2012 Priority Area in Special Education
For fiscal year 2012, the Institute has selected one priority for its SBIR solicitations in special education. The priority consists of the development of education technology products for use by infants, toddlers, or students with or at risk for disabilities, or teachers (or other instructional personnel, related services providers, or family members) in early intervention or special education.
Products for use by or with infants, toddlers, or students with or at risk for disabilities in early intervention or special education programs (including general education classes with students with disabilities) must be designed to improve outcomes in one of more of the following areas: cognitive, functional and adaptive skills; physical skills; school readiness; reading; writing; communication and language; mathematics; the sciences (e.g., biology, physics, computer science, social sciences); engineering; economics; history; social studies; geography; civics; foreign languages; general study skills; social skills and behaviors that support academic and other important school-related outcomes (e.g., high school graduation rates); or transition outcomes for secondary students with disabilities.
Examples of projects could include:
- A computer-based instructional program for biology that is paired with a haptic hardware device to improve science outcomes for students with visual impairments.
- An intelligent tutor designed to teach basic mathematics concepts for students with learning disabilities that monitors students' incremental progress.
- An interactive learning station with SMART board technology that is designed to improve access to the general curriculum for students with physical disabilities.
- An interactive technology that is intended to help young children with autism learn to read facial expressions.
Products for use by teachers or other service delivery providers (e.g., early interventionists, guidance counselors, speech/language pathologists, or school psychologists) in early intervention or special education programs must be intended either:
- to improve outcomes in one of more of the following areas: cognitive, functional and adaptive skills; physical skills; school readiness; reading; writing; communication and language; mathematics; the sciences (e.g., biology, physics, computer science, social sciences); engineering; economics; history; social studies; geography; civics; foreign languages; general study skills; social skills and behaviors that support academic and other important school-related outcomes (e.g., high school graduation rates); or transition outcomes for secondary students with disabilities.
- to improve the efficiency or accuracy with which teachers or service delivery providers carry out their administrative responsibilities (e.g., recording and transmitting information to a central database, monitoring progress on Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals).
Examples of projects could include:
- A personal computing device or handheld device to help early intervention service providers record improvements in developmental skills of toddlers with developmental disabilities and present data in a way that can be easily understood by parents.
- An online program to help with the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs)
Types of Products
- Products may create or adapt existing technologies specifically to enhance outcomes for or enable access by infants, toddlers, or students with disabilities.
- Products may be, but are not limited to, products that: provide instruction or intervention, replace existing curricula, supplement existing curricula, or assess student learning to inform teacher instructional practice.
- Products may be in the following forms, but are not limited to: software (e.g., intelligent tutors or assessment engines), digital format readers, multi-media products (e.g., DVDs, videotapes, videoconferencing, or television programs), on-line instruction (e.g., "e-learning" products, distance learning products, or virtual worlds), or other education technology (e.g., interactive whiteboards, clickers, personal computing devices, tables, or handheld devices).
- The solicitations are restricted to R/R&D for infants, toddlers, or students with disabilities or at risk for disabilities. For the purpose of The Department's R/R&D programs, a student with a disability is defined in Public Law 108-446, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), as a child — "(i) with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this title as 'emotional disturbance'), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and (ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services" (Part A, Sec. 602).
- An infant or toddler with a disability is defined in IDEA as, — "an individual under 3 years of age who needs early intervention services because the individual (i) is experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures in 1 or more of the areas of cognitive development, physical development, communication development, social or emotional development, and adaptive development; or (ii) has a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay" (Part C, Sec. 632).
- Products must be for use in schools, alternative school settings, early intervention or early childhood special education settings, or supplemental education services as defined in Section 1116(e) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
- Products to be used with infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services may be implemented in other natural settings (e.g., home-based, child care settings, family-focused interventions). Products for prekindergarten through Grade 12 students must be implemented as school-based alone or as school-based with a home or community component.
Age and grade level
- Products for use by or with individuals with disabilities or at risk for disabilities must be for individuals from infancy through Grade 12.
- Products for use by teachers, intervention delivery providers in early intervention or special education programs, or parents or family members, must be for serving individuals with or at risk for disabilities from infancy through Grade 12.
Measures and Outcomes
- All applicants must include measures of child or student outcomes. By child or student outcomes, the Department means those measures of development, learning, and achievement that are important to parents, teachers, and school administrators (e.g., school readiness for young children, grades, achievement test scores, graduation rates, percentage of time spent in the general education environment).
- Transition outcomes for middle or high school students include the behavioral, social, communicative, functional, occupational, and academic skills that enable young adults with disabilities to obtain and hold meaningful employment, live independently, and obtain further training and education (e.g., postsecondary education, vocational education programs).
- Products may address the needs of students with disabilities who are also English language learners.
- The Department encourages research on high-incidence (e.g., specific learning disability) and low-incidence disabilities (e.g., visual impairments).
- Offerors proposing to study children at risk for disabilities should present research-based evidence of an association between risk factors in their proposed sample and the potential identification of disabilities. The determination of at-risk status must be made on an individual child basis and may include, for example, factors used for moving children to higher tiers in a Response to Intervention model. The method to be used for determining at-risk status should be made explicit in proposals and should be completed as part of the sample selection process. Evidence consisting only of general population characteristics (e.g., labeling all children in a school or district as “at risk for disabilities” because of community socioeconomic characteristics) is not sufficient for this purpose.
For a Phase I and Phase II projects, the scope of the proposed project (in terms of time needed to complete the R/R&D work and resources needed to do so) must be appropriate for the Department's SBIR program. ED recognizes that R/R&D requirements for some education technology exceed the time and resources provided by the SBIR program. In such cases offerors should consider other avenues for funding.
For more information on additional funding opportunities in this area, offerors are strongly encouraged to consult the Institute's National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) program announcement for research grant competitions at http://ies.ed.gov/funding/.
For additional information on the types of projects the Institute has funded through its research grant competitions, please see descriptions of projects funded through NCSER at http://ies.ed.gov/ncser/projects.