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Subject: Focused Monitoring/Improvements
Source: Margaret Strecker, Director, Compliance Section

Intended Audience: Special Education Contacts and Directors of Special Education

Date: August 23, 2007

As you know, last year we overhauled our monitoring system. The change to focused monitoring allowed us to reflect in our monitoring system the shift in focus from compliance to performance based on selected State Performance Plan (SPP) indicators. The focused approach to monitoring is reflected in both the compliance self-assessment process all districts conduct prior to their MSIP year and the number and nature of on-site reviews conducted by the Division. The focus areas for both types of reviews are elementary achievement and post-secondary transition.

The areas districts are required to address through a file review and an improvement plan are primarily determined based upon the district's data on selected SPP performance indicators that trigger these requirements if a district is failing to meet designated thresholds. Some compliance indicators must be addressed by all districts, but in general, the number of compliance indicators districts must address has been greatly decreased from previous years.

The on-site review process has also undergone significant changes with 4th cycle monitoring. Last year (2006-2007) only 10 districts received an on-site review and 6 districts have been selected for on-site reviews during the coming school year. The decision to review a much smaller number of districts was a result of the stronger emphasis on improving student performance in districts demonstrating the greatest need for improvement in one or both of the focus areas. We are now able to provide a more comprehensive review, since we are not primarily focusing on compliance but are attempting to help identify strategies the district can use to make a difference in outcomes for students.

Integral to this change in monitoring has been use of our Improvement Monitoring Accountability Compliance System (IMACS), which allows for district self-assessment, division verification, and district improvement planning, again focusing on the selected SPP indicators.

In response to concerns raised by stakeholders and staff, we have looked hard at the monitoring process to determine if there were improvements that could be made to lessen burdens on both you and our staff and have made some changes. We will continue to review our process and meet with stakeholders to consider additional changes.

The changes made so far are as follows:

1. We will decrease the amount of documentation the district is required to provide the Division in order for us to conduct our verification desk reviews. We will identify by student names which file information needs to be submitted to us.

2. We will offer alternative submission options, so that if a district prefers not to use scanning, it can instead use: fax, computer transfer, if the district has an electronic record system or IEP system, or "xerox" copying and mailing of copies.

3. We are reducing the number of questions that would require the insertion of "N/A." By customizing the checklist for each file as much as possible, the N/A entries will be reduced.

4. We are changing the criteria used to trigger the requirement for development of an Improvement Plan. This will provide relief for many districts.

5. We will review the required compliance indicators that are part of the file reviews for each SPP area to determine if we can reduce any of these without compromising our need to ensure general supervision as required by IDEA.

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Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Division of Special Education
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Email:  webreplyspe@dese.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-5739   Fax:  573-526-4404


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