Focus Areas

2022-2023 Special Education Focus Areas

Best-Practice Programming For ALL, Birth-Age 21
Increase understanding of Best Practices related to programming, including staff roles, and necessary knowledge and skills.

  • Support Best Practice training and programming for all areas of need.
  • Support Functional (practical, productive, needs/skills based) IEP meetings that increase collaboration among team members.
  • Particular Support for NLSEC initiatives:
    • Social/Emotional Learning (Boy’s town, Mental Health trainings, Recommended Practices for ASD, etc.)
    • Early Childhood Curriculums and Recommended Practices
    • Secondary Transition/Functional Programming

Increase understanding of roles, responsibilities, and skills paraprofessionals need as part of whole teams supporting students with disabilities.

  • Guide thoughtful use of paraprofessionals; implementing student plans based on data and need (initially and annually); develop fade out plans with goal of student independence.
  • Provide framework for paraprofessional training documentation.
  • Support teachers and staff in developing effective schedules to utilize paraprofessionals efficiently.
  • Provide training to student teams related to: specific disabilities, team member roles and responsibilities, job coaching, child-specific needs.

Collaboration with General Education
Increase knowledge and understanding of Special Education Services through training and collaboration.

  • Provide assistance to all districts for effective Problem-Solving Teams.
  • Increase understanding and implementation of scientifically research-based pre-referral interventions (SRBIs).
  • Train teams on the use of data collection systems as part of the pre-referral and progress monitoring processes.
  • Offer guidance for Tier 2-3 interventions, including tools and strategies to support Tier 1 learning for all learners, all the time.
  • Increase the understanding of everyone’s roles and responsibilities for educating students with disabilities through training and support.
  • Offer disability specific trainings to all school staff including training on   considerations of sensory assessment, research-based interventions, IEPs that address common core, and early intervention.

Data-Based Decision Making
Increase knowledge, skill base, and practice to identify suspected and continued needs of students using a Data-Based Decision-Making Process, team approach and coordination.

  • Increase skills and practice of thoughtful interventions and evaluation planning.
  • Increase competency in collectively synthesizing information (focus, align, and articulate) from the evaluation data.
  • Assist teachers in developing comprehensive present levels of performance.
  • Provide training to write goals and objectives that easily lend themselves to on-going data collection.

Secondary Transition
Promote and guide implementation of best practice secondary transition (life after high school!) programming throughout the member districts of the NLSEC.

  • Assist teachers in implementing transition curriculum.
  • Guide, advise and support direct instruction in the area of transition.
  • Align Work Based Learning programs with MDE and WIOA guidelines.
  • Continue building a robust WBL program in all member districts by defining the parameters and goals of the WBL program.

Assistive Technology
Educate and Support staff/teams through the use of technology in order to support student learning and growth.

  • Support staff and student learning by using Digital Collaboration (i.e. Google Docs, Forms, Email, Voxer, Google hangouts, Zoom, etc.).
  • Continue to build capacity through AT trainings (i.e. SETT Framework, SETT meeting Implementation, yearly AT consideration, AT Decision documentation form, etc.
  • Encourage and support teams in the data collection process using AT (i.e. gathering data, decision making, utilizing data to support student present levels and goals, etc.) .

Interagency Coordination and Collaboration
Participate in order to provide eligible children with disabilities and their families with a coordinated, multi-disciplinary, and intervention services that is family-centered, community based and culturally competent.

  • Continue to host regular Northern Lights Interagency Council and Sub-Committee meetings while and work to increase attendance from various stakeholders.
  • Help improve Social Emotional Strategies in the classroom by increasing knowledge to sped and gen ed staff regarding behavioral strategies and the impact of ACES on learning.
  • Promote and facilitate opportunities, events, resources, and publications as a way of providing information to families of students with disabilities.
  • Build communication between educational and the medical setting, including the role of related services.
  • Provide access to Early Intervention resources and referrals.

Monitoring of Due Process and Paperwork
Provide continuing guidance to successfully implement and complete due process paperwork according to legal guidelines.

  • Ensure positive, productive communication between staff to support and problem-solve together.
  • Provide training opportunities on required monitoring components.


The purpose of the Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative is to provide, by cooperative efforts, comprehensive special education services within member districts for children and youth having significant learning needs due to disability or developmental delay.