Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center


Great Lakes East and the Indiana Department of Education

A Look Back at Years 1-5

On October 1, 2010, the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center will begin Year 6 of its technical assistance to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). In the previous years, assistance was provided for school and district improvement primarily through the Office of Title I, later renamed Differentiated Learning. By the end of Year 5, Great Lakes East assistance increased significantly to include district improvement (Title I Part C [migrant education], Title III [English learners, special education]); school improvement (online modules, School Improvement Grants, Common Core State Standards Initiative); and instruction (response to instruction, college and career preparation, counselor performance and accountability).

Great Lakes East’s technical assistance goals with IDOE have stayed closely aligned to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and most recently, to the Common Core State Standards. Throughout the years, the number and nature of requests from IDOE have increased significantly because of several factors, one being the change in IDOE. With each request, Great Lakes East and IDOE would join to identify research, best practices, and expert opinions in the field to create policies and procedures that serve schools and districts across Indiana.

The success of the first four years created the potential for the growth in shared energy and trust between Great Lakes East and IDOE in Year 5. Both Great Lakes East and IDOE have dedicated increased numbers of staff and resources to Indiana initiatives. At the end of Year 5, the collaborative work between IDOE and Great Lakes East encompassed six areas: district improvement, school improvement, response to instruction, college and career preparation, counselor performance and accountability, and Common Core State Standards. The mutual collaboration has positioned many initiatives for continuation of effective support from Great Lakes East and increased progress from IDOE in Year 6.

District Improvement: Title I, Title III, and Special Education

Title I
District Support Through Workshops. During Years 1–3, Great Lakes East assisted IDOE’s Office of Title I in developing policies and supports for its districts in improvement under NCLB. In Year 4, this goal became one of reviewing and refining the established policies and supports, and in Year 5, the Title I staff (specialists) were able to implement the supports and polices without Great Lakes East assistance.

The coordinator of Title I changed twice during Year 5—initially because of the internal promotion of the coordinator and then because the coordinator moved out of state. The changes, however, did not impact the division’s work with schools and districts or with the relationship with Great Lakes East because all of the specialists have been involved with building and implementing the supports on some level and with working with Great Lakes East. For example, two of the specialists worked closely with Great Lakes East on the establishment of the Institute for School Leadership Teams in Years 3 and 4 and now do this work without Great Lakes East support. The same is true for the district supports of instructional modules, curriculum mapping, and instructional coaches.

In Years 1–3, IDOE and Great Lakes East held workshops for districts identified as in improvement according to adequate yearly progress (AYP) as determined by the state’s standardized test, Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus (I-STEP+). Two set of districts are required to attend—districts in the first year of improvement and districts in the third year of improvement. The workshops varied between the two sets of districts.

This past year, Year 4, workshops were not conducted because the state changed its testing dates from the fall to the spring. The data for districts in improvement are expected to be released in September or October 2010. At that time, Great Lakes East will assist IDOE Title I in identifying the needs of the districts and in planning supports for them. IDOE has made significant growth in conducting the workshops without Great Lakes East support. However, in prior years, the districts have been large, urban districts, and this next group may look very different and require differentiation of services from IDOE.

District Support Through Curriculum Development. Districts in corrective action (Year 3 of improvement) are required to design a new English language arts or mathematics curriculum. Last year, Great Lakes East worked with the IDOE Title I specialist assigned to this task to review the implementation plans and randomly review teacher-created maps from the districts. With Great Lakes East serving as a mentor last year, the Title I specialist is now confident in conducting this process alone. In addition, IDOE established the Division of Curriculum and Instruction in February 2010, which may become responsible for this initiative. Thus, Great Lakes East will no longer need to support IDOE in this area, including mapping coaches and workshops.

Title III
Support Through IDOE EL Staff Development. IDOE requested assistance in building the knowledge and skills of its four English learners (ELs) staff. To meet this request, Great Lakes East conducted four all-day professional development sessions with the staff from November through March. Topics included research and best practices concerning professional development, data-based decision making, what classroom teachers need to know about teaching ELs, and planning and implementing supports to districts. These sessions will continue and will include modeling and coaching next year to increase the EL staff’s capacity to support the schools.

Support for Districts Not Meeting AMAOs. A hands-on example of how to develop effective, research-based professional development occurred through IDOE and Great Lakes East codeveloping and coconducting a workshop for districts not meeting annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs). Held in January 2010, this workshop was the division’s first time to move beyond monitoring of districts to providing them with professional development. This workshop allowed the IDOE EL staff to participate in the multiple aspects of preparation, such as goal setting and meeting the needs of the audience, and to fulfill the role of table facilitators, with the district teams working together to examine their data and develop district goals and plans.

Support for Districts With Migrant Education Plans. A second half-day workshop was held to assist districts to write rigorous and measurable goals for their migrant education programs because IDOE noted that this was an area of weakness. IDOE EL staff participated to some degree in the presentation and fully in the planning. Their role in the event is expected to increase next year.

Special Education

In the area of special education, IDOE requested assistance from Great Lakes East to develop a process to rigorously and fairly review applications from vendors for their six new Indiana Resource Centers for Improvement Activities. These centers are to assist schools and districts in reforming and improving the supports and services for children with disabilities as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and in areas that were findings from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Great Lakes East provided external reviewers for the two-phase process: (1) reviewing and scoring the written applications and (2) interviewing and scoring the applicants’ presentations. IDOE then reviewed the scores and comments from the reviewers and notified the grant recipients. The process was the first time a competitive process was used for awarding these grants.


College and Career Preparation

In January 2010, IDOE requested assistance from Great Lakes East to develop and implement a plan for improved student achievement in mathematics. Great Lakes East worked with IDOE College and Career Preparation (CCP) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) staff to develop a research analysis to help IDOE identify the essential components of exemplary models and the SEAs that are considered exemplary. The analysis helped IDOE compare its model with those of other SEAs and make internal improvements and modifications. IDOE areas of concern included pathways to graduation within CTE, project-based learning, high school RTI, and mathematics in CTE toolkits. In addition, Great Lakes East worked with IDOE mathematics specialists as they planned, implemented, and reviewed “technology in mathematics instruction” pilot programs. Great Lakes East assisted staff from these two distinct departments at IDOE to come together in an integrated pursuit of increased student achievement in mathematics.

Counselor Performance and Accountability

In January 2010, IDOE requested assistance from Great Lakes East to develop and implement a plan to increase performance and accountability of secondary school counseling programs. In the early stages of this plan, IDOE turned its resources in other directions, and pursuit of this goal was terminated.

Summary of Goals and Evidence of Capacity Building

The technical assistance goals established through IDOE strongly align to current educational priorities of ED (e.g., SIGs) and IDOE (e.g., Differentiated Accountability Model), as shown in Tables 1, 2, and 9. During the past four years, it is evident to Great Lakes East that the capacity of the Title I staff has grown from codevelopment and coconducting to the level of Great Lakes East serving as a coach or mentor to the final level of Title I staff conducting the work alone with Great Lakes East being available on an “as-needed” basis. This growth demonstrates an internal capacity for and sustainability of the work. Because the work with the Title III EL staff and curriculum and instruction staff began in Year 5, their capabilities and confidence will continue to be built in Year 6.

The successful achievement of the RTI technical assistance goal is a strong indication of IDOE’s increased capacity. From September 2009 through September 2010, IDOE realized success with its guidance document, toolkit, pilot school identification, summer professional development program, and pilot implementation. Along the way, they sought the constructive criticism and support from a stakeholder community, including higher education, union, advocacy, and school leadership groups.

Great Lakes East and IDOE efforts in the area of College and Career Preparation resulted in two successful professional development programs: (1) mathematics instruction in career and technology courses and (2) classroom (technology) innovations in mathematics. IDOE is well prepared and positioned to continue the professional development program for the same two groups of participants during the current school year. Through these processes, IDOE staff gained increased vision for the future of their departments and for new initiatives to advance student achievement. They have asked for Great Lakes East’s continuing partnership in Year 6 as they strengthen their course content in alignment with the Common Core State Standards.

Photo of teacher with student.

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