November 2015 • Issue 27 View & Print
Henderson School student faces

SWIFT Task Forces

SWIFT's Better Together and My Brother’s Keeper task forces met in early November to identify promising strategies for our partner states, districts, and schools to transform whole educational systems to support all students in their local schools in general education classrooms. Both task forces included national leaders in the field of inclusive education and schoolwide transformation, as well as leaders from SWIFT partner state educational agencies. Michael K. Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education, provided opening remarks to each task force.

Better Together explored how to minimize the need for separate educational environments for students with extensive support needs, as well as ways to elevate conversations in each of our SWIFT partner states regarding the logistics of bringing students together.

My Brother’s Keeper met to develop a deeper understanding of racial issues in America affecting schools and consider ways to bring an end to disproportionate identification for special education and exclusion by out-of-school or alternative school placements for students of color.

We look forward to Task Force recommendations for our partner schools as they work to ensure that all students are well supported and participating in their home schools and general education curriculum to be college and career ready!

New SWIFT Films in Development

Next on the horizon, the SWIFT film team will capture SWIFT partner sites in Mississippi, Oregon, and Maryland, with a goal of producing two new SWIFT films. Upcoming films will feature students with disabilities accessing the general education curriculum through excellent examples of differentiated instruction, peer support, collaborative teaching, and universal design for learning. We will be sure to let you know when these latest films are available!

Congratulations Dr. Cox!

Dr. David Cox, Superintendent of Allegany County Public Schools-a SWIFT partner site-was named 2016 Maryland Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Cox is a district leader who facilitates a dynamic governance structure that enhances learning for all students. His approach to district leadership fosters the optimum internal and external conditions necessary for meeting the needs of all students in Allegany County Public Schools.

A graphic of SWIFT resource books

Differentiated Technical Assistance for Sustainable Transformation

SWIFT technical assistance process supports states, districts, and schools as they become excellent and equitable teaching and learning environments for all students. For more information about our approach to technical assistance, see our newest brief. SWIFT technical assistance uniquely integrates six practices that are not entirely new ideas, but rest on evidence from past successes in significant school transformation. At the same time, SWIFT continues to evolve and learn from partners as well as other federally sponsored technical assistance centers. SWIFT’s six technical assistance practices described in the brief are: 1) Visioning, 2) Data Snapshots, 3) Priority and Practice Planning, 4) Resource Mapping and Matching, 5) Transformation Teaming, and 6) Coaching and Facilitation. For more information, download and share our latest brief.

Save the Date for the 2016 PLI!

Remember to save the date for the 2016 Better Together Professional Learning Institute, July 21-22, 2016, in Arlington, VA! More information to come in future newsletters.


About 50% of respondents to last month's poll reported using SWIFT Field Guide to promote inclusive practices in their schools. The Field Guide is organized by SWIFT's five domains and ten features. Explore it to learn more about SWIFT and resources you might use in your school or classroom to support unified teaching and learning. If you are new to the Guide, you may find the How to Use SWIFT Field Guide page and video helpful.

Are students with significant disabilities fully included and engaged in Tier One (or First Instruction) in your school?


A young African American girl who is missing a tooth and raising her hand in class State Spotlight:

4th Grade Gains and More!

Mississippi is proud to report that the state's 4th grade reading and math score gains led the nation – especially for students with disabilities. Dr. Andrea Mayfield (left) of the Mississippi Department of Education believes much of this success is influenced by elements of the SWIFT framework that increase equity and excellence for all students. “Our five year plan is to create a world class educational system where every student is successful. It's not just about where students are sitting in a classroom; it's about how they are accessing the information. We are scaling up Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and increasing Universal Design for Learning-strategies to meet the needs of all learners-because all means all. It's about everybody!” says Gretchen Cagle of the Mississippi DOE.

Meridian, North Panola, and Sunflower, MS school districts recently participated in a week of filming with Dan Habib and the SWIFT film crew. Dr. Mayfield and the local principals and superintendents led the way as the film crew captured SWIFT domains and features in action in three elementary schools. Habib said about the filming experience, “One of the things that moved me the most was filming in a school like Sunflower Elementary where 100% of the kids are on free and reduced lunch and the median family income is $19k a year. Despite those challenges, students of all abilities were learning together in the general education classroom.” Habib noted that he was especially impressed with how families and community members were meaningfully engaged in schools throughout the school day.

Students at a MS school
Schoolyard Quotes
Kids from Newberry Elementary

“We used to write a lesson for the masses, then adapt it for particular students. Now…we’re SWIFT…we have the full diversity of our students in mind as we design our lessons. I’m thinking about each and every child in my room as I’m putting together my plans and selecting resources.” ~ Teacher from SWIFT partner school in Allegany, Maryland

“When we walk around our schools, we need to be asking the question ‘Who isn’t here who belongs in this building?’ That is where we need to be focusing our attention.” ~ Amy McCart, SWIFT Director of Technical Assistance

Swift Talk
Community of Practice
Student sitting on a ball at his computer

What do going to the doctor's office and learning in a classroom have to do with one another? Dr. Loui Lord Nelson provides another insightful blog on the importance of creating spaces that are universally designed throughout all life circumstances. Michael Tursi, Superintendent from SWIFT partner schools in Milton and Wakefield, New Hampshire, describes how he engaged communities and stakeholders in the SWIFT Visioning practice. Read it here and tell us what you think!

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: SWIFT Center. (2015). SWIFT News, Issue 27, November 2015. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.

Click here to unsubscribe from this mailing list.

SWIFT Center
1315 Wakarusa Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049