Supporting the future of special education

The Challenge 

The U.S. Department of Education awards more than $80 million annually to support training programs for students pursuing degrees, certificates, or teaching endorsements in the special education field.

The office in charge of awarding the grants through colleges and universities needed a system to gather information about each student’s education and employment before participating in the training program. The office also needed information about the training, such as type of degree, certificate, or endorsement awarded; area of degree, certificate, or endorsement; program and individual student funding, such as tuition, stipend, or other expenses; and data on whether the student successfully completed the program, and whether students had jobs in special education after completing the program.

Our Solutions 

  • Westat performed a number of tasks
    • Revised the web-based data collection system to accommodate both new and returning grantees’ student information
    • Prepared and conducted an annual training for grantees to improve data reporting
    • Provided technical assistance to grantees and updated the web site’s FAQs during the data input stage
    • Analyzed the grantee data and prepared a report on outcomes of the descriptive analyses and a report on the outcomes of comparative analyses of relationships between and among key variables within and across data submission years
    • Recommended improvements to the process, including a cost-benefit analysis of each recommendation
    • Conducted the annual collection

The Results 

  • Westat achieved a 100% response rate for the grantees from 2006 through 2012. The client uses the data in meeting Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) reporting requirements and monitoring program improvement. Grantee reporting also improved as evidenced by reduced item nonresponse; lower rates of missing data at the item level improved performance on the GPRA measures since fewer cases were in the denominator. This work is continuing.

Our Client 

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)