Focused Monitoring System 2011-12 : A Revised System Overview

By federal law, states must monitor the implementation of and ensure compliance with all aspects of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To do this, each state must have methods of monitoring how IDEA is being implemented in districts. One way in which Connecticut monitors district implementation and compliance with IDEA is through Focused Monitoring (FM) as Connecticut’s FM goes beyond compliance monitoring by offering support and technical assistance to districts that may be deemed as demonstrating the need. All documents used with the selected districts are provided here for use by all LEAs. This technical assistance is designed to help ensure that all LEAs remain in compliance through the utilization of these forms to provide feedback on implementation of IDEA.

As in the past, Focused Monitoring employs the use of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in reviewing district-level data. A KPI is a type of performance measure which indicates an overarching goal which also includes very specific demonstration criteria. The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) uses a KPI in Focused Monitoring to evaluate districts’ effectiveness of efforts to educate students with an individualized education program (IEP). The Focused Monitoring Steering Committee (FMSC), a broad range of stakeholders, makes recommendations to the CSDE regarding the KPI.

The 2011-12 Focused Monitoring KPI is:

Improve the effectiveness of efforts to educate students with an individualized education program (IEP) as demonstrated by:

    • procedural compliance with IDEA;
    • performance on statewide assessments; and
    • attainment of a regular high school diploma

For the 2011-12 cohort of districts participating in the FM process, ten districts were selected based on this KPI.

The FM system is composed of varied activities such as File Review and Service Verification, Parent Survey, Improvement Planning, Self-Study/Self-Assessment, and Targeted Technical Assistance and Support.

Each district selected for participation will experience two days of in-district program file review and verification of services. During this activity members of the State Focused Monitoring Consultant Team assigned to each district will review 10 to 18 files of students with disabilities (SWDs) and verify that the IEP’d services are being implemented. 

The review will be conducted using a File and Program Review Checklist  to record findings. That checklist will then serve as the ‘FM Monitoring Report’ back to districts.

The report may contain findings of non-compliance. For any findings of non-compliance, letters to districts will be included in the FM Monitoring Report that contain Required Corrective Actions for each finding of non-compliance. All findings of non-compliance should be corrected as soon as possible and verified as acceptable by the CSDE, but these actions should not occur later than one year after the findings were made.

In order to have the opportunity to include parents in the Focused Monitoring activities, the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center (CPAC) will conduct a survey of parents of students with disabilities. In the targeted FM districts, based on a list of approximately 35 student SASIDs generated by the CSDE, Bureau of Data Collection, Research and Evaluation, CPAC will contact as many parents as possible and gain feedback on specific, pre-determined questions. A CPAC consultant will be in touch with each district for access to the specific parent contact information for each student SASID on that list.

A team of CSDE and State Education Resource Center (SERC) consultants are assigned to each district for the purposes of completing the two-day review and verification of services visit as well as all subsequent technical assistance and support sessions (TA). Each team has a designated lead consultant from the CSDE.

In addition to the File Review and Service Verification FM activities, in-district, highly individualized TA is scheduled for each district during the months of January, February, April, and June 2012. On both March 1st and May 4th, 2012, the FM State Consultant Teams bring together all of the 2011-12 FM cohort of districts for TA sessions targeted for broader, more generalized topics related to the KPI. May 29, 2012 has been set aside as a snow date should an earlier TA session be cancelled due to inclement weather.

During the course of the FM TA sessions with districts CSDE and SERC consultant teams will facilitate the development of both a District Focused Monitoring Improvement Plan as well as a Root Cause Analysis related to the focused monitoring data of concern. The FM Improvement Plan is designed to be monitored throughout its implementation through the district’s submission of periodic FM Improvement Plan Progress Reports. Districts have the opportunity to be exited (‘closed out’) from the FM process based on completion of FM tasks and activities, satisfactory FM Improvement Plan Progress, and a demonstration of adequate improvement from the district’s original data of concern, as determined by the CSDE.

The Focused Monitoring System coordinator at the CSDE, Bureau of Special Education is Jay Brown. Please do not hesitate to contact him with questions at (860) 713-6918 or jay.brown@ct.gov.

Click links below for access to forms referenced in the article.

FM- File and Program Review Checklist, FM Parent Survey Questions, 2011-12 FM Improvement Plan, FM Progress Report template