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Great Lakes East
Comprehensive Center

Indiana Record of Services

Summer 2009

State Manager: Frank De Rosa

The Indiana Institute for School Leadership Teams. The two-year institute completed its one-year anniversary in summer 2009 with the original Cohort I schools beginning their second year and the new Cohort II schools beginning their first year. Designed and supported by the Indiana Department of Education's (IDOE) Differentiated Learning and Title I area and Great Lakes East (led by Jayne Sowers, Ed.D., school and district improvement lead), the institute is established to counter the struggles of the urban principalship by offering a leadership team approach, providing ongoing support and mentoring, and affording extensive focused times outside of the school building to work together. The institute's components include the following:

  • Ongoing, two-year assistance from an Indiana Distinguished Principal
  • Summer Academy I and II—three days of focused work each summer
  • School-Year Sessions—with all school leadership teams meeting together three times a year

In addition, the institute's outcomes correspond to Indiana's Title I Theory of Action and adult learning theory. During each summer academy, three to five activities and processes allow for the school leadership teams to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Understand and begin to implement the characteristics of a high-performing school leadership team focused solely on improving student learning.
  • Develop a set of data findings by analyzing student and school data for all students and for student groups.
  • Formulate a two-year school leadership team goal centered on improving student learning through instruction, assessment, and curriculum.
  • Delineate a set of team tasks that when fully implemented will lead to the achievement of the two-year goal and begin to address those tasks at the Summer Academy.
  • Increase knowledge and skills in specific areas related to improving student learning as gained through topical sessions, resources, and research provided, and through guidance from the Indiana Distinguished Principals.

Recently, both Cohort I and Cohort II participated in the Summer Academy process. For each cohort, the three-day event allowed for extensive amounts of time in their teams and working closely with their Distinguished Principals.

The Cohort I schools, participating in their second Summer Academy, presented and celebrated the improvement in their Indiana index ratings (see Table 1). Based on Indiana's Differentiated Accountability Model, the higher the index rating, the farther away the school is from making adequate yearly progress (AYP) and/or the more student groups are not making AYP. Thus, the school goal is to lower the index rating. As shown in Table 1, all three Cohort I schools made extensive progress in lowering their index rating.

Table 1. Indiana Index Ratings of Cohort I Schools

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The School Leadership Team members mentioned several key areas that they believe led to the increase in student learning: the use of data by all teachers to determine specific students' needs, additional time before and after school for tutoring the students who were closest to passing the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress—Plus (ISTEP+), and a newfound belief in high expectations for all students and staff. The School Leadership Teams specifically acknowledged their time and work with their Distinguished Principals as critical to the changes they have instituted.

Starting its first year of the Institute, the new Cohort II consists of nine teams in school improvement status from around the state. The Summer Academy in June 2009 was their first exposure to the institute and, according to the participants' evaluations, was a very positive experience. Remarks included the following: "I've never worked so hard, got so much accomplished and learned so much in 10+ years of being a teacher" and "The organization and guidance was much more than I expected." Other participants noted the "individualized assistance," the "positive assistance," and "the precise and targeted" information presented.

Both cohorts will continue to receive support from their Distinguished Principals throughout the year and will attend fall and spring sessions as a whole group to share and continue their work. The Institute for School Leadership Teams is one of several supports that Great Lakes East is assisting the Indiana Department of Education in providing to its schools in the highest levels of improvement.

Indiana Record of Services

Spring 2009

State Manager: Frank De Rosa

In April 2009, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) leadership team and the Great Lakes East management staff convened to discuss recent changes in both IDOE (new administration and staff) and Great Lakes East (new state manager for Indiana). IDOE has requested support and assistance from Great Lakes East on the following five topics:

  • IDOE’s reading summit and the development of a K–12 reading framework
  • IDOE’s mathematics summit and the development of a K–12 mathematics framework
  • Identification of best practices in teacher-generated formative assessments
  • Research and development of “what works” with English language learners
  • School districts as they design and implement response to intervention programs

These topics will be discussed further throughout May and June 2009 and will be built into the new Indiana technical assistance for Year 5, which begins on July 1, 2009. The following section is an update regarding the two ongoing areas of Great Lakes East’s collaborative work with IDOE: district improvement and school improvement.

District Improvement

For the third year, the IDOE Office of Title I Academic Support and Great Lakes East provided technical assistance to a new group of districts designated as “in improvement.” On March 18, 2009, three districts entering Year 1 of improvement attended an all-day workshop in Carmel, Indiana. The following day, March 19, six districts participated in the workshop for districts in Year 3 of improvement, corrective action.

Both workshops were fully aligned to the Office of Title I Theory of Action, which is derived from research on high-performing, high-poverty schools and districts. IDOE Title I Specialist Liz Harmon worked closely with Great Lakes East to plan, refine, and implement the materials for the two-day event. During the first day, Year 1 district teams thoroughly reviewed the eight components from the Theory of Action and completed a self-assessment indicating how they support their schools in implementing the components. The districts also began to disaggregate student data to recognize achievement patterns and areas of needs. The teams will use these findings to examine the appropriateness and rigor of their curriculum and instruction, especially for student groups not making adequate yearly progress (AYP). The results will be used to develop a district improvement plan that centers on curriculum, instruction, and formative assessments.

The audience for the second day was the six districts entering Year 3 of improvement. The day began with a discussion of the Office of Title I Theory of Action and a brief analysis of student data. The teams spent the majority of the day considering curriculum, instruction, and formative assessments as the means for improving student learning. Prior to the workshop, many districts had concluded that they did not have a strongly aligned English language arts curriculum and were ready to make extensive changes to the curriculum. Through a curriculum self-assessment checklist, all district teams determined their curricula were not sufficient. A process of developing a new curriculum, called “mapping and aligning the curriculum,” was introduced by Schauna Findley, Ph.D., curriculum director at Fort Wayne Community Schools. Having led her district in mapping the curriculum throughout the past two years, Dr. Findley brought experiential examples as well as essential information to the teams. With the assistance of the table facilitators (provided by IDOE and Great Lakes East), the districts began to edit their district improvement plans with the goal of creating a newly aligned English language arts curriculum. These districts will receive additional training in curriculum mapping in June.

School Improvement

In July 2008, IDOE received acceptance of its differentiated accountability model from the U.S. Department of Education. Under the model, the requirements of and supports for schools in improvement vary depending on an index rating. The rating is a calculation of (1) the number of student cells not making AYP and (2) the distance of the scores from a predetermined target. Depending on the resulting number, schools are then designated as focused, comprehensive, or comprehensive-intensive. The higher the score, the more needs the school has in improving student learning.

Instructional Coaches Training for the 50 Comprehensive Schools. Under Indiana’s differentiated accountability model, the comprehensive schools are the 50 schools that have the highest index rating, which means that they are the schools that are struggling the most. Comprehensive schools are required to hire a mathematics or English language arts coach who is then trained by IDOE. With Great Lakes East’s support, the fifth session of instructional coaches’ training was held on February 24, 2009. At the previous session in January 2009, the coaches requested to hear from experienced coaches. IDOE Title I Specialist Amy Bush took on this challenge, inviting and preparing several experienced coaches from Indiana Title I schools to present at the February training. The coaches included Peggy Beltrame, Darlene Duvall, and Susan Hall from Indianapolis Public Schools; Betsy Snapp from Metropolitan School District of Warren Township; and Alicia Stevens from Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township.

The five coaches shared their experiences through a panel and question-and-answer session. A common theme emerged from the coaches—relationship building with teachers—as foundational to the concept of coaching. Hall said, “It is so important to build relationships with the teachers. Some are resistant to having a coach, but by developing the relationships, you build a foundation. This was the turning point for me at my school.”

In the afternoon, the coaches in training selected from several small-group sessions to attend. Two of the experienced coaches presented instructional strategies for teaching vocabulary in English language arts and problem solving in mathematics. Staff from the IDOE Office of Student Assessment discussed changes in the new spring Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress–Plus (ISTEP+) testing, the best ways to prepare students for testing, and the use of scoring rubrics. Other participants attended the session “The Role of the Curriculum Coach,” presented by Jayne Sowers, Ed.D., (Great Lakes East). Additional training will be provided for the instructional coaches during the next school year, and a new cohort of coaches will be added.

Institute for School Leadership. Eighteen months ago, IDOE Office of Title I requested Great Lakes East’s assistance in developing supports for its schools in improvement in the area of leadership. The research and best practices provided by Great Lakes East clearly pointed to the concept of school leadership teams as a means to improving schools. The subsequently developed Indiana Institute for School Leadership Teams has completed its first year of the two-year program. A significant component of the institute is the utilization of successful Title I principals assigned to each school leadership team. Identified as “distinguished principals,” this group meets with the teams throughout the year and provides them with ongoing support.

Originally, Cohort I consisted of five schools. However, during 2008–09, one school closed and one school was removed from participation by its district office, resulting in three schools in the cohort. The remaining three school leadership teams met again on April 16, 2009, for their third school-year session. Led by their distinguished principals (supported and trained by IDOE and Great Lakes East), the teams reviewed their successes and challenges in meeting the goals in their action plan. In addition, each team proudly reported the percentage change in their index score (a computation related to AYP scores). The three schools realized significant change in lowering their index score from last year to this year by 39 percent, 73 percent, and 99 percent. This model of computation allows schools to show growth whether or not they make AYP, which one of the three schools did accomplish this year. While many variables affect student scores and participation rates, the teams described the singular focus on student learning that was created by the institute’s processes and the experience and knowledge of the distinguished principals as key factors in the changes occurring in their schools.

This initial Cohort I of school leadership teams will enter its second year of support beginning with its summer academy in July 2009. Meanwhile, Cohort II teams are forming, and distinguished principals are being trained and assigned to their schools. On April 15, 2009, and May 16, 2009, training for six new and four returning distinguished principals was held. The day-long sessions were led by Cheryl Williams, director of outreach services at Learning Innovations at WestEd, with support from Great Lakes East and the Office of Title I (Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, director of differentiated learning; Teresa Neely, coordinator of Title I; and Laura Cope and Sarah Pies, Title I specialists). The distinguished principals and the Institute planning team are preparing for the three-day summer academy for Cohort II (in June) followed by Cohort I (in July). During the academy, the school leadership teams will create action plans based on research and best practices regarding school improvement with a focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessments and will be led by the distinguished principals.

Michigan Record of Services

Spring 2009

State Manager: Gary Appel

Teacher Quality

Revisions to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) individual professional development plan and supporting tools are nearing completion and are expected to be available in June 2009. The changes reflect feedback from stakeholder meetings and focus groups held earlier this year by Great Lakes East with new and experienced teachers, principals, MDE staff, and university professors. Concurrently, staff from the Office of Professional Preparation Services are seeking support to create an electronic version of the current individual professional development plan template. Great Lakes East will assist MDE staff in designing professional learning opportunities to support the teachers and administrators who will participate in the field test of the plan later in the year. The field test will be conducted during the 2009–10 school year with support from the American Institutes of Research.

High School

High School Redesign. Great Lakes East continues to cofacilitate MDE’s cross-office, collaborative high school core team as MDE seeks ways to support increasing student achievement in Michigan’s high schools. Core team meetings in February and March focused on reviewing high school proficiency data. MDE has identified all schools that have not made AYP for two or more years. Identified Title I schools receive statewide system of support services; however, many Michigan high schools are not Title I schools. Currently, the core team is striving to identify high-poverty high schools that are “beating the odds” that can be studied to identify promising practices. What is learned from their examples will help guide the design of state-level support.

Great Lakes East conducted a survey in March 2009 of the high school core team members. The purpose of the survey was to identify core team members’ recommendations for the potential future direction of the team; their experience on the team; and their perception of the support, information, and guidance provided by Great Lakes East. Among the multiple responses, 100 percent of the members indicated that their participation on the team has positively informed their work, and 94 percent believe that the team can effectively support MDE in aligning high school initiatives across the department. The survey results were shared with Deputy Superintendent Sally Vaughn and Office of School Improvement Interim Director MaryAlice Galloway. The high school core team will continue its work to support MDE as it supports increasing student achievement in high schools.

Alternative High Schools. In the past year, Great Lakes East formed and has been facilitating an alternative education work group at the request of MDE’s Deputy Superintendent Sally Vaughn. Consisting of representatives from MDE’s offices, the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, and districts and schools, the group works to identify issues, concerns, and barriers that alternative high schools face in meeting the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum and the Michigan Merit Examination. One of the major issues identified by the group involves AYP. The group reported that students typically enroll in alternative high schools after they have had difficulty finding success in traditional high schools and are often several years behind their peers academically. In the current system, the alternative school providing instruction receives the student proficiency scores and is held accountable for AYP.

These discussions helped to inform the superintendent’s office about the impact of the current policy for reporting AYP for alternative high schools. On April 9, 2009, Superintendent Mike Flanagan sent a letter to Michigan schools and districts indicating that a new system will be implemented in the 2010–11 school year that will shift the achievement data and AYP status of certain alternative education schools back to the sending schools. A newly formed MDE work group will develop the Michigan Student Data System to track and report the data.

Statewide System of Support

Great Lakes East is working closely with MDE, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA), and its partners to expand and enhance the current statewide system of support. MAISA and MDE are collaborating to develop additional support for high-priority schools in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Proposed enhancements for high-priority schools include data-driven decision-making training, selection of evidence-based interventions, and instructional coaches to ensure fidelity of the implementation of interventions. Great Lakes East continues to work with MDE and MAISA to ensure coherence of the system, including the new enhancements. The new Coherence in Statewide Systems of Support guide from the Center on Innovation & Improvement was shared with MDE’s statewide system of support core team members at the core team meeting on April 23, 2009. Representatives from the Ohio Department of Education attended the meeting to leverage their statewide systems of support efforts with MDE. Great Lakes East will work with the core team during a retreat in May to reimage the system delivery, including expansions, in order to customize support to schools and districts.

English Language Learners. At the request of MDE, Great Lakes East, along with the subcontractor the Center for Applied Linguistics, initiated a cross-department dialogue related to English language learners (ELLs). On February 10–11, Great Lakes East convened this event with multidepartment participation to help MDE focus on Michigan results from the recent release of Education Week’s Quality Counts 2009. Conversations were led by Edynn Sato, Ph.D., of the Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center at WestEd and Joy Peyton of the Center for Applied Linguistics. At the core of the conversations were the topics of ELL assessment and factors related to the teaching profession.

As a result of the February event, an MDE cross-office ELL core team was created. On March 25, 2009, the first follow-up meeting took place, facilitated by Great Lakes East, in which the core team members identified realistic strategies to address specific ELL needs at the department and in the state. Another scheduled meeting in May set the stage for the core team’s mission and action plans in implementing ELL goals.

Great Lakes East also assisted MDE with the planning of its annual ELL director’s conference on May 7, 2009. The conference theme focused on Education Week’s Quality Counts 2009 results for Michigan. Joy Peyton of the Center for Applied Linguistics provided the opening plenary address.

Also in May, Great Lakes East cofacilitated the quarterly meeting of the combined Office of School Improvement and Office of Educational Assessment and Accountability statewide ELL Advisory Committee. Work continued on the implementation of MDE’s ELL strategic plan, with specific attention to engaging higher education. Work also moved forward on helping the field look at the instructional implications of test results and ways to provide effective professional development to ELL teachers.

Response to Intervention. Great Lakes East will support MDE and its partners in the design and implementation of a newly emerged initiative, a statewide response to intervention (RTI). Great Lakes East will assist MDE’s RTI core team as they work to develop a statewide framework for RTI. The team is composed of staff members from MDE’s Office of Special Education & Early Intervention Services and Office of School Improvement. At the team’s initial meeting in April 2009, information was shared on the state’s School Improvement Framework (SIF). The team explored connections and interrelationships between SIF and the emerging RTI Framework. Darren Woodruff, Ph.D., of the National Center on Response to Intervention joined the meeting and shared a national perspective. As a result of the meeting, SIF staff members and RTI core team members will discuss the alignment of SIF and RTI tools, as well as the development of new tools, in the upcoming months to support school improvement.

OhioRecord of Services

Spring 2009

State Manager: Mark Mitchell

Assessment and Accountability

Data Support System and the Ohio Improvement Process. The Data Driven Decisions for Academic Achievement (D3A2) Professional Development Committee continues to meet with a focus on a new set of opportunities. The D3A2 system is at a crossroads in its development: The data warehouse is functional and able to store student demographic and achievement data; the data tool enables registered users to access item analysis data; the resource exchange provides teachers access to high-quality educational content, including lesson plans and assessments items; the professional development toolkit is available to districts and schools; and the data scrubber is available as an online utility to help districts upload their achievement data onto the data warehouse. Some emerging initiatives include the completion of classroom assessment modules, piloting of these modules by districts, and design of training materials. Also planned is an expansion of capacity to store and retrieve other kinds of assessments within the data warehouse, especially data that can be pulled into the Decision Framework.

The design and dissemination of a formative assessment tool is another major element of the work of the D3A2 Professional Development Committee. On March 10, 2009, Karen Sanders and Linda McDonald (RMC Research Corporation); Mark Mitchell (Great Lakes East state manager for Ohio); and Stephen Barr, Deb Telfer, Debbie Roshto, and Jim Wright (Ohio Department of Education [ODE]) participated in a phone conference with the New York State Education Department, New York Comprehensive Center, and WestEd, focusing on New York’s work on common formative assessments with the Syracuse City Schools. At the March 19, 2009, D3A2 meeting, Sanders and Mitchell described the common formative assessment work that was piloted in the Syracuse City Schools and the role of the state of New York and the New York Comprehensive Center in this work. The Syracuse City Schools and the state of New York use an assessment system model developed by the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST). The committee is considering using this model with modification in Ohio. One of the common outcomes from this meeting was an agreement to adopt in Ohio the definition of formative assessments developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The next steps include fitting the CRESST assessment model to an Ohio context. Great Lakes East will help ODE establish a working group to guide the formative assessment work including ODE staff from the Office of School Improvement and Office of Curriculum and Assessment. Additional partners will include Great Lakes East, RMC Research Corporation, and the National Center on Educational Outcomes based in Minnesota.

Credit Flexibility: Shifting Focus From Seat Time to Performance. Ohio is engaged in multiple initiatives to redesign the high school experience. One of these initiatives includes the performance-based assessment pilot project and a policy push to increase credit flexibility at the district level, which will support alternative measures of student competency, including performance assessments. The Winter 2009 News for the Region (pp. 16–17) provides some background on the credit flexibility work. The Ohio State Board of Education asked ODE to develop a plan for enabling earned credit other than seat time. The proposed credit flexibility plan, codeveloped by ODE and Great Lakes East, was presented by Sarah Luchs (ODE), Tori Cirks (Great Lakes East), and Mark Mitchell (Great Lakes East) before the Ohio State Board of Education on March 10, 2009. The final credit flexibility report, which includes a summary of the feedback from meetings with stakeholders, was completed in May 2009.

ODE expects that beginning in September 2009, some early-adopter districts will use the credit flexibility plan to begin offering opportunities for students to earn credits flexibly through online courses, internships, portfolios, and other means. Great Lakes East is working with ODE staff to determine how best to support implementation both at the early-adopter stage and on a larger scale. From the stakeholder engagement meetings, much of the feedback focused on assuring a consistent level of quality of alternative assessments across Ohio. Some stakeholders mentioned the need for an open source repository for sharing resources that might include the following: model rubrics and alternative assessments; best practices of states and districts that have used credit flexibility; and a resource map that might assist in connecting schools, external partners, and community resources.

Ohio Performance Assessments and International Assessment and Accountability Systems. Emerging work of ODE and Great Lakes East to gather information about international assessment and accountability systems is currently in progress and will be used to inform the performance assessment work and ongoing discussions to redesign the accountability system. Great Lakes East will support the high school performance assessment work by gathering and synthesizing information from assessment and accountability systems internationally—including Australia (Queensland), Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom, and Singapore. Technical aspects of these systems—such as the processes and structures for assuring validity, reliability, and comparability—of performance assessments will be a key focus of this information gathering by Great Lakes East. This information—along with descriptions of course syllabi, professional development and teacher preparation, and artifacts of performance assessments—will provide ODE with models to consider as they pilot and begin to implement a new secondary assessment system in Ohio.

State Systems of Support

Ohio Improvement Process—Stages 3 and 4. From February through April, Great Lakes East continued its collaboration with the Stage 3 subcommittee (composed of members from the state-level design team) to articulate the structures and processes for Stage 3 of the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP). These structures and processes will be used by district and building leadership teams to effectively implement and monitor their improvement plans. These structures and processes have formed the backbone of the Stage 3 section of the Ohio Improvement Process Facilitator Guide.

In the United States, very few districts seem to have effective systems in place for implementation and monitoring of their improvement plans. One such district is in Norfolk, Virginia. A team from Ohio composed of some state-level design team members as well as Sheryl Poggi (Great Lakes East consultant) conducted a site visit to Norfolk in April to observe district and building leadership teams and interview key people at the district to get a sense of what processes and structures were in place. Findings from this visit will be used to inform Ohio’s training and support of regional providers and district and building leadership teams.

The larger state-level design team, facilitated by Great Lakes East, met on March 30–31 and April 27–28 to review and comment on the work of the Stage 3 subcommittee and to begin planning for a large training session in September for state support teams and Educational Service Center staff. The purpose of this training session is to build the capacity of the state system of support to effectively facilitate and monitor the work of district and building leadership teams as they implement and monitor their improvement plans.

Another aspect of the OIP design and implementation work has been recognition that large urban districts require different strategies for facilitation of district and building leadership teams. ODE held an urban strategies meeting, facilitated by Great Lakes East on February 20, 2009, to help the team identify these strategies and techniques for facilitation and discuss implications for training and for the refinement of the Facilitator Guide. In addition, work continues on the Ohio Improvement Process website, which will help members of the Ohio educational system access data tools and evidence-based resources that align to and support each stage of the OIP.

Ohio Improvement Process Evaluation. On March 31, 2009, an ODE working group, supported by Great Lakes East, completed a draft of indicators for each level of Ohio’s education system: building, district, region, and state. These indicators are intended to demonstrate whether significant elements of the OIP are occurring and to what extent. Most indicators provide a measure of change in adult behaviors and practices across the system and a few measure changes to the system of support provided to districts and buildings. One example of an indicator at the district level under Stages 1 and 2 of the OIP is as follows: “One hundred percent of districts served identify/affirm critical needs and probable causes contributing to those needs using the Ohio Decision Framework by November.” When combined, these indicators should provide a composite picture of the healthy functioning of the OIP as well as indicate areas of weakness. Next steps for the working group include identifying existing capacity in the system for measurement of indicators and describing how data about these measurements are collected, analyzed, and used across levels of the system, from building to district to region to state.

Archive

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