Program Improves Access to Education for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

BALTIMORE – Through a competitive process Maryland has been selected as the first national technical assistance site by the TIES Center, a National Technical Assistance Center on Inclusive Practices and Policies in schools and district educational systems. The TIES Center, or TIES, (Increasing Time, Instructional Effectiveness, Engagement, and State Support), will partner with the MSDE Division of Early Intervention and Special Education to improve inclusive educational opportunities for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in kindergarten through grade eight.

The TIES program is funded primarily through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), Research and Practice Division. MSDE and TIES researchers will work together to focus on how state and local education agencies can improve their systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully participate in the same activities as their general education peers.

“This is an especially important opportunity for our special education community,” said Marcella E. Franczkowski, Assistant State Superintendent for Early Intervention and Special Education Services. “The TIES Center has recognized the call to action of the Division of Special Education’s Strategic Plan, Moving Maryland Forward, which outlines the implementation of capacity-building frameworks for Maryland’s local school systems, leading to improved results for students with disabilities in Maryland.”

TIES director Dr. Sheryl Lazarus, and researchers from the University of Minnesota National Center on Educational Outcomes, along with six partner organizations including the Arizona Department of Education, CAST, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and local representatives from Cecil, Carroll, Washington, and Harford County Public Schools met with Ms. Franczkowski and the State team this month in Baltimore to begin planning. The TIES team also toured Rising Sun Elementary School in Cecil County to see the inclusive practices and policies have been sustained over a period of years.

“We share your passion for improving inclusive practices for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities,” Dr. Lazarus wrote in the State’s selection notice. Planning sessions will include State experts, local educators and administrators, parent representatives, national experts, and Institutes of Higher Education in Maryland.

To learn more about the Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Strategic Plan: Moving Maryland Forward, Sharpen the Focus for 2020, visit