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IEP Improvement Project: Empowering Massachusetts Schools to Improve Service to Students

Photo of a mother and daughter speaking with an educator

Monkey Business Images /

Project Name
IEP Improvement Project: Students and Families First Coalition

Project Description

CAST, the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and BlackPrint Education Consulting are working with Massachusetts schools to strengthen the IEP process among a cohort of early adopter schools and districts. Our team—which we’ve dubbed the Students and Families First Coalition—brings together experts in special education, inclusion, and instructional effectiveness; improvement science; family engagement; and culturally responsive practices to assist schools in looking at special education practices and systems. We will engage with these practices through a UDL lens, paying particular attention to equity and student and family engagement. This improvement project enables participating schools and districts to move toward an approach to IEP development and instructional practice grounded in a deep understanding of each learner.

The Students and Families First Coalition will support schools to achieve four main goals:

  • Use various sources of data to identify areas for improvement in the IEP process and improve outcomes for students with disabilities
  • Collaborate with all stakeholders to create a strategic IEP improvement plan relevant to the school context.
  • Strategically implement the new IEP process.
  • Use high leverage instructional practices to ensure that students with disabilities achieve academic success

Our multi-year professional development initiative will achieve these goals with implementation science as its foundation and equity at its core, supporting participants to analyze data through various protocols, work closely with families and caregivers as an integral part of the team, participating in on-site job-embedded design rounds, and using design thinking methods to think outside the box.


2020 – 2023


Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education


Rennie Center
Federation for Children with Special Needs
BlackPrint Consulting

Project Leadership

Melissa Sanjeh, Project Lead


For more information about this project, please contact Melissa Sanjeh.

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