What Will Stakeholder Engagement Look Like With the New SPP/APR? Making Requirements a Reality!

By now, we have all heard about the new requirements for including stakeholders in the SPP/APR. The changes to the requirements are found in the SPP/APR instructions. (IDC has created a one page document, FFY 2020–2025 SPP/APR Stakeholder Requirements, if you want to review those requirements.)

These requirements include

  • Expanding the membership of the advisory group(s) that will inform the development of the SPP/APR and expanding the type of advice states should seek from their stakeholders
  • Include a broader group of parents, including those on the state advisory panel or other advisory groups, advocates, and parents not typically associated with any of the parent organizations, in the development of the SPP/APR
  • Broadening the advice they seek from stakeholders to include not only advice about target setting but advice about data analysis, developing improvement strategies, and evaluating progress
  • Documenting the stakeholder engagement process.  States need to provide information about state strategies for soliciting stakeholder feedback and informing stakeholders of decisions the state made as well as plans for making the results of target setting, data analysis, development of improvement strategies, and evaluation available to the public

Frequency of stakeholder input also changed with these new instructions. Previously, the SPP/APR required stakeholder input when a state was setting or adjusting targets for indicators. For most states, this was not necessarily every year, as states set many targets once and did not adjust them until it was time to renew the SPP/APR, or extend it, as happened for FFY 2019. Because the new package instructions require stakeholder input related to analyzing data, developing improvement strategies, and evaluating progress, the instructions appear to expect more routine stakeholder input, annually at a minimum.

States still face a few unknowns about the stakeholder engagement requirements and OSEP expectations. They question how much engagement and documentation are enough, what will OSEP review and provide feedback on, and will the SPP/APR template change to be more specific about stakeholder input?

States should not wait for more clarification but should start planning their stakeholder engagement strategies now. When reviewing the entirety of the stakeholder requirements, it becomes obvious that the intent is for states to have a robust stakeholder engagement plan for their SPP/APR that includes a broad range of individuals who have a stake in the results and outcomes for children and youth with disabilities. The stakeholder engagement should be ongoing and involve all stakeholders in planning, implementing, and evaluating the SPP/APR, with a focus on results.

–Nancy O'Hara