Subject: Focused Monitoring/Improvements
Source: Margaret Strecker, Director, Compliance Section
Intended Audience: Special Education Contacts and Directors of Special
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
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
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