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Special Education

Welcome to the Low-income Education Access Project (LEAP)


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Understanding the Impact of Poverty on Student Outcomes:

  1. The free online interactive training module developed by ESE and guided by ongoing work with Low-income Education Access Project (LEAP) districts and educational collaboratives has been updated. Participants are now able to use this tool to earn PDPs and a printable version of a Certificate of Completion has been included.

  2. Districts have expressed a need for additional tools to support their efforts to deepen the understanding of the impact of poverty on identification, placement, and student outcomes, and to address these issues through appropriate systems and strategies in the classroom, school environment, and the community.

In response to this request, the Department has developed a statewide cadre of trainers available to support all districts in this content area. These trainers are from twelve educational collaboratives and are available to work with districts, regardless of a districts’ affiliation. We encourage you to use this new resource to support your ongoing work and future endeavors with a focus on improved student outcomes.

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History of LEAP:

The Low-income Education Access Project (LEAP) was created to support the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (ESE) commitment to improving outcomes for all students. Research shows that low-income students are far more likely to be eligible for special education services than other students. Additionally, low-income students who are identified as eligible are more likely to be educated in substantially separate settings. There is evidence that the best outcomes occur for students with disabilities who are most included with their non-disabled peers in school classes and activities. Therefore, both higher identification of low-income students and subsequent separation from the inclusive educational environment is concerning.

ESE is working collaboratively with a cohort of Massachusetts districts (LEAP districts), collaboratives and agencies to assess why disproportionality in special education identification and/or placement is occurring for low-income students. These partners are conducting root cause and infrastructure analyses to identify, develop, and disseminate tools, technical assistance (TA), sustainable professional development, and other resources to ultimately support all Massachusetts districts. The key focus areas for this project are:

  1. Improving understanding of and teaching with poverty in mind;
  2. Improving resources for educators and student support teams;
  3. Improving services and placements for homeless and transient students;
  4. Decreasing inappropriate eligibility determinations for special education;
  5. Increasing identification of special education placements in the least restrictive environment.

While LEAP has its origin in the Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office (SEPP), it has robust connections to other school improvement initiatives in the Department. LEAP showcases the Department's commitment to collaboration with partners both inside and outside of the Department, thus expanding and deepening partnerships across Department offices and with sister agencies, school district personnel, and community members.

Contact: If you have any questions and/or would like additional information regarding LEAP, please contact Susan Fischer, LEAP Coordinator, at sfischer@doe.mass.edu.



Last Updated: November 15, 2016
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