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Great Lakes East
Comprehensive Center

Record of Services

Spring 2008


State Manager: Jayne Sowers

Between August and October 2008, a number of events occurred in Indiana to support its schools and districts in improvement. Great Lakes East with other external providers assisted the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE)—Office of Title I Academic Support in planning, implementing, and reviewing several of the supports to the schools and districts.

Training of Instructional Coaches for the Indiana Differentiated Accountability Model

A two-day kickoff for 50 instructional coaches of Indiana's Title I schools with greatest need was launched on September 9–10. External trainers Sonia Caus Gleason, senior consultant, Learning Innovations at WestEd, and Cheryl Williams, director of Outreach Services, Learning Innovations at WestEd, led the training for English language arts and mathematics coaches from comprehensive schools as identified through the recently federally approved Indiana Differentiated Accountability Model.

On the first day, the participants learned about the 10 roles that coaches serve, such as resource provider, classroom supporter, learning facilitator, and data coach, and received a personal copy of the book Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teachers and School-Based Coaches (Killion & Harrison, 2006) published by the National Staff Development Council. The participants discussed the importance of clarifying their various roles as coaches with their principal, classroom teachers, and assistants. With the diagnostic assessments of Wireless Generation and Acuity being a new requirement for comprehensive schools, two Indiana practitioners gave a presentation, which received high marks, on how their schools use the data from the assessments to determine students' individual learning needs and provide the appropriate instruction.

"Collaboration" was a theme of the second day, as it is central to the instructional coaching process. The presenters provided a set of tools, referred to as the "Seven Norms of Collaboration" (Center for Adaptive Schools, 2006). The coaches will receive continued support between training sessions through small-group conference calls with the trainers, and their principals will receive a newsletter following each training.


Center for Adaptive Schools. (2006). Seven norms of collaboration: A supporting toolkit. Highlands Ranch, CO: Author. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from http://www.adaptiveschools.com/pdf/SevenNormsToolkit.pdf

Killion, J., & Harrison, C. (2006). Taking the lead: New roles for teachers and school-based coaches. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.

The Indiana Institute for School Leadership Teams: Starting the School Year

As announced in the Summer 2008 Great Lakes East e-newsletter (Adobe PDF Icon Adobe® Reader® PDF), IDOE Office of Title I Academic Support with Great Lakes East's assistance embarked on a new support for schools in improvement, known as the Institute for School Leadership Teams. Five Title I elementary schools began the Institute in late spring, participated in a highly successful three-day Summer Academy, and developed their school leadership team plans to roll out in their schools this fall.

On October 16, 2008, the School Leadership Teams returned to Indianapolis to share their successes and struggles since July and plan for the upcoming three months. However, the number of schools decreased from five to four as a district determined that its principal and key staff needed to remain in the building rather than attend the Institute. This is not a surprising outcome—a last-minute change in principals is a common occurrence in urban, high-poverty schools, which tend to suffer from a revolving door of leadership, last-minute changes, and numerous initiatives to implement.

Of the four remaining schools, three had focused their July through September activities on obtaining and/or using student data to plan instruction and/or preparing students for the fall Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+), Indiana's standardized assessment. All three schools reported newly found school focus and energy in preparing students for ISTEP+ through the use of data and of a school vision that making adequate yearly progress (AYP) was a possibility. The fourth school focused on improving student behavior through implementing rituals and routines with fidelity to be observed through principal walk-throughs of this activity. The team reported that the school was in the implementation stage. Overall, all four schools reported good "buy-in" and energy from their school staff toward the concept of the School Leadership Team as a means to improve student achievement.

However, when much energy is expended, it may be followed by a lack of energy, known in the literature as the "implementation dip." Presenter Nick Hardy, senior program associate, Learning Innovations at WestEd, provided the information, and the Distinguished Principals shared personal experiences of implementation dips in their schools. The presenter also discussed expecting resistance from some staff as the teams continue their activities. He introduced ways that teams might counter resistance and help people through that time.

In the afternoon, the teams planned their next three months of activities. Several considered proactive ways to deal with the possibility that the school does not make AYP, following the release of ISTEP+ scores. Several teams plan to visit their Distinguished Principal's school soon in order to observe firsthand the use of high-quality instruction, curriculum, and assessment. For others, their Distinguished Principal plans to be with the school when ISTEP+ results are released to model disaggregating the data to determine next steps.

As described by one participant, the most valuable part of this first School-Year Session of the Institute was the realization "that we need all the parts of our team to create a united front. Our school will succeed with guidance and a positive attitude. [We need to] have a plan, implement it, and follow through." A full story of one School Leadership Team's journey is provided on page 2 in this newsletter.


State Manager: Gary Appel

Statewide System of Support

Michigan's Statewide System of Support. Throughout July and October, Great Lakes East facilitated meetings of the Michigan Department of Education's (MDE) Statewide System of Support Partners' Team. The team's partners include Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, Michigan State University, Michigan Institute for Educational Management, North Central Association, and Michigan's Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative. Representatives from these organizations gathered to assess Michigan's current plan for its statewide system of support and develop a more aligned and refined plan for 2008–09.

In August, Great Lakes East joined MDE in meeting with leadership from Detroit Public Schools to identify how to adapt MDE's statewide system of support plan for Detroit Public Schools. In September, Great Lakes East planned and facilitated MDE's premeeting in Chicago prior to the Center for Innovation & Improvement's annual Institute. At that meeting, Kerstin Carlson LeFloch of the American Institutes for Research shared the results of two recent national research projects on statewide systems of support and discussed possible implications for Michigan's work. The participants discussed refinements for the 2008–09 plan of Michigan's statewide system of support and made plans to gather data from key players in the current system to help inform ongoing improvement of the work.

Teacher Quality

Individual Professional Development Plans. In September 2008, Great Lakes East facilitated a meeting with MDE's Office of Professional Preparation and a team of key leaders in Michigan education who had shaped the design of Michigan's Professional Learning Strategic plan and had drafted the individual professional development plan template and process. The purpose of the meeting was to review three different versions of the template and process. The review feedback came from regional focus groups of teachers, mentors, and principals who reviewed the individual professional development plan earlier this year. After much discussion and deliberation, the team of MDE, Great Lakes East, and the American Institutes for Research representatives, drawing on the most applicable aspects of each version, recommended a hybrid of the three versions. Also recommended were additional tools and guidance materials to support the beginning teacher in completing the individual professional development plan. The meeting concluded with a brief discussion by Mark Jenness, Ed.D., from Western Michigan University's Science and Mathematics Program Improvement Center, regarding the design of the 2009 field test this fall. The field test will help the team reassess the quality of the individual professional development plan and determine if it accomplishes its purpose.

Teacher Preparation Redesign Initiative. During summer 2008, Great Lakes East staff worked with three of MDE's consultants (interns), all doctoral candidates, to assist in a standards alignment project. Specifically, the task was to check for alignment between Michigan's Grade Level Content Expectations, High School Content Expectations, Certification Standards for Elementary Teachers, and Professional Standards for Michigan Teachers. The alignment for English language arts has been completed, and work is now in progress on the mathematics standards. On October 20, 2008, Great Lakes East staff met with MDE staff to discuss ways to strengthen the final report of standards review. Moving forward, Great Lakes East will provide support to the MDE consultants in strengthening the findings and recommendations, particularly in making connections between what research tells us and the recommendations. In addition, Great Lakes East staff will offer guidance on strengthening the policy report for mathematics. After both reports are complete, Great Lakes East staff will assist MDE to use the results of the alignment studies and reports as a foundation for developing a Michigan framework for excellence in teacher preparation.

High School

High School Redesign. Great Lakes East continues its work with MDE's Office of School Improvement to increase student achievement of all student subgroups through the high school core team, formed by MDE and Great Lakes East. Great Lakes East has been helping MDE create an online tool where all MDE offices as well as their partners from various teams can have single access to information about Michigan's high school reform and can share information about their work. The core team met on September 17, 2008, to discuss issues and concerns about the use of the tool so that the MDE offices and their partners find it useful. The goal of the tool is to help users identify promising practices and areas for collaboration and to increase the coherence of the high school improvement work across Michigan.

In addition to the online tool, Great Lakes East assisted MDE by providing research from the National High School Center on promising practices for high school improvement. Research reports included the Report on Key Practices and Policies of Consistently Higher Performing High Schools and the Eight Elements of High School Improvement: A Mapping Framework, which can be found on the National High School Center website. These research reports and other relevant information supplement the online tool, where MDE staff members and key partners working on high school redesign can access this information.

On October 20, 2008, Great Lakes East worked with MDE to facilitate a focus group from Ingham County at the statewide Dropout Prevention Leadership Summit. The summit convened educators, parents, students, and community members from the across the state to learn more about the dropout crisis, why graduating more students from high school is critical for our society and economy, and how everyone can work together locally to keep students in school.

Alternative High Schools. Great Lakes East is working with MDE to identify solutions to the issues and barriers that impact increased student achievement in alternative high schools. Great Lakes East conducted a survey of the members of the alternative education work group. The work group consists of educators from various districts across the state, as well as representatives from MDE's Office of School Improvement, Office of Education Technology; Office of Education, Assessment and Accountability; the Superintendent's office; and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. The survey was used to prioritize the issues and barriers and identify the top three. This information was provided to MDE's Deputy Superintendent Sally Vaughn, Ph.D., for review and determination of next steps. Great Lakes East will facilitate a meeting with Dr. Vaughn and the alternative education work group to determine next steps.

Also, Great Lakes East is providing assistance to MDE in facilitating the work of a subcommittee of the alternative education work group. The subcommittee is developing a recommendation for a statewide definition of alternative education.

Its members met in August and September and are preparing to present the recommendation to the work group and Dr. Vaughn at the next meeting. Once approved by the deputy superintendent, the definition will be submitted to the Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan for approval and presentation to the state board of education.

English Language Learners (ELLs). As part of the implementation of MDE's ELL strategic plan, Great Lakes East is assisting MDE to create and refine communication tools for the ELL educators, such as presentations to district leaders and classroom teachers. The presentations outline a rationale and general scope of necessary services to effectively serve ELLs, especially in low-incidence districts (districts with very few ELLs). These presentations will be used by ELL directors across the state with their local leaders and teachers.

As part of this work, Great Lakes East has been collaborating with MDE's Office of School Improvement (OSI) and Office of Educational Assessment and Accountability (OEAA) to combine two current state ELL advisory committees from both offices. Great Lakes East focuses on designing meeting formats and content to facilitate joint committee implementation starting in November. This integration, based on MDE's request, will combine two important committees, which provide input on services to the state's ELLs. Also, Great Lakes East has been assisting MDE in reviewing current instructional and administrative best practices in serving migrant education students and the state's ELL population in light of Michigan's revised high school graduation requirements.

In addition to the ongoing Great Lakes East support to MDE regarding ELLs, a new line of assistance became available in September, when Great Lakes East applied for and received supplemental funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help MDE increase ELL achievement on state accountability tests. The project, titled "Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners in the Great Lakes Region," outlines planned assistance to Illinois and Michigan through June 30, 2009. Work began on the Michigan component of the project in October with a kickoff planning meeting with MDE's OSI and OEAA leadership. Planned activities include facilitating two focused regional forums for the five states in the Great Lakes region with a goal to share and leverage current resources regarding the development of assessments and assessment accommodations for ELLs. Specifically for Michigan, this additional support will strategically expand technical assistance for the statewide ELL strategic plan and its assessment and standard integration component.


State Manager: Mark Mitchell

Great Lakes East continues to assist the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) with intensive support in the area of state systems of support. This state update focuses on the state system of support work as evidenced through the district and school improvement support system redesign; namely, the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) implementation and training of the state support teams.

District and School Improvement Support System Redesign. The Ohio Improvement Process illustrated in Figure 1 in the Ohio feature article on pages 6–10 of this issue, shows how ODE is building a coherent statewide system in which structures, processes, tools, and people are aligned and connected. This improvement process is now being tested through SPDG process. At the same time, ODE has launched capacity-building efforts to train state support teams and educational service center (ESC) staff to facilitate the Ohio Improvement Process with high-, medium-, and low-support districts.

SPDG Implementation. Implementation of the SPDG process is now in its second year. During the first year, 16 Cohort 1 district leadership teams have moved through Stages 1 and 2 of the Ohio Improvement Process. In Stage 1, the district leadership teams used the District Decision Framework tool to identify critical needs in their districts. In Stage 2, they developed a district improvement plan, including focused goals, research-based strategies, and aligned action steps. Trained regional facilitators have worked with each of the district leadership teams during this time and will continue to provide assistance in Year 2.

As the work continues into the second year, the Cohort 1 district leadership teams have identified a building leadership team that can test the improvement process. The goal is to develop a building leadership team structure and determine adult behaviors and practices throughout the districts as detailed by the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council. Each building leadership team will work with their district leadership team to complete a Building Decision Framework and identify action steps at the building level that align with district-identified goals, strategies, and action steps. Finally, district and school improvement plans will then be submitted to the state online consolidated planning and funding tool called the Consolidated Comprehensive Improvement Plan.

In the second year of SPDG, Cohort 2—another group of 16 district leadership teams—will begin the same improvement process (albeit somewhat accelerated) and receive support. The support includes trained regional facilitators: one experienced from the Cohort 1 work and one facilitator new to the SPDG work. During the SPDG design and training period, ODE and its external support team, including Great Lakes East, has learned much about what it takes to move districts through the Ohio Improvement Process. Some of the considerations include the following:

  • Common challenges that district leadership teams face as they move through the improvement process.

  • The kinds of support and training required for facilitators to be effective.

  • How this improvement work best translates into a focused plan that can be implemented throughout the district.

At this point in the process, ODE is poised to build the capacity of SPDG districts to implement their plans and help them move into and through Stage 3 of the Ohio Improvement Process. In this stage, the district leadership teams will be responsible for the systematic monitoring of adult implementation indicators and strategy progress indicators to ensure that implementation stays on track. This scrutiny indicates that plan implementation with fidelity requires a change in practice at all levels of the system—these essential practices are detailed in the OLAC work.

In many ways, the SPDG work has provided ODE and its partners with valuable insights that can be used to make the district and school improvement process even more effective for the larger state system of support—state support teams and ESC staff. The state support teams and the ESC staff are trained to facilitate the Ohio Improvement Process with districts in high-, medium-, and low-support status. Along with regional facilitators, they receive instrumental support and guidance from the state level design team regarding the design, training, and mentoring.

State Support Team Training: August 2008. The state-level design team, facilitated and supported by Great Lakes East team members Sheryl Poggi and Claudette Rasmussen, played an instrumental role in the design and facilitation of the state support team training held on August 4–8. One of the primary outcomes of this meeting was to ensure that the 16 state support teams have the skills and knowledge to consistently facilitate Stages 1 and 2 of the Ohio Improvement Process. This August training resembled an immersion experience for state support team members to work with the tools and processes of the Ohio Improvement Process to master the following:

  • Introduce the Ohio Improvement Process to superintendents and district leadership teams.

  • Conduct and facilitate the identification of critical needs through the Decision Framework.

  • Develop a district improvement plan with focused goals and aligned strategies.

Each training day began with an introductory whole-group session led by ODE staff, SPDG Cohort 1 district teams, and SPDG regional facilitators. Most of the training occurred during regional breakout sessions. State-level design team members presented content and processes and provided opportunities for state support teams to practice their facilitation skills and the application of new knowledge. At the end of each day, state support teams were invited to debrief and think about how they might apply new learning and skills to their local context.

Although this training enhanced understanding and refined the necessary skills to facilitate Stages 1 and 2 of the Ohio Improvement Process, the real test comes as these state support teams begin working with assigned priority districts in fall 2008 through winter 2009. To ease this challenge, the larger state system of support is involved. It includes ESCs—a total of 58 centers across Ohio. Along with ODE staff members, the state support teams provided a series of regional trainings in fall 2008 to train ESC staff in facilitating use of the Decision Framework (Stage 1) with low-support districts. Additional training on Stage 2 facilitation will follow.

As part of these trainings, the state-level design team continues to improve the Ohio Improvement Process Facilitator's Guide and plan for additional training of ESC staff and state support team members. It also continues to provide significant guidance for improving tools and processes used during the SPDG implementation. A focus of future training of state support teams is to build the capacity of district leadership teams to implement and monitor their improvement plans (Stages 3 and 4 of the Ohio Improvement Process).

The Work Ahead

In some ways, the most challenging aspects of full implementation of the Ohio Improvement Process lie ahead. The SPDG work will continue to serve as a test of the process and will provide valuable insights into how improvement processes, training, and tools can be improved. District implementation and monitoring of these focused improvement plans will require significant changes in practice at the district level. District leadership teams will probably play a significant role in monitoring the degree of adult implementation of strategies and actions and evidence of growth through progress and impact indicators detailed in the plan. Building leadership teams will ensure that strategies and actions detailed in the plan are implemented—including high-quality professional development and the use of common formative assessments. The district leadership team will also evaluate the improvement process and its impact upon student performance; this evaluation will inform the next cycle of improvement. Currently, the larger evaluation of state systems of support is under design with the support of Great Lakes East (see the feature article on pages 6–10).


Record of Services from Summer, 2010

Record of Services from Spring, 2010

Record of Services from Winter, 2010

Record of Services from Fall, 2009

Record of Services from Summer, 2009

Record of Services from Spring, 2008

Record of Services from Winter, 2008

Record of Services from Fall, 2007

Record of Services from Spring, 2007

Record of Services from Winter, 2007

Record of Services from October, 2006

Record of Services from July, 2006

Record of Services from April, 2006