ARDMORE, Okla. (KTEN) — The Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Special Education Services team has received a $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support Oklahoma school districts and early career teachers serving children with disabilities.

The Personnel Development Grant has let the special education services team help Dickson Public Schools implement an educational framework that provides academic and behavioral support for students with disabilities. 

“Since we have seen so much success in our grant working at our lower elementary and have moved it district-wide, they have asked us to be their partner for the upcoming grant cycle," said Dickson schools district intervention coordinator Jennifer Mays-Krimmer. "We will be a model school for future grant recipients.”

The multi-tiered systems of support — MTSS — help educators identify areas where students are struggling to understand a behavior or academic lesson. 

“It helps determine if we have a tier one problem," Mays-Krimmer explained. "So if we are teaching all of our students the same thing and only 50 percent of students are successful, then that is a structural problem with what we are doing.” 

Once the problem has been identified, Dickson teachers then evaluate necessary changes to curriculum and classrooms to increase student success. 

“We have targeted approaches to teaching behaviors, so our counselor is going in regularly in classes on top of the teachers' teaching behavior,” Mays-Krimmer said. “Then if we still have students exhibiting challenging behavior, and we know it is not a systems problem because we are teaching behavior and reinforcing behavior, then we have systems in place for small groups and individual behavioral interventions.”

In 2023, the OSDE will select two new districts that want to implement MTSS. Oklahoma school districts can apply in February to partner with the OSDE for grant support. Two additional districts will be selected in 2025.

The OSDE said in a written statement that the new grant would let the department implement a professional development component for special education teachers.