Dec 05, 2012

Believe and Include Grants Designed to Improve Instruction for Special Education; Top Gains Schools Earn Recognition



BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education today, in celebration of the 12th annual Inclusive Schools Week, announced monetary awards for schools serving students with disabilities and those earning the Top Gains label for the 2011-2012 school year.  Sixteen districts or charter organizations, representing 85 schools, will benefit from grant as part of the Department's Believe and Include initiative.  In addition, 440 schools will receive monetary rewards for meeting or exceeding growth targets during the 2011-2012 school year.  The awards align with Louisiana Believes, the state's comprehensive plan for continued improvement, which starts with the idea that we have to give decision making power to the adults closest to children if students are to achieve at higher levels.

"If we believe in our students, then we must believe that all of our students can achieve at high levels," said State Superintendent John White.  "Through Believe and Include, schools will work together to develop innovative strategies to promote academic achievement for students with disabilities."

In August, the Department launched Believe and Include, a $4 million competitive grant program aimed at providing funding to schools to develop innovative programs that help students with disabilities achieve proficiency of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards.  Believe and Include represents an effort to drive achievement by empowering our district leaders, school leaders, and special education teachers to pursue innovation in special education in our state.  Each grant recipient includes at least three schools inside a district or charter organization and will be funded at a maximum rate of $50,000 per school.

Some of the innovative strategies being developed include Lafayette Parish's I Write! which will emphasize the use of research-based instruction for writing, paired with assistive technology.  Livingston Parish's application featured a Writing to Thrive project creating site-specific writing labs at each partner schools to assess and instruct students with a range of low-incidence disabilities and sensory level skills.  And, DeSoto Parish will utilize the Whatever I Need (WIN) project to support students with disabilities by using data to identify academic needs as well as targeted, strategic, research-based interventions.

To provide funding for Believe and Include, the Department is redirecting federal funding provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from centralized state-level programs to school districts and local school leaders.

Additionally, for the 2011-2012 school year, 440 schools were designated a Top Gains school, which are schools that improved their School Performance Score by or beyond a pre-determined growth target.  Top Gains schools will receive $8,500 each for educational purposes within the school.

For a complete listing of Believe and Include recipients, please click here.

For a complete listing of 2011-2012 Top Gains Schools, please click here.


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