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Introducing the New Special Services Module for CheckPoint

Michael Nutter

November 8, 2017

To secure maximum funding for special educational services, it’s essential that you accurately track your district’s active IEPs. Our latest CheckPoint module makes doing precisely that easier than ever.

As of 2015, around six million students were enrolled in special services programs around the country. While every student deserves access to educational support and resources regardless of their ability or circumstances, providing it isn’t always cheap. Research suggests that public schools spend an average of 2.08 times more in operating expenditures on students with learning-impairing disabilities than on non-disabled students.

The federal government and most state governments have funding formulas in place to provide schools with the necessary resources to support robust special services programs, but much of this funding often goes unclaimed due to poor data management and reporting gaps. Hearing Treasurers and Superintendents tell story after story about how frustrating it is to keep track of special needs enrollment inspired us to create our Special Services module, the latest addition to our CheckPoint EMIS platform.

Pinpointing Missing IEPs

The architecture of the CheckPoint platform as a whole spreads accountability for tracking IEPs — Individualized Education Programs that certify a student as having a learning-impairing disability — across a district’s entire special services staff. CheckPoint creates several layers of data validation below the actual Special Services module, meaning every stakeholder from teachers, to building validators, to Superintendents has a role to play in double-checking IEP data.

Within the Special Services module, the District Overview page is usually most useful to a Treasurer or Superintendent. It provides a comprehensive picture of a district’s IEPs and functions as both a vertical and horizontal validation tool. The overview breaks down a district’s IEPs by disability condition (e.g. autism, deaf-blindness, developmental delay, etc.), showing administrators how many students within the district have specific disabilities, how many IEPs are currently in place to serve these students, and how many students with a reported disability are missing an appropriate IEP.

The module provides stakeholders with clear totals for each of these categories, and enables them to drill down into the data with a single click. For example, an administrator can click on the “Students w/o Valid IEPs” total and see a list of all the missing or expired IEPs, sortable by student ID, grade level, facility, or specific condition.

The administrator can then use this information to determine the right person to contact and quickly resolve the issue. A single IEP can net a district an average of $7,000 of additional funding, so the financial incentive to streamline IEP error correction is absolutely enormous.

Reinforcing the Data Validation Process

That being said, the Special Services module is just as helpful as an efficiency-boosting management tool as it is as a funding failsafe. In addition to automatically notifying district administrators of outstanding or outdated IEPs, the module creates a multistep data validation process that helps schools ensure that their active IEPs are tracked, formatted, and reported to the proper government bodies in the proper manner.

First, a particular school’s staff will input their IEP data into a repository existing outside of their formal student information system (SIS), where it will reside until a representative from the school’s special education team releases the data into the school’s SIS. Next, the information is transferred to the district’s data collector. Finally, we help the district import the files into CheckPoint, where the Special Services module lets the district’s EMIS coordinator double-check all of the information before submitting it to the state Department of Education.

In short, the Special Services module acts as a mechanism by which every district stakeholder has the opportunity to review and validate their IEP data. This extra level of review between ordinary lower-level data validation and official certification and submission makes it far more likely that reporting errors will be caught and rectified before it’s too late.

Combined with CheckPoint’s existing features geared toward tracking student information like LEP status and Percent of Time spent on campus, the Special Services module offers the full package in terms of helping districts claim all the funding to which they’re entitled.

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