Excellence. Equity. And All Means All.
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Issue 11, June 2014

Experiencing Success at M.A. Lynch

By Jessica Meisenheimer (LEA Faciliator, SWIFT), Martha Hinman (Executive Director of Student Services, Redmond School District), & Desiree Margo (Principal, M.A. Lynch Elementary)

M.A. Lynch Elementary School in Redmond, Oregon committed to transforming systems to benefit all students after attending the Professional Learning Institute (PLI) in July of 2013. The SWIFT-Lynch partnership developed throughout the 2013-2014 school year, prompting several systems-change processes. This article will highlight examples of implementation that exemplify SWIFT exploration and transformation.   

1. Envisioning Lynch as a SWIFT School (Exploration Stage: Developing a Shared Understanding of SWIFT): The Leadership Team (LT) at Lynch includes a school administrator, general educators from each grade level, specialized educators, and a school counselor. To begin the transformation process, the LT envisioned what they wanted their SWIFT school to look like. The team used the “Envisioning Your SWIFT School” template to identify current strengths and opportunities for growth in the five SWIFT domains and across each part of the school day. After completing an initial draft of the template, LT members hosted SWIFT Cafés to incorporate input from the staff at large. Each LT member sat at a table representing a particular part of the school day (e.g., Arrival, Core Reading Block, Lunch, Recess). The other staff rotated from table to table, given the opportunity to add to the strengths/opportunities list and ask clarifying questions (See pictures from the SWIFT Café). Ideas from all staff members were consolidated into a single document “Envisioning – as a SWIFT School 2013-14,” providing Lynch with a solid base of identified strengths to build upon and a clear understanding of opportunities for growth. At the Fall Staff Retreat, Lynch staff plan to use this document to create vision statements, ending the day with an Adoption vote for SWIFT Installation.

2. Students Engaged in Transformation (SWIFT Feature: Inclusive Behavior Instruction): Lynch has uniquely engaged students as models for one another in School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Lynch values the “3 Be’s”: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe. To ensure universal understanding of the 3 Be’s, all students participate in “Lynch Rules Round Up” three times a year, with abbreviated sessions after winter and spring breaks. Rules Round Up involves rotating students among eight stations in various school environments, including bathrooms, hallways, lunch lines, and so on. At each station a teacher or other staff member defines how the 3 Be’s apply specifically to that place. Students role-play positive examples of the skills expected of them.

As a high poverty school, Lynch students have high levels of mobility. Lynch addresses the need for new students to learn about the 3 Be’s through a "Rules Round Up" video created by the Lynch Student Leadership Team, known as Alpha Club.  Access this 5-minute, student-made video on the SWIFT YouTube channel.

3. Increasing Systematicity (SWIFT Domain: Administrative Leadership): Systemizing solutions is a recurring theme at Lynch, as is distributed decision making. A perfect example of improving systems and practices occurred as a result of what could have been simply a negative event. A student was injured on the playground while playing a chase game with an older student. The principal, instead of viewing the event solely as a disciplinary issue, chose to examine whether recess systems were adequately supporting the students. The principal and staff examined and asked themselves a series of questions about how they could improve systems to prevent future injuries. Examples include:
  • The Master Schedule ensures older and younger students are not on the playground at the same time. The principal asked staff to review the Master Schedule and work collaboratively with vertical teams to analyze whether schedule changes were needed. She reminded staff that once they made a schedule decision, they all needed to support it to ensure safety of all students.
  • Should zones be created so that teachers can adequately supervise our very large playground?
  • Should the "Rules Round Up" be revisited, e.g., no running on the blacktop?
The result of this inquiry process was that classroom teachers realized the importance of supporting the Master Schedule and agreed to play an organized game with their class if they decide to take their class out at an unscheduled recess time.

4. ALL Means ALL (SWIFT Domain: Integrated Education Framework): When a new student who has autism enrolled, the Lynch LT worked prior to the start date for the student to develop a support plan that included a picture schedule, behavioral expectations, and a social story. The team communicated the plan to all staff that would work with the student and the student’s parent. The school had not encountered a student with these types of unique needs in the past, but took on the challenges and opportunity to learn as a team and school to increase their capacity to serve all students. This student has been successful with the supports in place and is able to receive his education with his peers. Lynch staff strengthened their capacity and confidence for working with all students and plans to increase this capacity over the upcoming school years. To learn more about the work at Lynch, check out this video on the SWIFT YouTube Channel.

News from SWIFT Headquarters

SWIFT continues to spread the word that “ALL Means ALL.”  National Public Radio, webinar offerings, and local television stations are publicizing the message of schoolwide inclusive transformation.

In our partner state of Vermont, educational leaders were featured on Northwest Access Television discussing their first year as an implementation state. Highgate Elementary School principal, Marcel Choquette, said: 

“SWIFT is a conversation about the possibilities for schools. What does an ideal school look like for kids, for parents and communities, as well as for staff? The greatest challenge we have is that SWIFT is asking us to stand in the future and act from vision, and predict what our kids’ needs are going to be in three years, four years, five years.”

Following a recent Region 5 Parent Centers webinar about SWIFT Center, participant Leslie Girard of Topeka, Kansas offered the following reflection:

“We all yearn for a sense of belonging.  As Parent Centers, we need to continue to work every day to help families and children belong. If we don’t, there will be someone there to catch them—unfortunately that 'someone' comes with a name such as unemployment, welfare, segregated setting, gang member, etc. It begs the question, ‘Where do you want to belong?’” 

SWIFT Center Director Wayne Sailor represented the message during a recent feature about autism and educational practices on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” He explained: 

“In a fully integrated school, kids with autism may have a very complex schedule to help in meeting their specific needs. And all students get different tiers of assistance—whether it's a bit of personal attention, or engaging with the whole class, or helping the student next to them. The important point is kids move fluidly back and forth through the tiers as needed. That sort of fluid inclusion model undeniably takes coordination—but not necessarily more resources— and so far, the outcomes look pretty positive for all students.”

As the message "ALL Means ALL" is carried through local and national channels, our hope is that educators, families, and communities everywhere ask themselves “Where do you want [students] to belong?” and then “stand in the future and act from vision.” Because, when students of all abilities learn and grow together, “the outcomes look pretty positive for all students.”

SWIFT Data Wall

SWIFT Center is developing a data-based decision making support tool known as "Data Wall." Data Wall is a web-based application that integrates multiple data sources to provide useful analyses to help educators, school administrators, and technical assistance teams (a) identify organizational and student strengths and needs, (b) guide data-based problem solving, and (c) monitor progress related to implementation and intervention efforts. By uniquely combining different data sources, Data Wall provides a useful picture to help make better administrative and instructional decisions.

Research widely reports that effective schools use data to improve instruction and better meet the support needs of students. However, effective use of data does not automatically extend from just having available data. Successful schools tend to have cultures that value using data for instructional and administrative decisions and that align their actions with the implications of data analysis. In these data-driven cultures, educators view data as an essential tool to investigate questions about organizational and student learning needs; administrators encourage data-based problem solving; and technology powerfully supports the decision-making process with information graphics and data analysis functions in user friendly formats.

Although many data and data display tools are currently available to educators, not every data element or analysis is a powerful indicator for making critical decisions. SWIFT Data Wall is designed to be a tool that prompts the schoolwide transformation to data-based problem-solving school culture by drawing together important and useful data, analytical methods, and presentation displays. While our SWIFT technical assistance continuously provides supports to improve educators’ data literacy through goal setting and action plans generating activities based on data, Data Wall will be an intelligent tool to help educators observe reality, acquire information, and understand opportunities to improve teaching and learning. All Data Wall-related activities can be summarized into the "Sync-Link-Think" framework.
“Sync” functionality is about bringing all data into one place (i.e., SWIFT database). Schools are capturing a diverse set of data from scattered databases, making review of all levels of data a difficult, if not impossible, task. Data Wall connects multiple existing data sources and places different types of data into one location that is available to educators. 

“Link” functionality is about creating data relationships to help educators figure out how one core feature can impact another feature or outcome (e.g., relationship between the improved engaged site leadership and students’ academic performance). Various data display methods (e.g., graphs, color coded snapshots, scatter plots) and new data associations that educators make (e.g., displaying percentage of students in each proficiency level across different disability status groups) are part of this "Link" function. Further, educators will be able to save their own displays showing particular charts that interest them.

“Think” functionality is about using Data Wall as a tool to understand data and make information meaningful for school transformation. Several Data Wall features contribute to this function. First, display of positive growth from the last data point encourages educators and supports a strengths-based implementation approach. Educators can easily inspect associated gains from different data sources. Second, strong intervention-focused data displays facilitate progress monitoring at the school and individual student levels within a specific intervention time frame, and support intervention integrity (or fidelity) and related outcomes. This tool allows educators to monitor intervention effectiveness and receive quality feedback from which to adjust interventions. Finally, Data Wall displays pre-determined alerts or goal achievements for specific groups or individuals. This "Think" function can indicate the need for such actions as changing a student’s tier, making a tier II or III intervention modification, or providing a teacher professional learning on a particular skill or strategy.

Data Wall is a unique tool to support SWIFT intensive technical assistance as well as future school, district, and state sustainability efforts. Additionally, Data Wall will remain a flexible tool that can be incorporated into any existing data display system that a school currently uses. This requirement means that each Data Wall component can be separated, and a specific part of Data Wall (e.g., school level SWIFT implementation data) can be installed in a different data system.

Data Wall will be pilot tested with three SWIFT LEAs at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Following pilot test feedback, Data Wall will be tailored to the field and made ready for other SWIFT schools.

SWIFT Talk Community of Practice

Assessing Student Achievement

In this month’s Community of Practice, two important issues are raised about assessment. "Why Assessments Matter for All Students" is a thoughtful blog post written by TASH Director Barb Trader about the importance and challenges of including ALL students in standardized accountability measures. In Dr. Alvin Taylor’s post about his experience as a superintendent in the SWIFT implementation state of Mississippi, he discusses student achievement beyond data collected from test scores. How are you measuring student achievement?  Head over to SWIFT Talk and join the conversation! 

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 11, June 2014. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.
SWIFT Center
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