State awards Blumberg Center $4.9 million in grants for resource centers

February 24, 2010

The Indiana Department of Education recently awarded Indiana State University's Blumberg Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Special Education two grants totaling more than $4.9 million over four years to establish two resource centers to aid special education in the state.

"The new grants will allow ISU and the Blumberg Center staff to expand their outreach and service to Indiana's special education students, their parents and teachers in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Education," said Rebecca Libler, associate dean in the Bayh College of Education, where the Blumberg Center is housed.

The resource centers, part of Indiana Resource Centers for Improvement Activities, will develop and provide statewide professional development and resources to school districts throughout the state, Leah Nellis, Blumberg Center director, said.

More than $2.36 million has been allotted to create an Effective and Compliant Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) Resource Center. Its primary activities will be to:
• Serve as a statewide resource to schools regarding compliance with Indiana special education regulations,
• Provide professional development statewide on the best way to write and implement individual programs for students with disabilities,
• Assist with the development of statewide technologies for the development of IEPs and provide statewide training and technical assistance,
• Provide coaching and consultation to select districts and schools based on federal indicator data.

"The Blumberg Center's work will help teachers, students, and families provide students with disabilities the educational services they need in a way that focuses on student learning and growth through collaborative teaming," said Nellis. "Improved student outcomes are essential both for life satisfaction and post-high school work or education success."

The resource center will focus on topics such as involving parents and families in the program process, writing high-quality program goals, using assessments to determine needed program services and monitoring progress toward goals.

Collaborative partners for this center will include the resource center on Transition to Adulthood at the Center on Community Living and Careers at Indiana University's Institute on Disability and Community; IN*SOURCE, the Indiana Resource Center for Families with Special Needs; and the PATINS Project, an Indiana Department of Education Division of Student Learning assistive technology systems change initiative.

Additionally, the Blumberg Center was awarded more than $2.59 million to establish the Effective Evaluation Processes Resource Center. Its primary activities will be to:
• Provide professional development regarding evaluating which students are eligible for special education
• Develop resource materials statewide on the conducting meaningful educational evaluations
• Assist with the development of statewide technologies for evaluation processes
• Respond to statewide assignments from the Department of Education to provide coaching and consultation to selected districts and schools based on federal compliance data.

"These services will help schools and districts better address the learning and behavior needs of all students, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, by focusing specifically on a student's areas of strength and challenge and using this information to guide instruction," Nellis said.

The resource center will focus on topics such as intervention and progress monitoring, appropriate assessment of diverse learners, and family involvement in the evaluation process.

Collaborative partners will include the Equity Project of the Center on Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University and IN*SOURCE, the Indiana Resource Center for Families with Special Needs.

In addition to these two centers, the Blumberg Center is a partner in three additional state- funded resource centers - Effective Assessment and Instruction Resource Center and the Transition to Adulthood Resource, both at the Institute on Community and Disability at Indiana University and the Autism Spectrum Disorder Resource Center at Indiana University School of Medicine.

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Contact: Leah Nellis, Indiana State University, Blumberg Center director, at 812-237-2830 or Leah.Nellis@indstate.edu