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Technical assistance

The Urban Collaborative provides a range of technical assistance, including comprehensive reviews of school district special education services, system-level consultation and more.

The Urban Collaborative conducts reviews of a district's special education services through the lens of equity and inclusion. Reviews include an examination of the district’s organizational structures and how special education supports students with disabilities and the district in general.

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Our approach

The Urban Collaborative approaches its work using the following guidelines:

  • According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education services are to provide children with disabilities a “free and appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment” to prepare them for “further education, employment, and independent living.”
  • Special education is meant to minimize the impact of disability and maximize the opportunities for children with disabilities to participate in general education in their local community.
  • Students should remain in the educational environment they would be in if they did not have a disability. Removal from this environment must be justified
  • Special education is a service, not a place.
  • Our work always moves from general education to special education as we believe that the stronger the district’s general education practices, the stronger the district’s special education practices.
  • As districts are required to support all students to reach high academic standards and to do so, need systems of tiered support, the first tier lays the foundation for the second and third tiers and, therefore, must not only be strong but purposeful in including students with disabilities.

District reviews are:

 Carried out by teams of experts

These include those with district and special education expertise. We always include at least one person who is currently working in the field.

 Comprehensive, addressing critical factors described by the district

Your comprehensive review will focus on questions raised by district leaders and will focus on supporting an environment that is fully inclusive of students with disabilities. We examine special education supports and services, student placements, transition services, student performance outcomes, and disproportionality in classification rates, educational placements and more. Our recommendations are developed in collaboration with district leadership.

 A key source of data you can trust

Data collection may include quantitative data at the student, district and state levels, district-submitted quantitative data, interviews, observations and focus groups comprising school staff members, administrators, parents, students, community members. Where appropriate we conduct surveys that include families and/or district staff.

What else can the Urban Collaborative help you with?

School districts also hire the Urban Collaborative to support equitable and inclusive practices through:

  1. Consultation - We can be your thought partners, helping think through new ideas and challenges like department organization or how to best use paraprofessionals.
  2. Strategic planning - We support strategic planning through the development of five-year plans or one-year action planning.
  3. Facilitation of processes - We can support your implementation of plans, helping secure staff buy-in to address disproportionality or to move towards inclusive practices.