Every school year, states ask parents of students receiving special education services to reflect on whether their child’s school facilitates parent involvement as a means for improving services and results for children with disabilities. States report this information (Indicator 8 of their State Performance Plan) to the Office of Special Education Programs, as a part of federal reporting requirements for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

Gibson Consulting Group has worked with state education agencies in Texas and New Hampshire to execute this effort, and to assist school districts in those states with understanding and making use of their survey results. Gibson helped both states improve upon federal requirements by applying rigorous research standards, developing relevant, concise questionnaires from nationally validated measures, and working closely with stakeholders to reinforce state priorities in special education services.

Our research team creates individualized, district-level reports of results, so that districts can understand how their own parents from their own schools experience family-school partnerships (see the images on this page of the various ways that we have presented information to school district staff). We also conduct trainings to help stakeholders understand survey results as well as how to use them to make improvements or to share successes.

Gibson encourages stakeholders to identify additional areas where parent input on special education services would provide value to schools and districts, and then incorporate those measures into the same survey effort (e.g., perceptions of service quality and ratings of whether services meet student needs). This approach allows states to report required indicator results, but also gives districts actionable information to help improve programming, relationships with families, and student services.