Special Education Header

Blueprint Special Education Workgroup

On December 1, 2022, the Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) adopted its Initial Blueprint Comprehensive Implementation Plan. The Implementation Plan outlines recommendations for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to convene a Blueprint Special Education Workgroup to discuss and make recommendations on instruction and services for students with disabilities. MSDE is deeply invested in the success of students with disabilities and ensuring that all Blueprint-related programming occurs based on the best-in-class evidence-based research and strategies. Doing so is essential for the growth of our students with disabilities, particularly given the disproportionality of identification and service requirements.

Workgroup Meetings

MSDE welcomes meaningful input and public engagement to determine how we reduce the opportunity and achievement gaps for students with disabilities compared to same age peers. To address the specified requirements of the AIB Plan, MSDE will host a series of meetings beginning in August 2023. Each meeting will be focused on a guiding question and include a spotlight on best practices and research on the topic. Meetings will be held in person with a virtual option. The hybrid format will enable national experts and researchers to present and answer questions from Workgroup members and allow critical stakeholders to provide public comment at the beginning of each session.  

Initial & Interim Reports

This Workgroup’s initial report provided background information, data, national best practices, and research, as well as initial findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by 12/1/23. An interim report will build on that report and be submitted by 7/1/24.

Final Report on Special Education

This Workgroup’s final report will build upon the previous reports, summarizing all research, data, and meaningful input and public engagement. This final report will present a full set of recommendations designed to evolve Maryland’s existing policies and practices to determine how we reduce the opportunity and achievement gaps for students with disabilities compared to same age peers.

In-Person and Virtual Public Comment Guidelines and Procedures

Members of the public are encouraged to submit comment(s)/feedback to the Workgroup to share their views on issues pertaining to improving the education of students receiving special education services in P-12 schools in the state. The process for signing up and providing public testimony is outlined below. If you have any questions about this process, please submit them to carmen.brown1@maryland.gov.

All speakers shall conduct themselves in a respectful, civil manner. Although Workgroup members do not respond to the comments during this segment of the meeting, the members do listen and may use this information for later Workgroup discussions.

Process for Public Comment

  1. Registration will open a week prior to the Workgroup meeting date and close at 3 p.m. on the last business day preceding the meeting.
  2. Individuals may sign-up to provide public comment at the next Workgroup meeting by completing this form.
  3. Sign-up for public comment is limited to 10 speakers and registration is first-come, first served. You will receive a notice to confirm your registration. If you are providing comments virtually, you will be provided with instructions on how to connect to the meeting. Once registration has reached capacity, individuals may be placed on a waiting list. Individuals on the waiting list will be notified up to one day prior to the meeting if a space becomes available.
  4. The Workgroup designee will explain the meeting procedures and call on speakers in order of their registration.
  5. Comments are limited to three (3) minutes per speaker. Time will be monitored by staff through the use of a timer. When that time expires, the speaker is permitted to complete a sentence but should make no further remarks.
  6. Public comment submissions may not be related to personnel matters or issues pending in appeals to a local board or to the State Board.
  7. Members of the public can also submit their comments in writing to the Workgroup at carmen.brown1@maryland.gov for distribution to all members.

Workgroup Meetings

Location of Meetings

All meetings will be held at the Maryland State Department of Education located at 200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 in the 7th floor Board Room with a virtual option for attendance. Members of the public will be able to hear and view the livestream of the meeting in real time.

Guiding Questions:
What is the state of students with disabilities in Maryland? How do we overcome persistent barriers to effective implementation?

Workgroup members will convene to understand Workgroup responsibilities, hear from MSDE staff who will provide a data dive for the Workgroup to consider as they develop recommendations to educate students with disabilities in the state, participate in a discussion about previous studies to support students with disabilities, and learn how Lexington, Massachusetts significantly closed the achievement gaps for special education, minority, and low-income students.

Guest Speaker:

Paul B. Ash, Ph.D., former superintendent of schools in Lexington, Massachusetts is a recognized national consultant and expert on closing achievement gaps.

MSDE Presentations:

Agenda
View the Special Education Workgroup Meeting

Guiding Questions:
What are existing standards and expectations under IDEA for the progress students with disabilities should be able to achieve? How do we ensure the IEP goals are set that are appropriately ambitious?

Workgroup members will convene to participate in a summary of recommendations from prior workgroups and taskforces on special education in Maryland. They will hear about the IEP framework and Maryland student performance and review research for consideration as they develop recommendations to improve the IEP process to ensure that students are enabled to narrow the achievement gap and achieve grade level standards.

Pre-Reading

Workgroup Meeting Padlet Exercise Results

Special Education Workgroup Presentation

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)
View the Special Education Workgroup Meeting

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will convene to explore tiered interventions leading to improved outcomes for ALL students. Experts, Kalman (Buzzy) Hettleman and Rachel Quenemoen, M.S., will guide the Workgroup in understanding MTSS/RTI frameworks. Rachel Quenemoen will further guide the Workgroup to consider the data/information necessary to move this work forward to benefit all students throughout Maryland.

Guiding Questions:
How can general and special education be more effectively integrated so that the instruction and built-in supports in general education can better meet the needs of students, resulting in fewer referrals and identification?

Many of the Workgroup’s forthcoming topics will look at various aspects of integrating general and special education (e.g., teacher preparation and professional learning; collaboration time; instructional strategies; staffing models). For the next two sessions, we are interested in exploring frameworks that best support students with disabilities within general education. Specifically, we will turn to Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).

Pre-Reading

Guest Presentations

Presentation

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)
View the Special Education Workgroup Meeting

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will continue to explore tiered interventions leading to improved outcomes for ALL students. Rebecca Zumeta Edmonds, Managing Research at the AIR, will guide the Workgroup to consider what is necessary to fully implement MTSS throughout Maryland. The workgroup will also participate in small group discussions to identify barriers and curate recommendations for Maryland implementation.

Guiding Questions:
How can general and special education be more effectively integrated so that the instruction and built-in supports in general education can better meet the needs of students, resulting in fewer referrals and identification?

Pre-Reading:

  • MTSS: What is a Multi-Tiered System of Supports? (Recent brief piece in EdWeek)
  • Response to Intervention (RTI)/Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS): A Nationwide Analysis (Journal of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)—This is a piece that looks at the national landscape of state MTSS implementation. Copyright rules prevent me from sending the pdf, but here here is the abstract and full citation.

Guest Presentation:

Special Education Workgroup Presentation:

Additional Requested Data:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)
View the Special Education Workgroup Meeting

Virtual-Only Meeting:
This meeting is only virtual. Please use the YouTube Link to watch it.

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will delve into the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) as well as the use of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. A panel of experts from the Workgroup will share their experiences with SDI, and Workgroup members will participate in breakout groups and share highlights of those breakouts with the larger group.

Guiding Questions:
What evidence-based instruction and related services will enable all students with disabilities to meet the standards and expectations under IDEA?

Pre-Reading:

Presentation:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)
View the Special Education Workgroup Meeting

Virtual-Only Meeting:
This meeting will be held in a virtual format ONLY. Please use the YouTube Link to watch it.

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will develop recommendations to enhance technical assistance developed and provided by MSDE, inform critical uniform data elements, and address improvements to MSDE monitoring protocols. Workgroup members will participate in breakout groups and share highlights of those breakouts with the larger group and hear from the President of the Maryland State Education Association.

Guiding Questions:
How can MSDE ensure the effective implementation of IEPs, including technical assistance, monitoring, and uniform data collection?

Pre-Reading:

Presentation:

Additional Documentation:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)

Virtual-Only Meeting:
This meeting will be held in a virtual format ONLY. Please use the YouTube Link to watch it.

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will discuss recommendations derived from the February meeting and collaborate through small and large group discussions to address the multi-layered guiding questions below.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are the knowledge, skills, and expertise that general and special educators need to effectively teach all students, including students with disabilities?
  • How can educator preparation programs and licensure requirements for certification and recertification be better aligned to these knowledge, skills, and expertise?
  • What is the role of Higher Education vs. LEAs in developing the required knowledge, skills, and expertise? What short- and long-term strategies will enhance supply and encourage retention of general and special educators?

Pre-Reading:

Presentation:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)

Virtual-Only Meeting:
This meeting will be held in a virtual format ONLY. Please use the YouTube Link to watch it.

  • Breakout Room 1 YouTube
  • Breakout Room 2 YouTube TBA
  • Breakout Room 3 YouTube TBA
  • Breakout Room 4 YouTube TBA
  • Breakout Room 5 YouTube TBA

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will discuss recommendations derived from the March meeting and collaborate through small and large group discussions to discuss what standards for evidence-based staffing models in special education and related services could be implemented in Maryland that would improve student outcomes and be sustainable, as well as what standards and guidance MSDE could offer to define and ensure appropriately trained and supervised staff are available throughout the systems?

Guiding Questions:

  • What evidence-based staffing models aligned with service delivery models for special education and related services could be implemented that would improve student achievement, be sustainable, improve working conditions, and encourage retention of educators?

Pre-Reading:

Presentation:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)

Virtual-Only Meeting:
This meeting will be held in a virtual format ONLY. Please use the YouTube Link to watch it.

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will discuss recommendations identified in the April meeting and collaborate through small and large group discussions to discuss what adequate funding for special education looks like and how inadequate funding impacts students’ access to a free appropriate public education. The Workgroup will discuss six (6) questions to guide this discussion.

Guiding Questions:

  • Is funding for special education adequate? How can MSDE require LEAs to use special education funding under the Blueprint to supplement (not supplant) funding for special education services? What are options for short-term funding increases?

Pre-Reading:

Presentation:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)

Virtual-Only Meeting:
This meeting will be held in a virtual format ONLY. Please use the YouTube Link to watch it.

Workgroup Overview:
Workgroup members will discuss recommendations identified in the May meeting, hear about current State funding efforts underway, be led through a discussion on the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and their implications for students with disabilities. Then, the Workgroup will collaborate through small and large group discussions to provide input to the following questions to guide the development of recommendations.

Guiding Questions:

  • What steps can be taken in policy and statewide standards of practice to advance the legal requirement in IDEA that students, regardless of disability category and type of assessment in which they participate, be educated in the least restrictive environment?
  • What are the impacts of Maryland’s historic reliance on placements in public and nonpublic separate schools to educate a significant percentage of students with disabilities?

Pre-Reading:

Presentation:

Agenda
Agenda (Spanish)