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Quality Assurance Process (QAP)

To assure that students with disabilities receive the programs and services they need, positive results are achieved, and procedural safeguards are provided.

The California Department of Education (CDE) Special Education Quality Assurance Process (QAP) evaluates school district, county office of education, and Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA) compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. The following information provides a brief overview of QAP. QAP verifies that students with disabilities receive the programs and services they need, positive results are achieved, and procedural safeguards (DOC) are provided. This process evolved as the result of a visionary effort to ensure students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). QAP consists of Data Review, Special Education Self-Reviews (SESR), Verification Review (VR), Sanctions, and Technical Assistance.

Data Review

California Special Education Management Information System (CASEMIS) is an information data reporting and retrieval system in special education developed by the CDE. The CDE designed the system to assist the QAP at the local, regional, and state levels. Data generate indications of school district performance on state Key Performance Indicators (KPI), and federal and state timeline compliance (e.g., annual individualized education program [IEP], triennial assessments, transition). These data are used to select districts, each year, for participation in compliance monitoring.

The CDE utilizes a comprehensive data system to collect, monitor, and analyze alleged violations to ensure state and federal laws and regulations are implemented including school district complaint and due process histories. These data are then utilized by the CDE and school districts for SESR and VR processes.

Parent input meetings External link opens in new window or tab., an integral part of the CDE monitoring processes, involve facilitated groups highlighting school district strengths and weaknesses. Patterns of identified concerns provide focus for both local and state reviews (i.e., SESR, VR).

Structured individual interviews are conducted during both local and state compliance reviews. Responses from open-ended questions provide insight to school district implementation of IEP.

Special Education Self-Review and Verification Review

Yearly, one quarter of the over 1,000 California school districts conduct a SESR process. The process includes a self-review of each school site completed by school district personnel with a follow-up review by school districts held six months later to ensure school district fulfillment of legal obligations.

CDE staff may conduct VR as a result of any of the following:

  1. An allegation or reason to believe that a violation(s) of compliance exists based on data from CDE staff responsible for program approval and compliance. VRs may also result from complaint investigations.
  2. Rank ordering school district performance on statewide issues (e.g., over-identification of children with disabilities, least restrictive environment, academic performance). School districts subject to VR demonstrate significantly subaverage performance.
  3. Deficiencies in compliance identified in previous years and noted again in the current year.

Both review processes incorporate these components:


When a district, SELPA, or county office of education fails to comply substantially with a provision of law regarding special education and related services, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction may apply sanctions (e.g., special conditions, withholding funds, writ of mandate).

"Substantial noncompliance" means an incident of significant failure to provide a child with a disability with a FAPE, an act which results in the loss of an educational opportunity to the child or interferes with the opportunity of the parents or guardians of the pupil to participate in the formulation of the individual education program, a history of chronic noncompliance in a particular area, or a systemic agency-wide problem of noncompliance (California Code of Regulations Section 3088.1, External link opens in new window or tab.).

Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is threaded throughout the compliance system. Technical assistance may be defined as assisting local educational agencies in accomplishing the tasks required to design and implement a program that assures students with disabilities a FAPE, which complies with both federal and state statute.

Questions:   Focused Monitoring and Technical Assistance Consultant
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