Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Special education law has required states to have a Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) since 1975. Each state must develop a system to ensure that all education personnel are adequately prepared and receive continuing education. This helps teachers by ensuring that they are trained to do their work and guards against serious personnel shortages. The IDEA amendments of 1991, P.L. 105-17, included an increased emphasis on improving school staff and parent skills. State improvement grants were offered on a competition basis for states. Montana received a five-year improvement grant; the additional resources will greatly enhance Montana's capacity to provide inservice and technical assistance.

The CSPD is a process which includes preservice, inservice, and technical assistance for parents, general education teachers, special education staff, administrators and other service providers with the end result being better programs and services for all Montana students. This is accomplished by collaborating with stakeholders, disseminating best practices, and evaluation of activities.

The CSPD system is a sum of the parts. The following is a brief description of critical CSPD components that each stakeholder should understand.


Pre-service is the preparation of individuals for employment as educators and service providers. Institutions of higher education are given the responsibility to prepare individuals with adequate skills that lead to quality services. The CSPD collaborates with higher education in strengthening educational training programs to help ensure quality personnel. The CSPD is involved with licensure issues and promotes collaboration between the various Montana institutions of higher learning.

Needs Assessment

The State CSPD Council conducts an annual needs assessment using a representative sample of stakeholders. The goal is to identify training needs; develop a system to evaluate CSPD components, activities, and projects; and ensure that each CSPD component includes collaboration. The results of the needs assessment are the catalysts for determining inservice training and technical assistance. The CSPD Council develops the needs assessment and disseminates the results to school districts and Regional CSPD Councils.


The state and regional CSPD Councils, in cooperation with other agencies, help provide support and/or organize relevant inservice training to improve the skills needed for serving Montana students. Inservices are based on data from statewide needs assessment and in compliance with federal and state educational requirements.

Technical Assistance

The CSPD promotes the delivery of technical assistance on behavior management, IEP development, transition from school to adult life and differentiated instruction, as well as training on a wide variety of other statewide regional issues.


Collaboration is the glue that holds the components of CSPD together. The main objective of both state and regional councils is to offer opportunities for individuals and organizations to discuss and disseminate research-validated educational and behavioral best practices throughout the state of Montana.


The state and regional quarterly CSPD Council meetings offer opportunities for discussion and dissemination of ideas and materials. Promising practices are shared with educators, parents, and agencies throughout the state.


All CSPD activities are evaluated as to their outcome and impact on programs for Montana students. Each section of the CSPD Strategic Plan contains an evaluation component, the results of which are used by the state and regional councils as part of their decision-making process.


Planning and collaboration to address the shortage of qualified educational personnel in Montana's urban and rural areas occur at both the state and regional levels. Strategies are implemented to promote hiring and mentoring of qualified staff members to meet the needs of all Montana students.