The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE): Division for Special Education Services and Supports is collaborating with local school districts and state, regional, and local 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, 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 Graduate First, a nationally recognized project that utilizes a data-driven intervention framework developed by the National Dropout 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 project expanded in 2013 when SPDG personnel partnered 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 a College and Career Readiness Project that focuses on successful transition planning and improved postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities. During Phase I of this project, 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) for students aged sixteen and above. In Phases 2 and 3 of the College and Career Readiness project, the districts will implement Project 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.
The final component of the SPDG is the Early Childhood Autism Project, an initiative that is operated in partnership with the Emory Autism Center’s Walden Early Childhood Programs. Based on the belief that the road to graduation begins with early intervention, this project 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 such as Head Start and Georgia Pre-K are invited to participate in the project based on preschool outcome data reported in the district’s Annual Performance Report.
Check back here soon for a link to the SPDG Website to learn more about the specific activities, participating schools, and resources.