational agencies including focused monitoring activities and desk review activities to investigate LEA performance, especially in areas of low performance or noncompliance. It is critical that these activities:
- Be implemented fairly and consistently across districts/programs;
- Identify areas of noncompliance;
- Trigger effective corrective actions, technical assistance, improvement strategies, fiscal decisions, and other investments, sanctions, and incentives that ensure timely correction; and
- Lead to a status determination of districts/programs.
Compliance Monitoring Activities
All LEAs in Vermont will be monitored by a desk review at least once between 2016-2021.
Through desk reviews, the following State Performance Plan (SPP) indicators are reviewed for LEA's compliance:
- 4a - Percent of significant discrepancies in suspensions and expulsions of children with disabilities for greater than 10 days in a school year.
- 9 - Percent of disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and related services that are the result of inappropriate identification.
- 10 - Percent of disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in specific disability categories that are the result of inappropriate identification.
- 11 - Percent of children with parental consent to evaluate, who were evaluated and eligibility determined within 60 days or state established timelines.
- 12 - Percent of children referred by Part C prior to age 3, who are found eligible for Part B, and who have an IEP developed and implemented by their third birthday.
- 13 - Percent of youth aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that will reasonably enable the student to meet the postsecondary goals.
Corrective Action Planning Process
Following a desk review of compliance indicators, a LEA will receive a compliance monitoring report which details any and all areas of noncompliance. The LEA is required to develop a corrective action plan (CAP) which details how they will correct the noncompliance within one year of receipt of the compliance monitoring report. A monitoring team consultant is assigned to each LEA to provide guidance and connect with any technical assistance or training that may be needed. Once the CAP is received at the agency, it is reviewed by the monitoring team and either accepted or returned to the LEA for revision. The monitoring team consultant assigned will provide all follow-up activities and track progress.
Focused Monitoring Activities
Focused monitoring is a process that purposefully selects priority areas to examine for compliance based on student results while not specifically examining other areas for compliance to maximize resources, emphasize important variables, and increase the probability of improved results.
Based on staffing capacity, the monitoring team selects three to five LEAs each year to do an extensive on-site review of programs related to the chosen performance indicator from the SPP for the academic year.
Improvement Planning and Process
When areas needing to be improved performance have been identified, the agency uses an improvement planning process to ensure correction of noncompliance in a timely manner (within one year) and meeting of measurable and rigorous targets. States also use incentives to reward performance. Agency staff will provide follow-up and track improvement and correction of noncompliance on an ongoing basis. When performance has not improved and noncompliance is not corrected in a timely manner, there is a range of formalized strategies for enforcement.
Improvement Plan Process
Upon receiving their final report following a focused monitoring visit, the LEA is required to develop and submit a proposed Improvement Plan to the agency within a period of 30 calendar days from the date of the final report. The Improvement Plan should be a comprehensive, interdisciplinary plan that targets LEA-wide improvement. In developing the plan, the LEA should consider the "areas of noncompliance," "supporting evidence," "corrective actions," "required evidence of correction" and "required evidence of change" sections of the final report. The team leader will provide technical assistance and consultation during the development of the Improvement Plan.
In order to assure that the Improvement Plan is comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and LEA-wide, the plan must be developed by the collaborative team. The team may include the superintendent (or an administrator with the authority to commit LEA time and resources), the special education director, the professional development coordinator, curriculum coordinators, general education teachers, special education teachers, parents and others as necessary. This plan must not be a uniquely special education response developed in isolation from other LEA initiatives. The team leader provides technical assistance to the team in the vein of a facilitator. The team leader may not provide the technical assistance that the LEA identifies it needs, but rather may function as a liaison for needed services.
The process used by the monitoring team to develop the report will include:
- A review of the areas of noncompliance and the expected evidence of change in the final report.
- The coordination of the Improvement Plan with other LEA initiatives.
- The following components per activity:
- What specific tasks/activities are planned to address the targeted area
- Why these particular tasks/activities were deemed most appropriate
- When the tasks/activities will be completed
- Who will complete the tasks/activities
- Why this activity will work to bring the LEA into compliance
- Who will monitor the progress and completion of activities
- Resources (fiscal, human) within/outside the LEA that will be used to implement change
- Deliverables, products, materials, documentation, or action plans that will be developed
- How progress will be monitored to ensure that the expected changes take place (self-assessment)
- Outcomes/Impact related to the targeted area
The monitoring team will review the LEA's proposed Improvement Plan, requesting clarifications and revisions, as necessary. Upon approval of the Improvement Plan, the LEA will be issued an approval letter that outlines the schedule of reporting the LEA's progress monitoring to the agency. The purpose of this Monitoring Progress Report is to provide the LEA with a format in which to demonstrate evidence of their efforts to correct the deficiencies identified through the focused monitoring process. In addition, the process allows the LEA to monitor and evaluate the success of their Improvement Plan activities. The scheduling of the progress reports depends on the complexity of the Improvement Plan and the individual needs of the LEA.
Within eight (8) months of the approval date of the Improvement Plan, an Evidence of Change review meeting is scheduled between LEA representatives and the agency team leader to assess whether the LEA has met the required evidence of change at the expected standard. Based on the results of the meeting, determinations will be made regarding whether (1) the LEA has met the standards required and the improvement plan is officially closed, (2) the LEA has not met the standards required and additional time will be allowed with Improvement Plan amendments, or (3) sanctions will be imposed.
If you have questions about monitoring activities please discuss them with your special education consultant.