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 current Georgia SPDG is funded through 2023, includes the work of Georgia's Tiered System of Supports for Students. Georgia educators are aligning to create a preventive framework to improve performance outcomes of all learners. Georgia's Tiered System of Supports for Students is continued implementation of Georgia's Systems of Continuous Improvement, the statewide plan to provide a tiered system of supports for the districts, schools, and students. The tiered system includes evidence-based interventions and screenings that will provide the different levels of support needed to maximize student achievement and reduce behavior problems.
The essential components of Georgia's framework are aligned with the nationally vetted Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) including Screening, Progress Monitoring, Multi-Level Prevention System, and Data-Based Decision Making. Georgia added Infrastructure as a fifth component to ensure schools can develop a systemic and preventive educational system that can easily be personalized for every child. The following are critical elements of Infrastructure: Leadership, Effective Teaming, Professional Learning, and Family and Community Engagement.
The Georgia SPDG, was previously funded through 2017, included 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. The project expanded in 2013 when SPDG personnel partnered with colleagues from the Office of School Improvement to implement Graduate First in federally identified districts as needing improvement based on the graduation performance of students with disabilities.
The Graduate First SPDG expanded its graduation focus with the development of a College and Career Readiness Project that focused on successful transition planning and improved postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities. The College and Career Readiness Project also implemented 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. This student-led IEP and self-determination has expanded to include the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) is based on the principles of self-determination and student-involvement.