What’s happening in ‘23-24!

two students with backpacks waving

This article originally appeared in START Connecting in September 2023. 

With so many schools starting at different times, we know some of you have been in school for nearly a month while others are just getting started. Wherever you are in the schedule - welcome back! We are eager to reconnect through trainings, Communities of Practice (CoP), Regional Collaborative Network (RCN) meetings, and various projects. 

We listened carefully to what you need from us so you can help students be successful both in school and in their communities. At START, we are doing our best to respond to the ever changing needs of schools by developing more flexible ways to receive training and resources and supporting local trainers and coaches who work directly with district and building teams. Being responsive is one of our most important priorities. We invite you to see what’s new at START and what’s coming next to support you and your students.

Paths to Learning:
Paths to Learning is our new approach to professional learning that will involve both live learning opportunities (in-person and virtual) along with self-paced learning available on our website and an expansion of Communities of Practice. You will see the Paths to Learning concept woven throughout the START website and communications. 

  • Many trainings and events are available on the START website with new offerings, such as the CETA series, Behavior Escalation Scripts, and Understanding Autism for Learning and Behavioral Support. We are also continuing with various Secondary Transition learning opportunities such as the monthly Transforming Transition Together (T3) trainings and self-paced learning.
  • The Early Childhood training for ‘23-24 will include 2-hour sessions, open to anyone, on a variety of topics relevant to providers supporting children with autism and higher support needs in all types of settings. More information is coming soon!
  • If you missed it last year, the Level up your Peer to Peer Program! is available again in Fall 2023. If you are already running a Peer to Peer program and you are ready to expand, this training is for you. 
  • EPLI has been restructured with a new EPLI Essential Foundations Bootcamp that integrates Universal Supports, PBIS, and Academic Supports to better reflect how trainers are sharing this content in their districts. The Bootcamp is available for school professionals seeking to become a trainer, inactive trainers, current trainers, and coach leaders.  
  • For Current EPLI Trainers of START Content you have the option to attend the FAPE in the LRE Bootcamp. Current Trainers are strongly encouraged to attend the Bootcamp to strengthen their content knowledge. 
  • The Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education is emphasizing LRE as a state priority and this Bootcamp will help you educate your staff and administrators. Additional ongoing refresher opportunities will also be available to Current Trainers. 


  • The Classroom Environment and Teaching Assessment (CETA) has undergone a few small adjustments. The name has changed from the CETA-R to CETA, which is meant to simplify communication about the tool. The first two pages of the tool have been updated and re-formatted, and revisions were made to one indicator in the PBIS section and one in the Social Interaction and Peer to Peer Support section.

Sneak Peak:

  • The self-paced learning options in our Paths to Learning will be rolled out gradually over the next year and beyond. First, you will see the Learning Bites, which are small packages of information focused on a topic, such as Peer to Peer, FAPE in the LRE, Universal Supports, and Growing an Inclusive Mindset, with many more to come. We anticipate these “bites” will be used for self-paced learning and as part of a coach’s toolbox. 
  • The START Passport for students and families is transitioning to a new tool called the iQuest. The tool still emphasizes using a collaborative process to develop meaningful independence goals, and is now packaged in a way that is more engaging to students and easier to use for families. 
  • Since LRE is being further elevated as a priority in the state, more information and tools will be shared to assist you in taking action toward practices that align with federal law and the best interests of students. 
  • The 23rd Annual START Conference presenter line-up will be available later in the fall with registration opening in early January.

START Team News:

  • Lindsey Harr-Smith has joined the START team full-time and we anticipate an expansion in Peer to Peer initiatives and Self-management resources. Additionally, Lindsey, as a trained Speech-Language Pathologist, will lead a new Functional Communication workgroup focused on strengthening the implementation of communication strategies and resources to support students. 

As a project that prides itself on being responsive to expressed needs from the field, we will continue to listen, grow, and adjust. Our partnerships with school staff and families inform our work and we encourage you to stay in touch so we can learn from and with you. Cheers to another school year!

Written by: Amy Matthews, Ph.D., BCBA - Project Director

Page last modified September 18, 2023