Review FAQs

Q1: What is the Center-based Program Review?

It is an independent study and review of the current status of the Grand Rapids Public Schools operated special education center programs  within Kent ISD on behalf of local school districts and public school academies. The Review was requested by a unanimous vote of the Kent Intermediate Superintendents’ Association (KISA) in April, 2018, and was hired by Kent ISD soon after.

Q2: What is a Center-based Program?

This is an educational program operated by a district or ISD on behalf of others. In Kent ISD, Grand Rapids Public Schools has operated Center-based special education programs for all 20 of the public school districts, plus the public school academies in the area. These programs provide specialized services to students who have specific and unique needs.

In this case, the special education programs under review provide very specialized instructional and support services to students who have intensive intellectual, physical, medical and neuro-sensory needs. All of the students served in these programs are enrolled in a public or charter school within Kent ISD and are eligible for special education services.

Q3: Who will be conducting the Center-based Program Review?

Kent ISD has hired Beth Steenwyk, an independent private consultant, to conduct this study. She has 40+ years of experience in special education as a teacher, administrator, state educational agency administrator within Michigan, and as a private consultant to numerous other states.

Q4: Will this individual be unbiased in the review of these programs?

A condition of the contract between Kent ISD and the consultant is to guarantee the Review process is unbiased, inclusive of all stakeholder perspectives and focused on the quality of educational services provided to the students in these GRPS operated center-based programs.

Q5: What will be the focus of this Center-Based Program Review?

The priority focus of the Review is on the instructional and supportive services students currently receive. Due to the complex needs of the students served, it is very important that staff and program administrators be knowledgeable and skilled practitioners of effective services that are evidence-based.

Because students receiving special education services are entitled to a “Free and Appropriate Public Education,” this type of review typically makes sure that policies, procedures and practices are in place to provide educational benefit for students.  In short, it is a systems review.

Q6: What about compliance concerns?

This review is not a compliance review, but a review of programs and systems. If during the review, however, there are questions regarding compliance, referrals to the appropriate monitoring personnel will be made.

Q7: How will this review be conducted?

In three phases.

Phase One

The month of June 2018, Phase One of the Center-based Program Review, is dedicated to developing an understanding of the current context and multiple perspectives related to the programs. During this phase, an interview process with key stakeholders is used to support the development of critical priorities and process boundaries for the design of Phase Two.

Phase One will conclude with a brief report, which will be widely shared with all stakeholders. The Phase One report will include

  • the interview summaries
  • key findings
  • recommendations for Phase Two

Phase Two

Phase Two will begin July 1 and end December 31, 2018. During this phase, “town hall meetings” will be held with key stakeholder groups. Later in the process, focus groups based on specific concerns will be conducted to gain a deeper understanding of issues. In addition, there will be extensive observations conducted in all Center-based Programs.

Phase Two will conclude with a report to the county superintendents with

  • summaries of all stakeholder meetings and focus groups
  • program observation findings
  • a comprehensive analysis of critical areas of concern
  • opportunities for growth and improvement
  • recommendations for implementation strategies

Phase Three

Phase Three of the proposal for this process addresses and supports the large-scale implementation challenges related to recommendations for improvement discovered and articulated in Phases One and Two. If approved by the area superintendents (KISA), Phase Three would be conducted during the calendar year of 2019.

Q8: How can I share my comments, questions or concerns?

To share your thoughts or ask questions about the Center-based Programs or this Review, click the blue “Let’s Talk” tab on the right side of this screen, fill in the fields and click “Send.”

You can also access “Let’s Talk” on the Grand Rapids Public Schools Special Education page, and throughout the Kent ISD website. On, be sure to select “Special Education Center Program Review” in the dropdown before submitting your question or comment.

Q9: Who is in charge of operating these programs?

Currently the Grand Rapids Public School (GRPS) District operates these programs on behalf of the schools of Kent County. GRPS has done so for many years. The determination of who operates the center programs is not a component of this review.

Q10: How can we find out about the progress of this review?

There are some coordinated communication tools being developed by Kent ISD and GRPS. This includes the development of a public webpage to host communication around the review process, including meeting schedules, updates and stakeholder engagement opportunities.