skip to content | CalSTAT

CalSTAT Technical Assistance and Training

IDEAS that Work!California Department of Education, Special Education Division’s special project, California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) is funded through a contract with the Napa County Office of Education. CalSTAT is partially funded from federal funds, State Grants #H027A080116A. Additional federal funds are provided from a federal competitively awarded State Personnel Development Grant to California (#H323A070011) provided from the U.S. Department of Education Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U. S. Department of Education.

The California Advisory Commission on Special Education Annual Public Report 2016–2017


The California Advisory Commission on Special Education is committed to a vision of one system of education that includes special education as an integral part, and that considers students with disabilities as general education students first. The commission’s charge is to provide guidance on policy, legislation, initiatives, and any educational efforts that further this vision. 

The commission has identified four priority areas to serve as lenses through which to focus its work: assessment, unified and coherent systems, parent and family engagement, and transition to adult life. Each of these topics represents numerous considerations, and each aspect of each topic overlaps with and influences the others. It is the commission’s hope that California can reshape its complex, interrelated array of efforts and initiatives into a coherent system of education for all children.

Reports from the State Director of Special Education

During its first meeting of this reporting year, the ACSE bid a happy retirement to longtime public servant Chris Drouin, who was acting director of the Special Education Division (SED) of the California Department of Education (CDE) through much of 2016. The commission then welcomed new director Kristin Wright, who also serves as the ACSE’s executive secretary. 

In subsequent meetings, the ACSE looked forward to Wright’s reports about the evolution of collaborative efforts within CDE. The ACSE appreciates Wright’s ongoing commitment to aligning resources and technical assistance with state priorities and to ensuring evidence-based practices at every level. The commission views Wright’s personal commitment to universal design for learning (UDL) and her efforts to incorporate UDL into California’s plans for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as evidence of a new, solid footing for special education within the context of general education. As a mother of children with disabilities, Wright weaves the personal and the human into all aspects of her work, particularly in her commitment to ensuring that schools prepare all students for adult life and living-wage employment. Her ability to breathe this personal perspective into policy, and her candor about challenges, will support the commission, strengthen the SED, ensure quality programs and services for students with disabilities, and benefit all children. 

Assessment and Accountability

The ACSE supports initiatives to ensure accurate and transparent assessments that lead to accountability for the school progress of students with disabilities. At each of its 2016–2017 meetings, the commission heard presentations on the state’s new accountability system. The ACSE has supported the California State Board of Education’s (SBE’s) work in its efforts to 

The ACSE also appreciates the state’s efforts to strengthen local education agencies’ (LEAs) strategic planning processes by requiring LEAs to continuously revise and evaluate their efforts through Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) in order to improve school outcomes for all students. 

As it devises the LCAP’s evaluation rubrics and maps them to the state’s priorities, as identified in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and indicator standards, the state’s goal is to provide an accurate picture of how our students, schools, and districts are performing. The ACSE is fully appreciative of the SBE’s commitment to creating this system and appreciates the daunting nature of the task.

The ACSE also voiced its support for expanding the definition of what constitutes an alternative school and for developing specific indicators for these schools to chart the progress of their students.

Every Student Succeeds Act

The ACSE followed the development of CDE’s response to the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA: the federal general education law), concluding that California already has in place much of what this law requires. For example, the ESSA requires the state to have challenging academic standards and assessments; California has adopted its rigorous Common Core State Standards, and instruction for all students with disabilities will be grounded in those standards. The ESSA requires the state to support excellence among its educators; California’s Greatness by Design is currently guiding the work of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to improve teacher preparation and to develop a system of cross-preparation for all teachers that can bridge the gaps between general education and special education. And through the LCFF and in alignment with the ESSA, California is developing a comprehensive system of support for all student populations.

Aligning these many accountability efforts promises an unprecedented degree of efficiency and coherence for the state, but only if this system includes all students. ACSE commissioners remain particularly concerned about the status of students who receive a certificate of completion. In the past, these students have not been counted in high school graduation rates; as a result, they are not counted as successful. The ACSE believes that what we count matters and that not including these students in the state’s graduation rates erodes attitudes about a unified system of education and keeps some students with disabilities from being considered full participants in that system. The ESSA allows the state to count them as graduates if California develops a diploma for them. The ACSE is hopeful that CDE will have created this diploma by fall 2018, when the accountability system needs to be in place.

The ACSE has also puzzled over the federal requirement that students with disabilities must complete high school within four years in order to be counted as true graduates. Yet the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows these students to be served in the educational system until they are 22. The commission would like to see this inherent contradiction resolved. The ACSE is pleased that the state’s Community of Practice for Transition is working to develop different kinds of graduation and diploma standards that may contribute to a system that allows the achievement of older students to be honored.  

State Systemic Improvement Plan

The federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which oversees the use of IDEA money, has always focused on states’ compliance with federal regulations. OSEP has added a focus on student outcomes and performance through a State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP). Since all educational efforts in the state are guided by the Local Control Funding Formula, California’s SSIP is aligned to that formula’s plans and will focus on how students with disabilities fare under the new funding and accountability structure. The SED is currently developing the implementation and evaluation components of its plan. 

Working from OSEP’s mandate to identify those LEAs that are not showing improved outcomes for students with disabilities, the SED has created as part of the SSIP a tiered system of technical assistance and support, including self-assessment tools, to be used based on each LEA’s need. The primary goals of this assistance are to improve the quality of instruction, increase instructional time, and create a process that supports continuous improvement. The ACSE has formally supported the SSIP as it aligns special education accountability with general education accountability. The ACSE also supports the plan’s design to use multiple rather than single measures of evaluation, even in the face of OSEP’s insistence on a single academic measure (i.e., the percentage of students with disabilities who belong to one of the three LCAP subgroups [English language learners, students living in poverty, and foster youth] and who meet or exceed standards on English language arts or mathematics). 

The ACSE applauds the SED for its refusal to oversimplify accountability measures and for recognizing the importance of recording authentic progress for students with disabilities.

The ACSE is studying in particular the more rigorous standards OSEP has established for determining significant disproportionality. These new standards will  increase the number of LEAs that will be identified as needing targeted assistance to address this issue. 

The ACSE is aware of the complexities involved in efforts to determine the root causes of significant disproportionality, as well as the implications that the resulting identification, suspensions, and expulsions can have for the life trajectory of a child. The commission holds concerns about the validity of disproportionality data that is “self-reported” by districts, particularly reports of authentic parent engagement. The ACSE is hopeful that the state is able to refine its data dashboard and reporting system to accurately record an LEA’s efforts and capture the nuances of what accurate identification, appropriate placement, and educational progress truly mean for students with disabilities. The ACSE also anticipates the provision of effective training for teachers and school leaders so that they can skillfully evaluate behavior, create positive school climates, and support all students in realizing their full potential.

In general, the ACSE is optimistic that the state’s accountability system will indicate when students are not being appropriately served, and that the state will then be able to provide technical assistance that incorporates only proven interventions. The ACSE sees this challenge as an important opportunity to look beyond compliance to the first value of school progress for all students.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress:  CAASPP

The majority of students with disabilities in California now take the same assessment as their peers—the Smarter Balanced assessments. As CDE refines these assessments, the ACSE has appreciated the Assessment Division’s efforts to enhance the accessibility features, which are critical to the effectiveness of the assessments for students with disabilities. The ACSE also appreciates the careful work being done to provide thorough training for teachers who administer the tests so that they can better prepare their students to succeed.

California Alternate Assessment

The California Alternate Assessment for English language arts and mathematics will for the first time give students with significant cognitive disabilities a test that is aligned with the same standards that guide the Smarter Balanced assessments for all other students. The ACSE sees this assessment as a mark of significant advancement toward making LEAs fully accountable for the school progress of all students. 

The SBE has approved for the Alternate Assessment a science component that is linked to the California Next Generation Science Standards and that is  embedded in instruction. As the division pilots this test, the ACSE appreciates the efforts being made to align the test with authentic classroom engagement, to ground it in information and skills that will actually serve students, to involve parents, to be sensitive to the developmental stages of students, and to provide appropriate training and feedback for the teachers who administer  the test.

The ACSE is hopeful that, while the alternate assessments are not yet aligned with a curriculum, the state will be able to work from the valuable materials and resources available through the National Center and State Collaborative to create an appropriately challenging and engaging curriculum in California for students with developmental and cognitive disabilities.   

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The ACSE is watching with interest the efforts of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) as it contributes to a single, unified system through its teacher preparation requirements. The CTC is revising its Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) and redefining a “common trunk” of professional preparation and knowledge for all teachers in the state. The CTC has already created new TPEs for general educators, which support beginning teachers to create inclusive learning environments and provide effective instruction and assessment for all students, including students with disabilities. The CTC is currently revising the TPEs for special educators in order to make it possible for all teachers to serve any student they could benefit.

At a time of growing teacher  shortages, the ACSE appreciates the complexities of the CTC’s challenge to sufficiently prepare special educators without unduly burdening those who seek to serve in this challenging field.

Unified, Coherent System of Education

The ACSE is committed to one coherent system of education that gives students with disabilities a quality education and prepares them for independent adult living. To this end, the commission advocates for and supports initiatives that promote inclusion; high school graduation; college and career readiness; community involvement; ongoing access to necessary educational services; and adequate funding. In light of this commitment, the commission has closely watched the progress of the California Department of Education’s One System Action Team, which was formed to ensure a collaborative, department-wide focus on building the capacity of all public schools to implement proven and promising research-based programs and practices to serve all children. The team, with representatives from 12 CDE divisions, will serve as an LCAP support team and coordinate its efforts with those of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), which has $20 million to provide targeted professional development to help LEAs understand how to apply the state’s evaluation rubrics and to develop and implement their local plans. The ACSE is supportive of the department’s efforts to work closely with the CCEE to integrate, coordinate, and align messages, initiatives, support, and technical assistance across all divisions.

The ACSE understands that accountability systems are only as effective as the mechanisms in place to address the needs and shortcomings that the reporting system reveals. Certainly the commission is pleased that students with disabilities are named specifically as a subgroup to be tracked in the LCAP accountability rubrics, and that their insufficient school progress can trigger supports and technical assistance. Ultimately, the ACSE is optimistic about the approach CDE is taking to coordinate and align all of its technical assistance efforts for issues related to special education. The ACSE is also appreciative of the department’s insistence on using evidence-based practice and a multitiered system of supports (MTSS) to guide and inform every level of intervention.

Special Education Finance

The ACSE studied California’s 2016–2017 Budget Act for Education, which granted more than $30 million dollars to support the continued development and scale-up of MTSS throughout the state and to provide the necessary guidance and technical assistance to implement MTSS at the local level. With research showing that students with disabilities demonstrate improved school outcomes when they are educated in inclusive settings, and as MTSS enhances the capacity of schools to provide these settings, the ACSE is supportive of this budgetary commitment. 

This budget also increased the number of preschool slots by 25,000, giving priority to children with disabilities. Given the confirmed benefit of early intervention and quality preschool in the lives of all children, the ACSE viewed this increase as an important advance in the state’s priorities. 

This same budget, however, decreased funding for special education by $4.9 million, reflecting a decrease in the state’s average daily student attendance. Since special education funding is based on the average daily attendance of all students, the ACSE respects this decision by the state. But how to fund special programs and how to ensure that these programs are effectively serving students with disabilities remains a challenge. California lags nationally in the educational progress of students with disabilities in inclusive settings. And postschool outcomes for these students remain dismal—in their ability to participate in higher education, gain living-wage employment, and live independently.

The LCFF requires LEAs to develop plans to improve the school outcomes of all of its students and holds LEAs accountable to deliver on those plans, the progress of students with disabilities included. Yet while the school progress of students with disabilities is tracked in the new accountability rubrics for the LCAP, the LCFF did not include special education funding in its plans. More than 20 separate programs guide the money spent on services and supports for students with disabilities, and each of these programs has its own formula and set of restrictions. The law’s underpinnings of subsidiarity and its fundamental commitment to coordinated and consolidated resources, services, and initiatives at the local level does, however, suggest a financial design that could join together existing and disparate funding sources, —all in an effort to more efficiently and effectively serve all students. 

A report from the Public Policy Institute of California identified a number of challenges that the state faces in educating students with disabilities. Special education funding has not kept pace with program costs, which have increased more than a billion dollars during the last decade and which have been further challenged by an increase in the number of children identified with such high-cost disabilities as autism. 

The state’s special education administrative entities—Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPAs)—serve as the funding intermediaries to LEAs and COEs.  But funding rates are not equal among SELPAs, and disparities exist in the identification patterns and practices among them, as well, even though special education funding is based on the assumption that there is an even occurrence of disability and identification across the state. 

While the Public Policy Institute report found that funding through SELPAs conflicted with LCFF’s focus on LEAs and local control, the report was not in favor of eliminating SELPAs or of funding special education categorically but rather of funding special education through LEAs by integrating special education funding, along with funding for mental health services, into the larger LCAP planning processes. 

The commission applauded the State Budget Office’s statewide hearings, which sought public input on how to align local control and the principles of subsidiarity with special education financing before proposing any budgetary or administrative reform. The ACSE also appreciates the position of the SELPAs and their directors, who believe that “moving the money from one pot to another will not increase funding” and that changing the current system would put at risk many important efforts that support students with disabilities. 

The ACSE is in favor of school funding mechanisms that are equitable, transparent, easy to understand, and focused on the needs of students. The commission formally recommended that special education dollars not be rolled into the LCFF. The commission believes that the SELPA model can be effective if SELPAs adopt additional measures to increase accountability and transparency, and if they take up the charge of facilitating a unified system of education. The ACSE is hopeful that the SELPAs can be true to this vision and contribute in significant ways to the ultimate goal: positive school outcomes for students with disabilities.

Mental Health

The ACSE has endorsed the work of Breaking Barriers, a statewide initiative to improve the system of care for children and families who need social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health supports. The ACSE understands that the current system is fragmented and difficult to access for individuals and families in crisis, especially for those with few resources, language barriers, or little education. The goal of Breaking Barriers is to create a unified system so that there is essentially “no wrong door” for a parent or child to enter when seeking help. The ACSE also understands the urgency of the problem, since mental health issues create the greatest barrier to school success for a child. 

In support of Breaking Barriers, the commission formed an ongoing Mental Health Subcommittee Ad Hoc Workgroup, which met before each of the  ACSE’s regular meetings during 2016–2017. The members consulted with CDE about forming a council to align the entire state system of initiatives and supports for students with mental health needs. The group is working to address the lack of appropriate data to inform these efforts; to develop and disseminate model mental health programs that support children in preschool through third grade; and to promote interagency agreements with LEAs, county mental health departments, probation offices, and others working to support children and families in need.

The ACSE is encouraged by the renewed interest in mental health services and has studied several pieces of legislation that have emerged. Assembly Bill 834 (O’Donnell) would establish an Office of School-Based Health Programs within CDE to provide leadership and assistance to school districts’ mental health programs. The new office would also advise on the delivery of school-based Medi-Cal services, which are often complicated and underused as a result. Senate Bill 191 (Beal) requires LEAs to coordinate mental health care services with county agencies and to create programs that include, among other things, targeted interventions for students with identified social-emotional and behavioral needs, whether or not they have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and to provide these services on campuses. 

The commission also followed closely the Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) that was enacted through Assembly Bill 403 (Stone). The ACSE arranged several presentations to explain the implications of this reform. This legislation was designed to improve services for foster youth by placing them in the most stable home environments possible and allowing only short-term placements in group homes. Foster youths who are connected to a family and to their communities typically fare better in their social-emotional, behavioral, and academic progress and in life-span outcomes than children in group homes. AB 403 also transformed existing group homes into places where youth who are not ready to live with families can receive short-term, intensive treatment. In addition, the legislation provides targeted training and support for resource families (formerly known as “foster families”) so that they are better prepared to care for the youth living with them. 

Of particular interest to the commission is the fact that 25 to 40 percent of these foster children have IEPs; in some communities that number is as high as 75 percent. The ACSE is aware that children in the foster care system often have an wide range of complex needs and that there is no single formula of care and education that can be applied successfully to them all. The ACSE is hopeful that the IEP will serve these students well, along with the adult professionals whose job it is to determine the most effective and individualized set of supports and services. 

With these concerns about the mental and social-emotional health of children, the ACSE invited the Samueli Academy to give a presentation about its program. The academy coordinates education, child welfare, and social services through a “whole child approach” to meeting the needs of students and families. 

The academy highlighted the complications that arise when policy meets the reality of individual lives. Samueli staff appealed to the ACSE for support in their effort to receive a waiver from Education Code restrictions on the school’s five-days-per-week residential program, which is designed to help youth in foster care succeed in high school by giving them stability, life skills, education, and ultimately employment. 

The ACSE is interested in the innovative efforts of Samueli and schools that serve similar populations, since fewer than 50 percent of foster youth complete high school. The ACSE supported Samueli’s waiver request to provide a residential option and individualized services to meet the specific and intense needs of the youth the school serves.

The Aurora Program in Kern County made a request that reflected a similar challenge. Aurora is designed so that students who require a residential facility do not have to move out of county or state to find one. Aurora has a ten-year track record of better-than-average success with traumatized children and a history of services that are carefully coordinated with community partners (e.g., child protective services and the sheriff’s department). The painful reality that the commissioners faced in their vote on this waiver was that, for some children who have experienced severe trauma, a more integrated placement is not appropriate. These children need a safe place with intensive services and supports, one that ideally is located near their home communities. The ACSE voted in favor of granting the waiver of the school size requirements in support of the Aurora Program. 

The ACSE commissioners regularly confirm their commitment to their work when they learn about model programs—such as those in California’s Magnolia School District. Many of the students in this district come from extreme poverty and represent numerous ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Yet the schools’ test scores are well above average in English language arts. Some of the keys to Magnolia’s success lie in the district’s use of parent liaisons, teachers on special assignment (TOSAs), “impact teachers” to ensure excellence in initial first instruction, and a rigorous focus on “response to intervention” that is kept alive through regular and targeted professional development. All students in this district, including those without disabilities, have an IEP; and all of its schools are self-proclaimed “schools of kindness.” While Magnolia’s representatives do not claim perfect results—they point to scores for students with disabilities as having “flatlined” and to their lack of a full continuum of services for preschool children with moderate to severe disabilities—the ACSE applauds the district’s staff for their efforts and candor and especially for their commitment to creating one system of education that supports all students. 

The ACSE also heard from staff in another model program: Sanger Unified School District’s transition services for students preparing for adult life. Through a unique set of community connections, the program supports the ability of older students to learn, work, live, and recreate as adults. The ACSE was most impressed with the program’s fluid nature. Every student can “go in and out of college programs and work experience programs. There is no rule that prohibits an access point.” No student is confined to a single pathway to adult life.

Letters of Support

The ACSE sent a letter to the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives in support of future OSEP funding for Bookshare, a free, accessible library for individuals with visual/print disabilities. Bookshare is a leader in requiring the publishing industry to accommodate the print needs of those who have vision loss.

The ACSE also sent a letter of support to the SBE for a waiver from the “size and scope” requirements in California’s education code to allow Fresno County to create its own Charter Schools Special Education Local Plan Area. The growing number of charter schools in that area has generated the need for additional options in the region for SELPA membership.

Additional Collaborative Efforts

The ACSE appreciates CDE’s work in launching a statewide technology initiative in support  of school districts and educators using openly licensed educational materials. Through this initiative, California became the sixteenth state recognized by the U. S. Department of Education for its commitment to supporting the use of these kinds of high-quality educational resources to transform teaching and learning. The result, Collaboration in Common (CiC), is a free, online professional learning community and resource-exchange platform. With a national pool of 800,000 resources, CiC makes collaboration possible on “a grand scale” and can offer teachers important sources of support and connection. 

Given the importance of emotional health and its influence on students’ ability to learn, the ACSE also appreciates CDE’s work with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which is making evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of education, from preschool through high school. It is the commission’s hope that CASEL will be able to guide teachers in their efforts to integrate social and emotional learning into explicit instructional practices, academic and curricular areas, and the culture and climate of schools. 

The Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division sought direction from the ACSE on how to include issues related to disability in the state’s Health Education Framework. The commission embraces disability as a normal part of the human condition and believes that this conviction should serve as a foundational tenet in all teacher preparation materials. As the division develops this framework and receives input from statewide focus groups, the ACSE welcomes updates in the coming year.

Family Engagement

With its commitment to strengthening those processes and structures that promote collaboration between schools and families and to ensuring that parents are actively and meaningfully engaged in the educational life of their children, the ACSE welcomed at each of its meetings representatives from Parent Training and Information Centers, Family Empowerment Centers, and Family Resource Centers. Parents are a child’s first and most ever-present teachers; any effort to promote their active engagement in the school life of a child contributes to that child’s educational success. The ACSE supports all of the issues that these centers champion: fully inclusive preschools; anti-bullying efforts; assurances that IEPs are translated into home languages within a reasonable amount  of time from their issuance; the  promotion of authentic parent participation in LCAPs; educational placements in the least restrictive environment, especially for students with behavioral disabilities; and effective transition supports for students with disabilities so that they can move successfully into adult life. It is the ACSE’s hope that California, to the fullest extent of its ability, will fund these centers so that every parent and family member in the state has geographical access to the important services they provide.

Transition Planning: The Student Voice

Throughout 2016–2017, the ACSE welcomed several young adults who spoke about their experiences growing up with a disability. Their presentations offered a primer for transition planning for students with disabilities. 

One student praised California college campuses for the many programs that fully integrate students with disabilities into the general student population—and then he spoke of how college is too often “a slap in the face for kids with disabilities who are not well prepared.” A young woman spoke of the challenges that youth with disabilities face from internalized and benevolent ableism and from being treated like children and underestimated. “We don’t need sugar coating,” she said. “We do need self-advocacy skills and opportunities.” 

These young people spoke of their need to be challenged to learn and grow and of their need for mentors, especially in junior high and high school when personal identities are forming. They defined a life worth living as one filled with education and employment. They urged teachers, school counselors, and parents to help other students focus on meeting the kinds of challenges that contribute to a quality life. They also spoke of the experiences they had in organizations that were important sources of support and networking for them; that gave them opportunities to gain work and advocacy experiences, develop and maintain friends, and find important role models; and that provided them with experiences of self-determination and leadership. California’s Youth Leadership Forum and Youth Organized! Disabled and Proud at the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers are two of the organizations that especially influenced their lives.

Finally, they spoke of the importance of knowing disability history and culture. “Media, movies, and TV all make it difficult for us to imagine having a job or family life,” one student said. “When you have a disability, you’re raised thinking that you should be grateful for the crumbs you get. . . . I needed to learn about disabilities civil rights history.” While learning this history, “I learned how to be proud of my disability and to advocate for myself.” These students urged adults not to be afraid of disability, not to see it as a stigma. They see their disabilities as important points of identity—and of pride.

The GOAL Award

The ACSE created the GOAL Award in 2005–06 with a contribution of $100,000 over a ten-year period from film producer Brian Grazer. GOAL—Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning—was designed to recognize and award exemplary programs that serve California children and youth with disabilities and the professionals who are at the heart of that service. Those ten years are now complete, and the ACSE has chosen to continue the award. 

The 2017 GOAL winner is the Life Skills Adult Transition Program at Rising Sun Farm and Garden. Housed in a 160-year-old facility on a 10-acre site in Vernalis near the San Joaquin River Valley, Rising Sun began in 2009 to help students ages 18 to 22 with moderate to severe disabilities develop skills to become productive, independent citizens in their communities. Serving individuals from the Patterson Joint Unified School District, the school operates a kitchen and offers welding classes. Its largest venture, though, is agricultural. Students manage a greenhouse, herb garden, and lavender fields and raise chickens. By working in the gardens and orchards, propagating plants, harvesting and processing lavender, sewing aromatherapy pillows, filling sachets, and more, students learn vocational skills in horticulture and product development. They also learn about sales and customer services by selling items grown or produced on site at the local farmers market. Proceeds are put back into the program to purchase new materials and supplies, helping students learn about responsibility and sustainability.

Dozens of volunteers from the community and thousands of dollars of donated materials from local businesses have contributed to the growth and success of Rising Sun—and to the connections the students are making with their larger community.

The ACSE is particularly appreciative of Rising Sun’s interest in expanding its programs and opportunities for the young adults it serves. Next year it plans to raise llamas and goats, create a Web site to sell its lavender products to a larger audience, begin a food-catering service to the local community, and coordinate a more expansive sales plan for the seedlings it raises in its nursery. 

Looking Forward

California has made significant progress in creating a system of accountability and supports for its schools, one that is designed to reflect the values of transparency and inclusivity, that honors the authentic engagement of parents, and that invests in the quality of its educators. As this vision of a unified and coherent system unfolds, the ACSE anticipates improved futures for students with disabilities: increased educational opportunities after high school, expanded community involvement, and increased assurances of living-wage employment. The investments the state is making in its children and in the professionals who serve them promise a hundred-fold return. Those who serve on the California Advisory Commission on Special Education look forward to the realization of those returns and to enhancing future opportunities for students with disabilities.

A directory of the commissioners and others who serve on the ACSE, along with dates and locations for the meetings in 2017–2018, can be found on the ACSE Web site:  To view ACSE meetings via live Webcast, go to



California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT)
A Special Project of the Napa County Office of Education| 5789 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Fax: 707-586-2735 |