Skip Navigation
Print Evaluations

National Evaluation of the IDEA Technical Assistance and Dissemination Program

Contract Information

Current Status:

This study has been completed.


October 2009 – January 2018



Contract Number:





The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) is the most recent authorization of a law passed in 1975 to promote a free appropriate public education for children with disabilities. Funded at $12.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2010, IDEA supports early intervention services for infants and toddlers, special education services for children ages 3 through 21, and early intervening services for students not in special education but in need of academic or behavioral support.

As specified in IDEA Part D, the Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA&D) Program is to provide technical assistance, support model demonstration projects, disseminate useful information, and implement activities that are supported by scientifically-based research to meet the needs of children with disabilities. This study–conducted under Section 664 of IDEA 2004 to assess the implementation and effectiveness of key programs and services supported under the law–was designed to describe the products and services provided by the TA&D Program grantees, state and local needs for technical assistance, and the role that the TA&D Program plays in meeting these needs and supporting implementation of IDEA.

  • Description of needs for and uses of TA&D services: What were the areas states and local providers report needing and/or receiving technical assistance to support IDEA implementation? Which services were seen as most helpful in contributing to the improvement of key student outcomes?
  • Description of TA&D grantee services: What were the TA&D Network objectives and provider areas of practice? How did TA&D grantees identify their clients, assess their needs, and develop and maintain their relationship with clients?
  • To what extent was assistance from TA&D grantees perceived as helpful in the implementation of special education policies and practices, and how satisfied were customers with the support they received related to implementation of IDEA?

This study was descriptive and produced two reports:

For the interim report, data collection included administering surveys in 2013 to all TA&D Program national center grantees (i.e., all TA&D Program grantees except for the State Deafblind Project centers and model demonstration projects), all state IDEA Part B and Part C administrators, and a sample of state-level special education program staff. Surveys focused on assessing the services provided by the grantees and states' needs for and satisfaction with technical assistance.

For the final report, additional data were collected in 2015 from each State Deafblind Project grantee and from those who provided services at the local level to children with deaf-blindness and their families. Surveys focused on assessing the services provided by these grantees and providers' needs for and satisfaction with technical assistance.

These two rounds of survey data provide a general picture of the TA&D Program under IDEA, and were descriptively analyzed to address the three research questions.

The final report, titled National Evaluation of the State Deaf-Blind Projects, was released in January 2018.

The interim report, titled National Evaluation of the IDEA Technical Assistance & Dissemination Program, was released in October 2013.

On National and Regional TA&D centers:

  • TA&D centers most commonly reported providing technical assistance on the topics of "parent and family involvement" and "data systems and use of data for improvement." States identified "General Supervision/Monitoring," "early childhood transition," "financing of services/financing for special education," and "Response to Intervention" as the topics for which they had the greatest need for technical assistance in 2010–11.
  • Many TA&D centers provided technical assistance on similar topics. For example, 14 states received "high intensity" technical assistance (i.e., frequent training or consultation) on the same topic from 5 different centers.
  • State staff rated the majority of technical assistance experiences they had with TA&D centers as "very satisfactory" (71 percent). Satisfaction did vary to some degree depending on the special education topic being addressed.

On State Deaf-Blind Projects:

  • Technical assistance tailored to meet the needs of a specific child or youth with deaf-blindness was provided by all state Deaf-Blind Projects. However, almost half of the Projects reported that they did not have enough resources to meet the demand for this child-specific support in their state.
  • Almost all direct service providers who received customized support from their State Deaf-Blind Project were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall experience. Specifically, TA providers were rated as highly knowledgeable and non-judgmental. However, satisfaction with the amount of information offered and the extent to which local context was taken into account was somewhat lower.
  • Most State Deaf-Blind Projects reported collaborating with the National Center on Deaf-Blindness and with the federally-funded State Parent Training and Information Centers or the Community Parent Resource Centers. Collaboration among the Projects was also common.