At Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD), a new way of completing special education paperwork is paying off.
In 2004, after several years of research, the district implemented Spectrum K12 School Solutions’ Web-based ENCORE! software system for completing individualized education plans (IEPs). Since the district provides special education services to all students with disabilities in St. Louis County – nearly 28,000 – a primary goal in implementing ENCORE! was to eliminate non-compliance issues in IEPs.
According to federal law, every student who receives special education services must have an IEP that lays out the student’s annual goals and objectives. Traditionally completed by hand on paper forms, the IEP is written by the student’s special education teacher with input from parents and other professionals. When, for any number of reasons, an IEP is deemed to be completed incorrectly, it is said to be “not in compliance” and the district could face sanctions from the federal or state government.
High-capacity bandwidth offered us a solution. This past year, with all IEPs completed on the ENCORE! system, SSD was able to account for all the students it serves. In addition, IEPs were 100 percent in compliance on the most recent state file review. ENCORE! checks every field, form and event as it is completed by the teacher. It automatically tracks and displays all upcoming meetings, assembles forms for teachers, and schedules future events within required timelines.
Implementing ENCORE! was not without its challenges. Since the vast majority of students receiving special education services attend school in one of the 23 school districts in St. Louis County, this means that SSD staff is located in more than 260 sites across the county. The district initially experienced issues with connectivity and bandwidth depending on the site, a problem that had to be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Another challenge was training more than 2,500 teachers on a new software program.
However, as teachers adjust to the new way of completing IEPs and as problems are resolved, ENCORE! will make it easier for SSD to meet compliance standards, which in turn will allow the district to focus on educating children and improving student achievement.
For more information about our implementation of ENCORE!, contact me at email@example.com.
Nancy Ide is Chief Information Officer of Special School District of St. Louis County.
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