Excellence. Equity. And All Means All.
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Issue 13, August 2014

Spotlight on Maryland

Who are these people and why are the smiling?
If you’ve ever presented to and actively engaged a group of 60+ educators at a national conference for 90 minutes at the end of the day, then you probably understand the big smiles on everyone’s faces. Actually, they are smiling for two reasons: 1) they were honored to have the invitation to present and 2) they had a success story to share.
Moving from Start-up to Scale-up: Maryland’s Story of
Implementing and Merging Reform Initiatives to Support ALL Students

OSEP Project Directors Conference, Washington, DC

Tuesday, July 23, 2014, 3:30-5:00 pm

Main Characters (from left to right)
*Amy McCart, SWIFT Director of Technical Assistance
*Carol Quirk, SWIFT State Education Agency (SEA) Facilitator
*Paul Dunford, Branch Chief, Programmatic Support and Technical Assistance, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, Maryland State Department of Education
*Linda Rohrbaugh, SWIFT Local Educational Agency (LEA) Facilitator
*Diane McGowan, Supervisor of Special Education, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools
*Carol Kamp, Principal, Matapeake Elementary School, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools

Like other states, Maryland has adopted programs, initiatives, and projects to bring evidence-based practices to its schools to improve teaching and learning, particularly in areas where students live in poverty and schools are struggling to meet the needs of a diverse student body. Maryland has implemented and brought to scale Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as the schoolwide practice to improve student engagement and social behavior. Further, the Maryland State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) focuses on improving math results and narrowing the achievement gap for students who receive special education services.

In 2013, Maryland entered into a partnership with the SWIFT Center to transform general and special education services through inclusive multi-tiered academic and behavior instruction. This initiative uses the principles of implementation science to build an infrastructure to support implementation, as well as district and state capacity for sustainability and scale-up across the state. 

The OSEP session focused on how Maryland's Queen Anne’s County Public Schools district is merging SWIFT and PBIS to increase positive outcomes for students. One of the district's four SWIFT partner schools, Matapeake Elementary, joined in presenting lessons learned from this experience.

Main Ideas from the Presentation
* Garner stakeholder support and participation to develop a shared vision for inclusive education
* Gather multiple data sources to identify school/district/state priorities
* Create state and district implementation teams representative of the content and expertise needed to support school transformation
* Establish and empower school leadership/transformation teams
* Break down silos to build collaboration and communication structures
* Utilize a strengths-based approach to improve practices and identify priorities

Summary Take Away
Through unifying education reform initiatives, schools can transform and sustain improved practices over time. Blending initiatives, efficient use of resources, braiding funding sources, and effective school improvement planning can support success for ALL students.

Additional conference information: https://www.osep-meeting.org/ 

Successes and Proud Accomplishments from Queen Anne's other SWIFT Partner Schools

Sudlersville Middle School

* Only secondary school in the county whose students were not referred to the Alternative School
* Highest attendance rate for any school in the district—historically the lowest
* Students are finding reasons for coming to school—there is a purpose and school is a safe haven
* Assistant Principal is picking up students from home and making family connections
* Instituted instructional rounds to provide frequent feedback and collaborative support for teachers

Sudlersville Elementary School    

* Strong belief of staff for inclusive education and best practices
* Teachers take pride and ownership of their students; they feel the responsibility for all of their students to achieve
* School vision is totally aligned to the SWIFT framework
* Cultural Competence Committee established to build the success of minority students, create a welcoming environment for parents, and increase stakeholder involvement.  
* Increased student achievement in 4th grade reading and math
* School Climate Committee (multi-grade level teams) met monthly and used collaborative planning and problem solving to build success for all students
* Provided leadership opportunities to build staff capacity

SWIFT Spotlight on the Equity Alliance

SWIFT staff, colleagues, and members of the National Leadership Consortium and Advisory Group are fully committed to cultural responsiveness and educational equity.  Our partnership with the Equity Alliance (equityallianceatasu.org) helps to ensure that the SWIFT community values and integrates all students’ cultures, languages, heritages, and experiences into their learning and development.  Evidence of this integration, as well as the strategies to support cultural responsiveness, can be found within each of the SWIFT Domains and Features—the building blocks of effective inclusive education.
“This shift in thinking prompts schools to get involved with families rather than just expecting families to get involved with schools.” ~ Elizabeth Kozleski
COMING SOON: For the SWIFT Community of Practice, Equity Alliance and National Leadership Consortium member Elizabeth Kozleski will moderate a conversation on cultural responsiveness in education through a GoodReads.com book club.  Discussion will be around the book: “White Teachers / Diverse Classrooms: Creating Inclusive Schools, Building on Students' Diversity, and Providing True Educational Equity,” edited by Julie Landsman and Chance W. Lewis (Stylus Publishing, LLC.).  Start reading now, and watch for details on SWIFT’s Facebook and Twitter pages about how to sign up for this book club.

News from SWIFT Headquarters

SWIFT partner states are each holding Professional Learning Institutes (PLI) to kick off their second year of SWIFT transformations.  New Hampshire’s SWIFT team led the way with an energizing two days in late July.  Up next is the Vermont PLI on September 23rd-24th, followed by Mississippi’s on September 30th-October 1st, Maryland’s on October 1st-2nd, and Oregon’s on October 22nd-23rd. 

SWIFT LEA and SEA facilitators honed their skills this summer at two professional learning and planning retreats.  They focused on the SWIFT intensive technical assistance process, including such topics as active implementation communication, collaboration, and team structures; the strengths-based and data-based prioritization processes that are hallmarks of SWIFT TA; and leveraging existing resources to transform educational systems for excellent and equitable education for all students. 
If you haven’t been to the SWIFT website in a while, be sure to check out the changes to our home page highlighting some of our newly added resources.  These resources are designed to assist in transforming education to promote academic, behavioral, and social success for ALL students.

SWIFT Talk Community of Practice


Are you are wondering what it means to be a “SWIFT School?” If so, you will be especially interested in the recent blog post by Carol Kamp, Principal of Matapeake Elementary School in Stevensville, MD—Step by Step with SWIFT in Maryland.  In honor of the month of August, our blogger "Sassysoutherngal" posted a Dear Teacher letter providing support educators preparing for the school year and classrooms where everyone belongs. 
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The SWIFT Center produced this document under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H325Y120005. OSEP Project Officers Grace Zamora Durán and Tina Diamond served as the project officers. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred. This product is public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: National Center for Schoolwide Inclusive School Reform: The SWIFT Center. (2014). SWIFT News, Issue 13, August 2014. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.
SWIFT Center
1315 Wakarusa Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049