The beginning of a new school year is such an exciting time! In ongoing efforts to transform into the strongest, most effective schools and districts that truly support all learners’ social and academic needs, Oregon SWIFT partners began this school year with clear plans for continued implementation of the SWIFT features. Although each district’s priorities vary, the dedication to the work is evident in school teams around the state.
Pendleton School District’s emphasis on co-planning and co-teaching to maximize instructional resources for targeted multi-tiered instruction is visibly apparent across all elementary schools. Regular education teachers, special education teachers, Title I teachers, counselors, and principals can be found meeting in teams across the district to analyze multiple sources of screening data to inform instructional decisions for all students. In observing one data team at West Hills intermediate school, a special education teacher remarked that this teaming process truly reinforces the idea that all students in the school are “our kids.” Teaming in this fashion allows teams to make the most informed decisions regarding students’ academic and behavioral needs. The West Hills team further remarked that they no longer place a student in a “special education group” solely because of IEP goals, but rather they look at the data of all students and make informed decisions to best meet individual students’ academic needs, providing instruction in the general education classroom with small group skill support for all students, from struggling to advanced.
This teaming approach to instruction is also evident in Portland Public Schools, where teams of teachers are collaborating to make instructional decisions for all students. Principal Kathleen Elwood successfully re-allocated resources to hire an additional certified special education teacher to maximize co-teaching opportunities in Irvington K-8 School. SWIFT teams at Irvington also, very observably, strengthened their collaboration with parents as educational partners during Back to School week as the gym was transformed into a Parent Fair! Parents dropped off students at school and then wandered into the gym to be greeted by other parents sharing information. Multiple booths displayed a multitude of ways families could be connected to the school community. This emphasis on the importance of authentic parent engagement is also evident in the visioning work at Atkinson Elementary School. Their leadership team planned and prepared to engage parents and students in this process during their Back to School Night.
Above:The SWIFT Leadership team at Atkinson Elementary School in Portland, Oregon engaged families in the visioning process at their Back to School Night. Families were invited to use a sticky dot to select their favorite version of the school vision statement.
Entering their third year, schools and districts across the state are finding that the SWIFT framework serves as an excellent vehicle for aligning school, district, and state initiatives. Redmond School District, in particular, used the SWIFT framework as a format for completing their State Comprehensive Achievement Plan in Indistar. Aligning school efforts in this way allows schools and districts to maximize resources and efforts for improving instruction and academic outcomes for all students.
With the support of state partners, the Sisters School District began the school year with a complete MTSS matrix for inclusive behavior instruction. After attending training last fall—led by Kathleen Lane at the Oregon SWIFT Professional Learning Institute (PLI)—Sisters and several other SWIFT partner schools in Oregon walked away with a much deeper understanding of how to create a comprehensive Multi-Tiered System of Support for inclusive behavior instruction in their schools. Sisters’ SWIFT leadership team—like several other teams across the state—focused their energy on completing implementation of MTSS for behavior. They began the 2015-2016 school year with a system in place to provide necessary supports for students based on the screening results from their fall behavior screener. Next, they will share their work with other SWIFT partner schools at the October 6, 2015 PLI in Hood River, Oregon.
This fall, Oregon's PLI will provide an opportunity for all SWIFT districts to learn new strategies for advancing the transformation in their schools. Additionally, schools will have an opportunity to share their successes and find ways to address barriers as they network and collaborate with other SWIFT partners schools and districts across the state. Today is definitely an exciting time in Oregon education as state, districts, and schools continue their SWIFT work and build highly effective schools that support the needs of all learners.
Below left: Parents at Irvington School held an informative Parent Fair for all families in their school.
Below right: Members from the West Hills Leadership team in Pendleton, OR review screening data.