The Illinois State Board of Education has stated that “in successful districts and schools, there is a collective commitment to collaboratively identify, plan, implement, monitor, evaluate, and communicate changes necessary to continuously improve student learning for all students.”  Further, it is essential to ensure that students with IEPs have opportunities to benefit from high-quality instruction, to reach the same standards as all students, and to leave school prepared to successfully transition to post-school learning, living, and working. The Critical Components Tool for Special Education Programs was developed as a result of an extensive literature review to assist school leaders in facilitating conversations, reviewing, and improving the quality of special education programs as a key component of continuous improvement efforts at both the district and school level.  
The Critical Components Tool for Special Education Programs offers guidance to educators and administrators when developing, implementing, and evaluating quality programs and services for students with IEPs.  The tool identifies twelve domains to consider for effective programs. Under each domain is an indicator and below there are descriptors of the indicator that define quality school experiences with the goal of improving post-school outcomes for all students with IEPs.  This tool is designed to assist districts and schools to review practices and to identify and act on areas where improvement is desired or needed and should not be interpreted as a policy or regulation. 
This tool is meant to be used in conjunction with a district or school continuous improvement process that reviews multiple measures including a variety of data and other assessment tools. It can be utilized in conjunction with the Illinois Quality Framework as a companion tool to look deeper into the area of special education and special education programming. The tool may be utilized in its entirety or the team may select specific domains on which to focus. Action plans resulting from this analysis should be integrated with the district or school improvement plan. 
In summary, the purpose of the Critical Components Tool for Special Education Programs is to assist districts and schools with the following goals: 
  • Identify a site’s current implementation level
  • Identify areas that are effective and those in need of improvement
  • Support the development of goals and action planning in critical areas of special education programming

Download the full Tool Below:

The Tool

Listen to the Tool Training Here for instructions: Critical Components Tool Training