Topic of the Month

April 2014

Facilitated IEP Meeting

IEP facilitation is a process that helps foster effective communication between parents and districts as they develop a mutually acceptable individualized education program for a child.  The process promotes productive IEP meetings that are conducted in a respectful and collaborative manner.  The Illinois State Board of Education is in the process of implementing facilitated IEPs to build district level capacity to develop child-centered IEPs and to decrease the number of more formal dispute resolution processes.  Pilot projects will be in place next school year (2014-2015). 

Parents of children with disabilities or school personnel will have the right to request state-sponsored IEP facilitation services from the Illinois State Board of Education.  There will be no cost to the parent or the school district.  The state-sponsored facilitator will be a neutral party and not a member of the IEP team or an advocate for any person on the team.  The facilitator will promote dialog and encourage participation for decision making, but will not impose a decision upon the group.  The facilitator’s role will include:

*focusing on the process of the meeting and supporting all parties full participation

*modeling effective communication

*keeping team members on task

*clarifying points of agreement and disagreement, and

*providing team members opportunities to consider alternative solutions. 


Learn more about Facilitated IEP Meetings from CADRE-the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education:

Facilitated IEP Meetings


March 2014

Evidence Based Practices

Is your child making adequate progress?  Would you like to see research about the effectiveness of instructional strategies and interventions used by educators at your child’s school?  Would you like information on the level of effectiveness and the age group for which the intervention was designed? Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the IRIS Center provides educators with information on evidence-based practices.  The Center has summarized research on a variety of interventions and strategies. At their website you will find a list of interventions divided into categories such as Mathematics; Reading, Literacy, Language Arts; Transition; and Behavior and Classroom Management.  Under each category a number of interventions are listed in alphabetical order and it is noted whether the intervention has been ‘proven highly effective’, ‘proven effective’, ‘proven to have mixed effects’, or ‘not yet been proven effective’ for a particular age range of students. For example, under the Mathematics category, Saxon Math has been ‘proven effective’ for students in grades 1 through 5; has been ‘proven to have mixed effects’ for students in grades 6 through 8, and has ‘not yet been proven effective’ for students in grades 8 through 12. 

IRIS Evidence-Based Practices

Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a report that provides evidence about which educational and therapeutic practices are effective with students diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  Tables 7 and 8 in Chapter 3 list the evidence-based practices, define them, and show which age groups reported improvement after using the practice.  This report was produced by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and the Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group and was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and the Institute of Education Science. 

Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder


February 2014


“Our goal of preparing all students for college, careers, and civic life cannot be met without first creating safe schools where effective teaching and learning can take place.”  This is the opening sentence in the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from Arne Duncan on January 8, 2014 that prefaces the Guiding Principles-A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline issued by the U.S. Department of Education.  The letter goes on to say that “unfortunately, a significant number of students are removed from class each year – even for minor infractions of school rules – due to exclusionary discipline practices, which disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities”. 

This guidance document discusses approaches to creating safe and supportive conditions for learning.  The guiding principles to improve school climate and discipline include:

1-create positive climates and focus on prevention;

2-develop clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations and consequences to address disruptive student behaviors; and

3-ensure fairness, equity, and continuous improvement. 

Read this resource guide:

Read the ‘Dear Colleague” letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice with guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools in meeting their obligations under Federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating:


January 2014 

Path to Transformation 1115 Waiver

The federal government has specific rules about what Medicaid funds can cover. States can apply for WAIVERS to those rules.  States can ask to expand eligibility to additional individuals and to provide services not typically covered by Medicaid.

Illinois currently has nine Waiver programs.  Each of the Illinois Waiver Programs has its own rules and service delivery system.  These programs serve:

-the elderly
-people with brain injuries
-people with physical disabilities (Division of Rehab Services)
-children who are medically fragile/technology dependent
-people with HIV or AIDS
-people with physical disabilities or elderly persons who need supported housing
-adults with developmental/intellectual disabilities (home-based services)
-children with developmental/intellectual disabilities (home-based services)
-children with developmental/intellectual disabilities that need residential placement

 Governor Quinn’s office is proposing to combine all nine Waiver Programs into one program.  The new waiver will be called “Path to Transformation”. 

 Read a summary of what is being proposed here:
Path to Transformation Concept Paper

Many agencies and persons have commented on the new proposal.  Read the comments at this site:
Comments and Questions about the 1115 Waiver Proposal