In 2013, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) recognized the need for more options to 1) prevent IEPs from moving into contentious and costly dispute processes, and 2) improve outcomes for students. As a result, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Board was formed to explore possible options. Ultimately, IEP Facilitation was the highly-promising practice that Colorado decided to pursue.

CDE provides trainings for IEP team members interested in improving their conflict resolution and facilitation skills and now also offers state-sponsored IEP facilitations. For more information on their state-sponsored IEP facilitation program, see their IEP Facilitation Continuum Practice

System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 

CDE offers several training options at the local level. 

Improving IEP Teams: Skills for Resolving Conflict Resolution is a six-hour workshop for any IEP team member interested in improving the IEP team process. Skills and knowledge taught during this workshop include:

  • IDEA: Terminology and Fundamentals
  • Productive Meetings: Tools and Processes
  • Conflict: What causes it and tools to work through it
  • Group Dynamics: Eliminating mind chatter and creating the space for change
  • Invaluable Tools: Understanding interests, strategic questions, and listening techniques
  • Critical Skills: Creating connections, understanding resistance and resources, and consensus

CDE also offers a two-day IEP facilitator training for IEP team members who have completed the Skills for Resolving Conflict Resolution workshop. One-day trainings for Improving IEP Teams are also available, including one specifically for parent advocates.

Stakeholder Involvement

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Board, made up of broad representation of professional backgrounds, parents and geographic diversity from across the state, informs the trainings offered by CDE. The Advisory Board’s mission is to reduce the need for formal dispute resolution measures by providing a funded support system and toolbox of options for all special education stakeholders that lead to a more collaborative IEP process and relationships. CDE also contracts with PEAK Parent Center to work jointly on ADR training efforts throughout the state.

Program Access & Delivery: 

The available trainings are posted on the CDE website with registration links. CDE also receives requests for trainings on facilitative skills from districts, parent groups, and other agencies. School districts request trainings on a regular basis for all of their special education staff, with some districts also inviting parents.

Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Information on the CDE trainings is available on the CDE website. CDE presents on their state-sponsored IEP facilitation program and their Improving IEP Teams trainings at various statewide conferences.

IEP Facilitation Presentation

Evaluation & Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): 

From fall 2017 through spring 2020

  • 654 individuals were trained in the Improving IEP Teams:  Skills for Resolving Conflict
  • 128 individuals trained as neutral IEP facilitators
  • Skills taught at multiple conferences and shortened trainings in districts
  • 99.5% of participants’ survey responses found the training extremely helpful in their day-to-day IEP meetings, with the visual tools reported as very valuable

For more information, visit or contact Mary Anne Fleury at