Ever since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized in 2004, states have found themselves under increased pressure to help their special education students meet higher standards. Before 2004, the focus was mainly on compliance issues, such as the availability of special ed. teachers or the creation of 504 plans and IEP's.
Now greater emphasis is on the results of their efforts, such as whether students actually improve in specific areas. Because of this, states require more help than ever in providing for their students with special needs.
The Old System
Technical aid to states has traditionally been handled by a group of six regional resource centers (RRC's). Each of these has been in charge of a specific region, and their purpose was to implement government standards and mandates in special ed. systems. Under this regional system, states were connected solely by their location and they received help mainly from whatever RRC happened to have charge over them.
A New Center: NCSI
The Federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has delegated $8.7 million to a new center called the National Center for Systemic Development (NCSI). The point of this massive investment is to base assistance on specific needs rather than on specific regions. According to their page on WestEd's site, the center's purposes are to provide assistance with communication and collaboration, utilizing data and knowledge, and changing systems to meet results-driven accountability standards.
Broad and Specific Aid
The NCSI offers both universal support and targeted aid. Services will be available nationwide in order to continue their support for all states, but those states with long-standing issues will receive more specific attention. The hope is that this targeted aid will help clear up these long-standing issues and improve the overall results of special ed. programs in those states. Specific centers in partnership with NCSI help to focus this assistance, since states can be referred to them as needed.
Research and Expertise
The center hopes to achieve its goals through implementing research and data, which means they have a demand for expertise in the field. NCSI is currently looking for staff members in its mission to help states create special ed. systems. This can be a great opportunity for those who have related experience in this field, whether that be on a classroom or administrative level.
For more information on special education and healthcare career opportunities, please contact us.
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