Rose is a small, sparkling-eyed girl with an engaging smile and a long ponytail. She lives with her mother in a small city in the Pacific Northwest. Rose is unable to walk unassisted and has limited use of her hands because of cerebral palsy. She uses a motorized wheelchair to transport herself at home and at school. With the strong support of her mother and the special education team at her school, Rose has become self-mobile and independent.
Like other students, Rose has used a computer for several years. However, her computer has software programs that support her academic learning. For example, her word-processing program includes word-prediction technology that allows Rose to type the first few letters of a word and then select the most appropriate word from a computer-generated list. With this tool, Rose can complete more of her written assignments independently and on time.
Rose today is a high-achieving young woman with a bright future. She is a good student, who served on the student council and was elected class secretary for the 5th grade. Her goals include college and a career.
Today, Rose is one of millions of children with disabilities whose education is supported by IDEA '97. This landmark Federal law authorizes investments in research, training, and technical assistance that actively support the abilities of states and localities to guarantee all individuals with disabilities a free, appropriate public education.
Many practices of our nation's best teachers result directly from rigorous research. Proven practices, such as Rose's word-prediction program, come directly from research conducted by IDEA-sponsored projects. With support from other investments for training and technical assistance, teachers of children with disabilities can employ research-validated practices with confidence. (See side bar: Contributions of IDEA-Part D Programs.)
Contributions of IDEA- Part D Programs
IDEA-Part D programs have contributed to improved practices that address critical national concerns.
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IDEA-Part D programs, which represent less than 1 percent of the annual national expenditure to educate children with disabilities, play a significant role in identifying, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating information about effective practices. IDEA-Part D programs provide an infrastructure of practice improvement that supports the other 99 percent of our national expenditure to educate infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families.
Federal policymakers had a vision for this infrastructure that dates back over 30 years when they established the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped (BEH) within the U.S. Office of Education on January 12, 1967. The Bureau comprised the Division of Research, Division of Educational Services, and Division of Training Programs.
James Gallagher, Associate Commissioner of the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, was among the first to articulate that BEH would support the effective translation of research into improved practice through five interrelated phases of Part D investments. Investments in research projects support the discovery of new knowledge about how to educate children with disabilities effectively. Investments in development projects help integrate research findings into instructional curricula. Investments in demonstration projects validate that research-based practices and curricula could be replicated. Investments in implementation projects support the dissemination and use of proven practices and curricula. Finally, investments in adoption projects support policymakers and program administrators who are responsible for institutionalizing proven practices and curricula in schools and other educational settings. Subsequent Federal investments authorized under Public Law 94-142 and IDEA have reflected this research-to-practice paradigm. In effect, this paradigm constitutes an integrated infrastructure of Federal investments in early childhood and special education. The long-term impact of this infrastructure has been to support improved results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families over the last quarter of the 20th century.
IDEA '97 authorized seven Part D programs that continue a long history of Federal support for improved practice. (See side bar: IDEA-Part D Programs.) Proven practices, developed, validated, and disseminated through IDEA-Part D investments, have changed how children with disabilities receive early intervention and are educated in thousands of local communities in almost every state.
IDEA-Part D Programs
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IDEA research projects have a long history of Part D support at the Federal level. As noted earlier, the Federal government authorized research grants under the Cooperative Research Act of 1954 (PL 83-531), although monies for these grants were not appropriated until 1957. Federal support for research in special education, including the enactment and subsequent amendments to Public Law 94-142 and IDEA, has been consistent.
Over the last 40 years, IDEA researchers have developed and validated, through numerous replications, principles for instructional design. These principles provide a framework for classroom instruction so that students with disabilities, as well as their non-disabled classmates, can make sense of new concepts, relationships, and learning experiences. Students are given models of reasonable ways to solve problems or follow procedures, are supported amply during the learning process, and are given adequate practice opportunities. Skilled teachers can use such research-validated practices to accelerate learning for students with disabilities. (See side bar: Instructional Design Principles.)
Instructional Design Principles
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IDEA researchers not only have validated instructional practices, but also have synthesized knowledge about these practices into comprehensive programs to improve results for children with disabilities and their families. In turn, State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) across the country have disseminated and replicated many of these programs to improve results for children and families. (See side bar: Pre-referral Services Projects.)
Pre-referral Services Projects
IDEA researchers, such as Tanis Bryan (Arizona State University), have helped schools reduce the number of children referred to special education. Before (not after) referring a child with special needs to special education, teams of special educators and general educators identify, observe, and assess the child in the general education classroom. The team then develops and implements alternative instructional strategies that address specific academic and social difficulties. Such projects have reduced the rates of special education referrals by 30 to 50 percent in California, Kansas, and North Carolina. Because of these positive results, 27 states now require pre-referral services.
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The 1986 Amendments to IDEA (PL 99-457) authorized the Technology, Educational Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program. This program, which was subsumed as an IDEA-Part D program for technology under the 1997 Amendments, supports captioning to make communication technology accessible, and the development of tools and strategies that help children with disabilities become active, independent learners at school and at home. In the last 14 years, IDEA investments have supported the work of more than 150 technology researchers in over 30 states.
Before Public Law 94-142 and IDEA, Federal investments in technology were authorized under selected research and training grants. For example, these early grants provided support under the Captioned Films Acts of 1958 (PL 85-905) and 1961 (PL 87-715). By 1958, more than 3 million persons who were deaf had viewed accessible films with captions. As new communication technology evolved, such as television, Federal support to make technology accessible has continued. For example, IDEA has supported descriptive video services for children with visual impairments. In addition, today, many commercial television shows are captioned, including news shows, daytime programming, prime-time comedy and variety shows, and sporting events.
Not only persons who are deaf or hard of hearing have benefited from television captioning. For example, non-disabled persons learning the English language have benefited from captioning. In addition, continued Federal investments have leveraged private support for captioning. Today, IDEA monies and private companies work together to provide the funds needed to make television shows accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
A new generation of instructional strategies, validated and implemented through IDEA investments in technology, is changing how teachers teach. For example, computers and other tools can be integrated into ongoing daily instruction to enrich and extend the standard academic curriculum. The technology supports innovative learning experiences, such as challenging students to imagine participating in the American Revolution or other historical events. Teachers can use such technology to support their students in applying previously learned skills and concepts to new situations or looking at events from different perspectives. Thus, instead of dispensing knowledge, teachers enable learning by using technology to individualize the learning experience for each student in their class. (See side bar: Anchored Instruction Techniques.)
Anchored Instruction Techniques
IDEA technology researchers, such as Ted Hasselbring (Vanderbilt University), Ralph Ferretti (University of Delaware), and John Woodward (University of Puget Sound), have developed and validated techniques for anchored instruction. With this strategy, teachers ask students to view video and animated adventures on CD-ROMs and then use these adventures to organize a series of interrelated lessons around a common topic. The lessons help students learn to select a challenging topic, discover what it means, and communicate this information to their peers, teachers, and families. IDEA research shows that teachers' use of this proven practice can help thousands of students with disabilities, at all skill levels, access new information and excel in reading, mathematics, and social science.
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The 1997 Amendments to IDEA authorized investments in personnel preparation that continued 40 years of Federal support for training personnel who work with infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families. IDEA monies support training programs at institutions of higher education, state and local education authorities, and other nonprofit agencies and organizations throughout the country.
The Training of Professional Personnel Act of 1959 (PL 86-158) was the first Federal law that supported personnel preparation and training. The impact of the law, which helped train leaders to educate children with mental retardation, was expanded to personnel serving other groups of children with disabilities. For example, Teachers of the Deaf Act of 1961 (PL 87-276) trained instructional personnel for children who were deaf or hard of hearing. Through this early Part D support, more than 30,000 teachers and related specialists had been trained by 1968. A total of 70,000 persons was available to help educate children with disabilities. Thus, Federal Part D investments had helped train about 40 percent of the national workforce in special education at that time.
Today, IDEA projects for personnel preparation are addressing national concerns that all teachers and service providers should be knowledgeable about interventions and practices known to be effective in improving results for children and families. Toward that end, IDEA projects have contributed to major shifts in what teachers teach, as academic curricula have expanded to include not only the "3-Rs," but also instruction on how to organize one's thoughts, solve complex problems, and learn appropriate behavior and social skills leading to productive citizenship. Similarly, these projects have contributed to changes in how teachers teach. In addition, OSEP has supported the On-Line Academy at the University of Kansas that has placed state-of-the-art learning modules on the Internet, making additional training available to professionals across the country.
Rather than rely mainly on static "chalk-and-talk" learning, where teachers lecture and students passively listen, today's teachers have changed the dynamic of their classrooms by empowering students to influence their own learning through collaborative dialogues with their teachers and classmates. These IDEA-supported changes have contributed to increased learning and high achievement among all students, including children with disabilities and their non-disabled classmates. (See side bar: Critical Thinking Skills Project.)
Critical Thinking Skills Project
IDEA researcher-trainers, such as Donald Deshler (University of Kansas), have helped secondary school students with learning disabilities develop the complex learning strategies they will need for tomorrow's jobs. For example, students can improve their writing skills through guidelines for identifying a stimulating theme, writing clear sentences that elaborate the theme, organizing these sentences into coherent paragraphs, and systematically checking the composition for errors. Outside reviewers rated the students' written products more highly, on average, than those of their non-disabled peers. Today, these IDEA-proven practices are widely used, having been disseminated through a national network of teachers and teacher-trainers. This network, which is based at universities in Arizona, Alabama, Kansas, and Pennsylvania, has provided information to more than 75,000 teachers in 1, 200 school districts in 26 states across the country.
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IDEA's ongoing support for a national program of technical assistance and dissemination to improve results for children with disabilities and their families has further enhanced investments in personnel preparation. At present, IDEA-Part D supports more than 40 technical assistance and dissemination projects in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
Deaf-Blind Centers, funded under the Amendments to Title VI of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1967 (PL 90-247), were among the first Federal investments in technical assistance and dissemination projects. These Centers, which were part of a national response to children with disabilities caused by the rubella epidemics of 1964, provided extensive diagnostic, educational, and social services. Other early investments included the Regional Resource Centers, also funded under Title VI of ESEA in 1967, which provided staff and facilities for short-term services, such as the children's diagnosis and temporary residential placement. These Regional Centers also provided long-term consultation on strategic program development and service coordination, including helping to develop and implement programs and services that were available from state and local educational authorities.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, EHA and IDEA have supported the coordination of technical assistance nationally. Today IDEA-Part D supports the Federal Resource Center and six Regional Resource Centers that focus on assisting state education agencies in the systemic improvement of education programs, practices, and policies that affect children and youth with disabilities. IDEA-Part D also supports the collection and dissemination of information about effective practices through national clearinghouses, such as the National Information Center on Children and Youth with Disabilities, the National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education, and the National Transition Alliance. Other IDEA technical assistance projects focus on children with disabilities who are of a particular age, such as the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System, or who have particular special needs, such as the National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who are Deaf-Blind. Finally, IDEA-Part D supports technical assistance on emerging national policy concerns, such as the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO), to provide national leadership in monitoring educational results for all students, including students with disabilities.
The 1997 Amendments to IDEA continued the Federal commitment to technical assistance projects that address critical national needs. For example, consistent with the Act's emphasis on improving results for children and families, IDEA-Part D supports national centers for technical assistance that work directly with local schools and teachers to integrate research-validated practices into classroom instruction. These new centers address such critical issues as improving reading instruction for elementary and middle school students with disabilities, creating effective learning environments to improve student behavior and discipline, transition planning, and supporting teachers in learning about and using technology to individualize student instruction and support high achievement. (See side bar: Schoolwide Discipline Programs.)
Schoolwide Discipline Programs
The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at the University of Oregon assists local schools in identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective behavioral practices, including schoolwide discipline programs. Results indicate that the Center's technical assistance can enhance schools' capacity to address behavioral challenges, diminish disruptions, reclaim instructional time, maximize use of time and learning opportunities, and enhance quality and efficiency of instruction. With Center support, PBIS practices are now being used successfully in approximately 400 public schools throughout in the United States.
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Families of children with disabilities are essential partners in developing and implementing effective programs and services for early childhood and special education. Toward that end, today, IDEA-Part D investments support over 90 projects to empower families, including Parent Training and Information Centers (PTICs) in each of the 50 states.
Federal partnerships with families began with early advocacy work on behalf of children with disabilities by The ARC and other family-based organizations in the 1950s. Over the ensuing decades, parents of children with disabilities have been increasingly recognized as their child's first and best advocates. This recognition has led to numerous IDEA-supported initiatives to empower families to engage in active, working partnerships with the early interventionists, teachers, therapists, and other professionals who work with their children each day.
Over the last 25 years, IDEA research has delineated key principles to guide families and professionals: treat families with respect and give families information, training, respite care, and a family support network. This stream of research has shown that the nature and the quality of partnerships are affected by the degree of congruence between the family's objectives and those of the service provider.
The 1990 Amendments to IDEA (P.L. 101-476) established the PTIC system nationally. These projects support persons who work directly with families to enable the parents' full and effective participation with professionals who work with their children with disabilities. Services provided to parents include individual meetings, workshops, and other training sessions. The PTICs also disseminate publications and newsletters to families across the country. The 1997 Amendments to IDEA authorized support for Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), to support traditionally under-served families, as well as a national center to coordinate PTIC and CPRC activities nationally. (See side bar: Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers.) At present, over 3 million parents of children with disabilities are contacting these IDEA-Part D supported projects each year.
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Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers
The Alliance Project provides technical assistance for establishing, developing, and coordinating a national network of Parent Training and Information Centers and Community Parent Resource Centers supported under IDEA. This project, which consists of four regional centers, is coordinated by the PACER Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is working to establish collaborative relationships with national clearinghouses, regional resource centers, and national dissemination projects in order to identify strategies and best practices for working with the parents, families, teachers, and schools in states and localities across the country.
As we move into the 21st century, continuing IDEA-Part D investments can provide Federal leadership to ongoing efforts to empower families of children with disabilities. Part D investments are demonstrating how effective intervention programs can meet the needs of diverse families, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Such efforts are likely to increase national awareness of the vast differences not only between but also within cultural groups. Such awareness can contribute to improved family-professional partnerships that take into account different family lifestyles and beliefs as effective programs and services for diverse learners are developed across the country.
Accomplishments in implementing IDEA are due, in part, to ongoing efforts to track national progress in increasing access to services and improving results for children with disabilities and their families. Realizing that one characteristic of good research is uncovering future areas of inquiry, Federal policymakers responsible for IDEA-Part D investments have been proactive in supporting numerous national evaluation studies over the last 25 years.
Shortly after passage of Public Law 94-142, BEH developed six policy questions for evaluating the Act. (See side bar: Policy Questions Addressed by IDEA Special Studies.) The Special Studies Program, as well as much of the information contained in the annual reports to Congress on the implementation of Public Law 94-142 and IDEA, were conceptualized within this framework.
Policy Questions Addressed by IDEA Special Studies
Source: 1st Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of PL 94-142, 1979
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During the last 25 years, IDEA special studies have addressed an extraordinarily broad range of implementation and related policy issues. More than 35 special studies have been commissioned to investigate concerns about children, including the accuracy of child-count data submitted by the states, the nature and quality of children's Individual Educational Programs, and the impact of IDEA on students' employment and independent living status after high school. These studies also assessed national trends associated with procedures used to prevent the erroneous classification of students with disabilities, decreases in the number of children educated in segregated schools and residential facilities, and the effects of using alternative definitions and terminology in educating children with emotional disturbance.
Current IDEA investments in evaluation continue this history of support for national studies to assess progress. Notable ongoing projects include studies of the transition of children with disabilities after preschool, middle school, and high school; the number and quality of personnel educating these children; the cost of meeting federal requirements for providing a free, appropriate public education for all children with disabilities; and state and local progress in implementing the 1997 Amendments to IDEA. Together, these previous and ongoing evaluation studies will provide the most comprehensive evaluation of the impact of IDEA on children with disabilities.
The 1997 Amendments to IDEA authorized State Improvement Grants (SIGs) to promote statewide systemic reforms that will improve results for children with disabilities. Individual states apply for SIG funds, based on an analysis of their specific needs to improve early intervention, special education, and general education programs. In addition, SIGs must be implemented through a partnership that includes all major stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and local and state education agencies.
Today, SIG monies, authorized under IDEA-Part D, are being used to support both pre-service and in-service professional development activities. For example, states have used SIG monies to develop training systems based on distance learning principles to address personnel shortages and to assist Institutes of Higher Education to expand their capacity to produce special education teachers and early intervention providers. (See side bar: Utah State Improvement Grant.)
Utah State Improvement Grant
The Utah SIG is creating a quality, decision-making infrastructure that supports delivering effective programs and services in rural communities. These issues include reducing the isolation of both professionals and families living in rural areas, including their access to research-based practices and distance education. Programs and services for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities, as well as children with significant disabilities of all ages, is featured. Key, planned activities include a state-of -the-art desktop, video-conferencing system to be implemented throughout the state.
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Although a great deal of progress has been made, especially in improving access to programs and services for children with disabilities and their families, much work is left to be done. Toward that end, continuing investments in IDEA-Part D programs can play a critical role in strengthening the national infrastructure of support for translating research into improved practice in early childhood and special education.
Our ever-changing society is likely to need further inquiry by IDEA researchers about effective practices that contribute to improved programs and services. There is, in particular, a need to develop and validate practices for diverse learners, including children of different ages, with different types and severity of disabilities, who come from families with different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Similarly, there is a continuing need to expand and coordinate training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities that support a "pipeline" of research knowledge that leads to improved practice. Such efforts should accommodate differences in circumstances and needs in different states and localities across the country.
National progress over the last 25 years attests to the potential to succeed in preparing future generations of children and families for tomorrow's challenges. With continued support from IDEA-Part D programs, states and localities can continue to refine and improve our nation's ability to meet the needs of all of its citizens.
Celebrating the First 25 Years and Looking to the Future
A Guide to the Individualized Education Program: This guide explains the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, which is considered to be one of the most critical elements to ensure effective teaching, learning, and better results for a children with disabilities. The guide is designed to help teachers, parents, and others--in fact, anyone involved in the education of a child with a disability--develop and carry out an IEP. The information in this guide is based on what is required by our nation's special education law--the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 36 pps. Available through EDPUBS. http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP/index.html
IDEA'97 Partnerships Projects - Discover IDEA CD '00: This CD provides information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997. Contents include the Statue in entirety (PL 105-17), complete Final Regulations and analysis of comments taken verbatim from the Federal Register of 3/12/99. Also included are supporting materials developed by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education (topical briefs on critical issues and presentation slides for use in training) and other resource materials. Available through the ASPIIRE or ILIAD IDEA Partnership Project at The Council for Exceptional Children. To order call: Toll Free: 1(877) CEC-IDEA. TDD: (703) 264-9480; $7.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Bundle pack (10 CDs) for $63.60. www.ideapractices.org
Twenty-first Annual Report to Congress: Each year, OSEP prepares its Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This Report provides an annual overview and statistical information on the status of individuals with disabilities in the education system. Available through EDPUBS. http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP/
National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO): The National Center on Educational Outcomes provides national leadership in the participation of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students in national and state assessments, standards-setting efforts, and graduation requirements. NCEO-University of Minnesota -350 Elliott Hall -75 East River Road -Minneapolis, MN 55455. Phone: 612/624-8561 Fax: 612/624-0879. http://www.coled.umn.edu/nceo
Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) About PBIS: The Center has been established by the Office of Special Education Programs to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices. 5262 University of Oregon Eugene, OR 97403-5262--(541) 346-2505 phone (541) 346-5689 fax Email: firstname.lastname@example.org--Web: http://www.pbis.org. Applying Positive Behavioral Support and Functional Behavioral Assessment in Schools--Publication of the OSEP Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. (1999). This Technical Assistance Guide was developed to provide educators, parents, policymakers, community agents, and others with guidance on: (a) Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and (b) Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). Although both concepts have a long history of research and application, they were introduced formally to the education mainstream in 1997 when amendments to the Education with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA'97) became law (P.L. 105-17).
Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE): Direction Service P.O. Box 51360 Eugene, OR 97405-0906 T: (541) 686-5060 Fax: (541) 686-5063: CADRE, The National Center on Dispute Resolution provides technical assistance to state departments of education on implementation of the mediation requirements under IDEA '97. CADRE also supports parents, educators and administrators to benefit from the full continuum of dispute resolution options that can prevent and resolve conflict and ultimately lead to informed partnerships that focus on results for children and youth. Keys to Access: Encouraging the Use of Mediation by Families from Diverse Backgrounds. This document is a monograph intended to provide educators with guidance to help them understand why some families may not participate in mediation, and strategies for increasing the participation of families from diverse backgrounds. Keys to Access offers practical recommendations that school personnel can use to develop culturally appropriate dispute resolution systems." http://www.directionservice.org/cadre
NICHCY: National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities. NICHCY is an Office of Special Education Programs-sponsored national information and referral center that provides information on disabilities and disability-related issues for families, educators, and other professionals. Its special focus is children and youth (birth to age 22). PO Box 1492, Washington DC 20013-1492 1-800-695-0285 (V/TTY) (202) 882-8200 ( V/TTY) Email: email@example.com; www.nichcy.org All NICHCY publications are available on line in text-only and PDF formats.
Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools: This document was produced in collaboration with the National Association of School Psychologists in response to the President's call for the development of an early warning guide to help "adults reach out to troubled children quickly and effectively." This guide has been distributed to every district in the nation to help them identify children in need of intervention into potentially violent emotions and behaviors. 1-877-4ED-PUBS, http://www.ed.gov
Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide: This action guide is to help schools and other local and state entities to implement Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools. The information in this guide supports and offers guidance to those working to implement the recommendations for creating safer and more effective schools outlined in the initial publication. 1-877-4ED-PUBS, http://www.ed.gov
National Transition Network OSERS-funded Products About NTN: The National Transition Network provides technical assistance and evaluation services to states with grants for Transition Systems Change and School-to-Work. The National Transition Network, Institute on Community Integration (UAP)--University of Minnesota 103 U-Tech Center--1313 Fifth Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, 612-627-4008 (voice), 612-627-1998 (fax). http://ici2.coled.umn.edu/ntn/
The Alliance - Parent Technical Assistance Center: The Alliance Project coordinates the network of state parent training centers helping to provide quality information and training to parents and families. PACER Center 612-827-2966--4826 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55417-1098 www.taalliance.org
Partnership Projects: The four partnership projects were designed to share information, knowledge, and best practices to key audiences: ASPIIRE serves teachers and related service providers www.ideapractices.org; ILIAD serves local school administrators www.ideapractices.org; FAPE serves parents www.fape.org; and PMP serves policymakers www.ideapolicy.org/pmp.htm