High dropout rates among youth with disabilities are a serious national concern. In response to this concern, the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD) was established in 2004 by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to assist in building states' capacity to increase school completion rates for students with disabilities. The goal of this center is to provide high quality evidence-based technical assistance to help states build and implement sustainable programs and best practices that will yield positive results in dropout prevention, reentry and school completion for students with disabilities. The Center, located at Clemson University, is part of OSEP's Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA&D) Network that provides information and technical assistance to states, local schools, educational professionals, policymakers, and families.
Who's dropping out, why, and what can be done are questions that schools struggle daily to answer. Similarly, states grapple with how to build capacity to provide guidance and assistance to schools around the issue of school completion. To facilitate these answers, we continuously engage in a series of multidimensional knowledge synthesis, technical assistance, and dissemination activities with multiple stakeholders to assist youth with disabilities to stay in school, progress in school, and complete school. Knowledge development activities that result in the identification of effective dropout prevention interventions and educational reentry programs targeted for students with disabilities serves as the "core" or nucleus of the Center's work. All, of the Center's other major activities (i.e., technical assistance, collaboration, and dissemination) stem from this major enterprise.
NDPC-SD is committed to providing technical assistance to assist states in building capacity to design/select and implement effective, evidence-based interventions and programs to address dropout among students with disabilities. NDPC-SD employs various strategies to transfer knowledge and to support systems change and capacity building. These include direct consultation in designing state-level initiatives based on state-identified needs, product and document reviews, technical assistance, professional development institutes, and Web-based resources.
The center's three-tiered approach to the delivery of technical assistance provides at the broadest level (Tier one), technical assistance that is indirect and general in nature. This technical assistance includes Teleseminars/Web events, e-newsletter (Big IDEAs), as well as a variety of print resources and other materials disseminated through the Center's website. At the second tier, NDPC-SD offers direct technical assistance in response to inquiries and requests from states, local education agencies, and other stakeholders. Tier two technical assistance includes helping states design effective improvement strategies and plans for the SPP/APR; developing probes for dropout indicators; selecting evidence-based programs; and hosting and participating in capacity-building forums and conferences. At Tier 3, the Center will partner with select states and local education agencies to develop dropout-prevention and re-entry initiatives and to build model sites. SEA and LEA efforts in Tier 3 are guided by the NDPC-SD Dropout Prevention Intervention Framework
NDPC-SD has access to a broad range of expertise and experience through its national partners and other collaborators. Our major partner, the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) of Newton, MA is integrally involved in accomplishment of project activities through collaborative support of dissemination and technical assistance efforts. In addition, the Center engages in various collaborative activities with other organizations and OSEP funded specialty centers to address specific tasks related to its mission. These efforts include planning joint events, shared work analysis, joint presentations at national conferences, capacity-building institutes, advisory committee representation, joint product development, and contractual partnerships. Among the Center's collaborators are, the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative, the National Post-School Outcomes Center (NPSO), the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC), the Data Accountability Center, Parent Training Institutes (PTIs), the Regional Resource Centers (RRCs), other members of OSEP's Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network, and OSEP. NDPC-SD programs and services receive guidance from a national advisory committee that includes a diverse cross -section of stakeholders from general and special education, parents, researchers, and policymakers.