As the result of a grass-roots effort in 2005, the National State Leaders Summit began to address issues and challenges in deaf education. More than 125 state leaders from 35 state teams representing various state agencies, schools and programs, and parents met in Atlanta for the purpose of working to improve outcomes for all children and youth who are deaf and hard of hearing; annual meetings and activities followed, and state teams were encouraged to work together throughout the year.
Participants represented states that were in various phases of implementing deaf education reform initiatives; they shared a commitment to full communication access and high standards for each child. Initially conceived as a one-time event, the Summit has hosted six face-to-face meetings and a series of webcasts that included four presentations on critical issues. Accomplishments have included:
In 2012, the Summit planning team presented its mission: to enhance the capacity in each state to provide evidence-based educational programming for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth in a seamless continuum of programs and services that prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.
Currently, the Building State Capacity Summit series is hosted by pepnet 2 (pn2) as part of its efforts to build capacity in states to increase the number and proportion of students who continue past high school and complete postsecondary programs or become employed. The shift reflects the mission and goals of pepnet 2, which has been charged by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education to support these efforts. Teams from all U.S. states and territories are invited to participate.