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Special Education -- Technical Assistance and Dissemination

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Program Office:

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

CFDA Number:


Program Type:

Discretionary/Competitive Grants, Contracts, Cooperative Agreements

Also Known As:

Special Education—Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities

Program Description

The Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA & D) program is the Department's primary vehicle under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for providing educators, policymakers, other service providers, and the parents and families of children with disabilities with information on effective practices for meeting the needs of children with disabilities and their families. The program makes competitive awards to provide technical assistance, support model demonstration projects, disseminate useful information, and implement activities that are supported by scientific research. These awards are intended to improve services provided under the IDEA, including the practices of professionals and others involved in providing services that promote academic achievement and improve results for children with disabilities.

A majority of the grants currently funded under the TA & D program support technical assistance centers that focus on a particular topic, population, or age range, such as early intervening services, dispute resolution, early childhood, college- and career-readiness, and positive behavioral interventions and supports to improve results for children with disabilities. Most centers use a service model that provides three levels of technical assistance: intensive/sustained, targeted/specific, and general/universal. At the intensive/sustained level, a handful of states receive on-site, ongoing planned assistance designed to reach an outcome desired by the recipient. Through targeted/specific services, centers support activities based on the topical or technical needs common to multiple recipients and can be one-time or short-term events such as consultation services or presentations at conferences. The centers also provide general/universal technical assistance services that permit a broader audience to access information and services through presentations, newsletters, or research syntheses that are made available on center Web sites.

Most activities supported through this program are designed to address the needs of a variety of audiences. While these audiences vary, in general, they include teachers, related services personnel, early intervention personnel, administrators, parents, and individuals with disabilities. In addition to facilitating the adoption of model practices, TA & D activities promote the application of knowledge to improve practice by:

  • determining areas where technical assistance and information are needed,

  • preparing or ensuring that materials are prepared in formats that are appropriate for a wide variety of audiences,

  • making technical assistance and information accessible to consumers, and

  • promoting communication links among consumers.

The technical assistance and dissemination activities supported through this program are based on the best information available. One source of the scientifically based research findings that are used to inform technical assistance and dissemination activities is the What Works Clearinghouse in the Institute of Education Sciences. This is particularly true in cases where there is alignment between the topical focus of a center and work being supported through the What Works Clearinghouse, such as dropout prevention

The duration of awards varies with the award's purpose. Most individual awards are made for a period of 5 years


Last Modified: 02/12/2020