These Three Counties Received $3M to Reduce Overidentification in Special Education

Calvert, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties will receive a total of $3 million in grants for the Reducing Overidentification in Special Education Grant Program aimed at addressing disproportionate special education identification for historically underserved students.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) announced the recipients of the Reducing Overidentification in Special Education (ROSE) grant. According to the Department, the ROSE grant is a rigorous competitive opportunity that taps into the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Relief Funds (ESSER III). Recipients of this year’s grants are Calvert, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties.

According to a press release from MSDE, the awarded counties will collaborate closely with nationally recognized leaders for the implementation of this program. The press release says:

This initiative specifically addresses the overidentification of students, particularly those from historically underserved communities, as possessing intellectual and/or emotional disabilities. These overidentifications, exacerbated by the unique challenges of the pandemic, emphasize an urgent need to address and alleviate the pandemic’s profound consequences on student learning. Quality general education is quality special education and ROSE seeds the creation and scaling of local education agency (LEA) early identification and tiered intervention strategies for students. These strategies coupled with the critical interrogation of explicit and implicit biases will drive the difficult but necessary change needed to ensure students are not disproportionately identified by race, sex, gender, home language, and income status.

Calvert County Public Schools – $934,665 granted

  • Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) will utilize the ROSE grant to aggressively tackle disparities in special education identifications, aiming for a 50% reduction for African American students in K-5 by June 2024. Key strategies include revamping the pre-referral process to decrease special education referrals by half, launching professional development to mitigate staff implicit biases, and narrowing the academic proficiency gap for African American students. Additionally, a rigorous mathematics professional development initiative will be rolled out for K-2 educators. Concurrently, CCPS plans to reduce the gap in African American students with disabilities suspended inside and outside of school by 100%.

Montgomery County Public Schools – $1,000,000 granted

  • Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is dedicated to significantly reducing the disproportionate identification of Emergent Multilingual Hispanic/Latino (EMH/L) students as having intellectual disabilities. Targeting a decrease from 67.9% to 57.9% by September 2024, MCPS commits to ongoing yearly reductions aiming for a long-term benchmark of just 10% by the end of SY 2027-2028. As part of their holistic approach, MCPS will design a comprehensive multi-tiered systems for support (MTSS) process guide by September 2024, addressing areas like cultural relevancy, differentiating language acquisition from potential educational disabilities, trauma’s role in the identification process, and evidence-based interventions such as restorative justice. This guide aims to mitigate overidentification across all EMLs and lessen out-of-school suspensions for various racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, a cross-office team will champion this endeavor, working closely with selected schools, facilitating professional learning, and ensuring the guide’s components are actualized. Lastly, MCPS plans to launch a system-wide MTSS data management system by September 2024, aligning with their MTSS Process Guide, to ensure actionable insights and seamless operations.

Prince George’s County Public Schools – $1,000,000 granted

  • Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) commits to narrowing the disparity in special education service identifications, targeting a 7.5% reduction for African American students labeled with an emotional disability. With a focus on 14 specific schools, staff will intensify their use of tier 2 and tier 3 intervention strategies, aiming to benefit over 15% of their student population, as evidenced by Response to Intervention Online Tracking. Students involved in grant-backed activities at these schools are anticipated to showcase improved self-management skills, corroborated by pre- and post-social-emotional learning (SEL) assessment data. Furthermore, parents engaged in grant-endorsed training sessions are expected to gain enhanced knowledge and aptitude in applying intervention techniques, supporting their children’s learning, with progress measured using pre- and post-training surveys.

Read the full press release.