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Resource tools for technical assistance providers working with districts in Program Improvement under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The Inventory of Services and Supports (ISS) for Students with Disabilities (SWDs) (DOC) is designed to help districts examine their policies, procedures, and practices to gain a deeper understanding of why SWDs are not learning and why the district is not closing the achievement gap. The tool is designed to provide a framework for the District Leadership Team (DLT) to use that will enhance and deepen their understandings about this subgroup of students.

The ISS is one of four state program assessment guidance tools which are required of local educational agencies (LEAs) when an LEA enters Program Improvement (PI) under Title I or is in Title III Improvement status. All four tools are guidance documents, and although they reflect current state and federal law, are not intended as compliance documents, nor are all LEAs required to administer and adhere to the tool recommendations.

The Academic Program Survey (APS) of nine essential program components for instructional success is the foundational tool at the school level. The APS measures structures for creating a coherent instructional program and recent revisions explicitly address the needs of SWDs and English Learners (ELs). The attendant District Assistance Survey (DAS) helps an LEA assess district level structures and supports for school improvement. The ISS, which replaces the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Survey, along with the English Learner Subgroup Self Assessment, address the unique needs of each of these students groups and build upon the APS and DAS findings.

The 2009 design of the of the ISS is intended to provide insights about the various services and supports for SWDs through an aligned process that includes the essential program components at the school level and district assistance and intervention team standards at the district level. After gathering reviewing and analyzing data from the school level APS, the DAS and the ISS, an LEA will be able to synthesize that information to make important determinations about what the district needs to do to target SWDs needs and address those in the LEA plan.

Use of the ISS

The ISS was created to use existing data that is both useful and coherent with other state tools, align with the essential program components and DAIT standards and support educational options for SWDs. The tool should provide helpful recommendations for use by all districts whose special education students failed to make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).

The ISS should be completed by district and school staff identified by the DLT. These potentially include leaders in the following areas:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Special Education Director
  • Fiscal
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Facilities
  • English Language Coordinator
  • Intervention/After School Specialist
  • Categorical programs
  • Data and Assessment
  • Union Representatives (Classified & Certified)
  • Principals for Elementary and Secondary Representatives
  • General Education and Special Education Teacher Representatives
  • Para-educators
  • Parent Representatives
  • Board Representatives
  • Special Education Local Plan Area Director – Program Specialist

A possible scenario for administering the ISS might include the following activities:

  • Review site level data from the APS, DAS, and other data.
  • Participate in a facilitated guided process that administers the ISS tool with the DLT.
  • Administer needed sections of the ISS with appropriate staff to better understand and analyze the educational programs for students with disabilities.
  • Triangulate results of the ISS and follow up with a variety of activities such classroom walkthroughs, grade level and/or department level conversations, student shadowing, focus groups (e.g., SLT, teachers, administrators) to determine implementation and deeper understanding.
  • Use information to prioritize needed actions and revisions to the LEA plan.
Context for School Improvement: High Quality First Instruction

All students in California should be provided with a rigorous academic program. The SBE-adopted content standards and grades K-8 core instructional materials and standards–aligned instructional materials for secondary students are the foundation of that program. The curriculum should be supported by high quality first instruction, based on teacher knowledge of the standards, subject-matter pedagogy, and an ability to engage students in rigorous learning.

The use of formative assessments informs teaching and learning, assesses student progress, and identifies students in need of differentiated benchmark, strategic, and intensive support. Summative and formative assessments and corresponding placement criteria are also critical to determine the level of English Language Development (ELD) support needed for ELs and for potential special education placement. However, all of these decisions begin with high quality first instruction to meet student needs. LEAs advance this effort by the judicious allocation of general and categorical funds. This means that districts ensure that resources are allocated through a process that recognizes the needs of the lowest performing schools first, and that teachers and administrators receive ongoing professional development in scientifically based instructional strategies.

Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2)

California has adopted a Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) model that supports tiered intervention as an essential general education responsibility. A rapid intervention system is needed in every school and district to catch students early before they are in serious academic difficulty. As a practice, every district needs a multi-tiered system including benchmark, strategic and intensive support levels. At the secondary level, master schedules need to include additional strategic periods to support students to be successful in the core curriculum. Intensive level support provides instruction for those students who are two or more years below grade level, who are seriously at risk and in need of accelerated support or demonstrate chronic low performance on multiple measures of student progress.

RtI2 is a process that districts may use to determine if a student may be eligible for special education services using RtI data as part of the assessment information in that determination of eligibility. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA 2004) coined the term RtI that allowed for new criteria and districts may develop and implement processes and procedures in which RtI data could be used in part, for determining whether a student is eligible for special education and related services as a student with a specific learning disability. California Department of Education (CDE) has further guidance on RtI2 on its website. Students who are already receiving special education services as stated on their Individualized Education Program (IEP), should also be included in strategic and intensive interventions, if supported by the assessed need of the student with a disability and as stated in the student’s IEP.

Parent and Community Involvement

All schools and districts are required to involve parents in student learning. While this is a requirement for schools and districts in Program Improvement under Title I and Title III, involving parents and community partners often and early to help support individual students and to collectively help close the achievement gap between those who are meeting standards and those who are not is critical to student success.

As with all parents, parents of students with disabilities, need to be informed about their child’s educational program and their progress in demonstrating their knowledge of the academic content standards and have the opportunity to be involved in their child’s education program as a whole. The specialized instruction and services on IEP provide support for that student’s learning and other outcomes as determined by the IEP team and based on assessed need. IEPs provide a statement on how the student will access and progress in the general education curriculum.

Parents bring a valued perspective to the DLT regarding the districts’ educational program in general and specialized instruction and services and should be included in determining district priorities for improving student outcomes. Districts in PI and Title I are required to inform parents of their PI status and offer some parent involvement opportunities to foster student academic achievement and language acquisition in a welcoming environment that values parent engagement and provides opportunities for two-way communication.

Limitations on Use of the ISS

The data derived from the ISS are intended to be used as a catalyst for conversations about district improvement and accelerated student academic achievement for SWDs. The inventory may be limited by the experience or knowledge of stakeholders using the tool as well as the validity of the data

Over the course of 2009-10, the California Comprehensive Center will be working with the CDE to study the contents of the revised ISS and make recommendations for any needed changes. If you wish to be involved in this work, please contact

Questions: Allison Smith | | 916-319-0377 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
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