Over the past three years, The Guild has been part of a cohort of select schools chosen by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to improve the individualized education program (IEP) development process. The Guild was selected to participate for its organizational capacity and demonstrated commitment to improving educational and quality of life outcomes for students.

The Guild School will be featured later this year in an online playbook published by DESE highlighting success stories from the program. The Guild’s Chief Education Officer, Annie Willis, will also be presenting in conjunction with the Federation for Children with Special Needs next month at the Arc of Massachusetts’ Transition Conference on the new IEP process.

“This accomplishment is a testament to the education team’s unwavering commitment to supporting students in making progress toward their goals. They’ve been innovative in finding ways to ensure that the IEP process is student-driven and data-informed from creation to implementation,” said Amy C. Sousa, Chief Executive Officer.

Through this 3-year initiative, The Guild sought to improve the IEP process by increasing collaboration among providers, students, and caregivers while integrating functional skill assessment data so that all students can achieve their highest level of independence.

In year one of the project, Guild providers analyzed over 1,700 pieces of qualitative and quantitative data from students and caregivers to determine concrete goals for improvement. During year two, providers rolled out new tools to increase student, parent, caregiver, and guardian voice and improve data collection in the IEP process. Each student now completes a “student vision” template that prompts them to consider things like where they want to live and what they want to do for work as they get older.

The IEP process recognizes students’ families and caregivers as integral partners and now increases their input in goal-setting. Parents, caregivers, and guardians work with program leaders to develop and incorporate their vision during the IEP process.

“Each student should be in the driver’s seat of their future,” said Willis. “Thanks to the work of our team in collaboration with partner organizations, we’ve expanded opportunities within the IEP process for students to express how they envision their life beyond The Guild School.”

The Guild worked in coalition with CAST, the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and BlackPrint Education Consulting during this project.