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Almost $1 Million Awarded to University of South Florida for Special Education Technical Assistance Center


The U.S. Department of Education announced today a $999,490 grant to the University of South Florida to create a national special education technical assistance center.

With help from its partners, the University of Connecticut and University of Oregon, South Florida will establish a Center on State Implementation and Scaling-Up of Evidence-Based Practices (SISEP) at its Tampa campus to initially work with six states to give local school districts the know-how for building education programs that work for all students, including those with disabilities.

The six states will be identified by next March. It is anticipated that the lessons learned from those half-dozen states will be shared and used by other states nationwide.

“We believe that the insight and expertise gained through the center’s intense work with six states will help all states implement and scale up evidence-based practices more effectively,” said Patty Guard, acting director of the Office of Special Education Programs. “The grant recipients at the University of South Florida, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Oregon are well-qualified to do this work. There is strong support for their practical experience and previous research in this area.”

Guard said the project has evolved from significant planning this past year between the department’s special education office and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The use of promising methods of academic instruction and social-behavior instruction and supports—“evidence-based practices”—is a hallmark of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Both laws strongly encourage states and school districts to rely on tried-and-proven strategies to help students achieve their academic potential and promote excellence in American education.

At the new center, the goal will be to work with states to help them engage in extensive collaboration with existing technical assistance centers. The center will also work intensively with staff members in each state to help states broaden effective evidence-based practices until they reach all children who could benefit from them.

The core of the center’s work will be aimed at increasing the technical assistance capacity of state education agencies to facilitate adoption of evidence-based practices in schools and sustaining and spreading the use of those practices.

Telephone conference calls with state education officials will be a common means to spread the word and exchange ideas on what works.

Center staff will travel to states that request more detailed information. These visits will be used to discuss vision, strategies, requirements and options for meeting the requirements for working with the center. National meetings will also be held to keep all states up to date.

For more details, see the original invitation for proposals published in the Federal Register at


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