January 2016 • Issue 28 View & Print
SWIFT Schools home page

SWIFT is proud to introduce several resources to assist in schoolwide transformation to achieve equity-based inclusive education. Visit our website to discover new ways to access the ever-expanding set of resources that can help you meet the needs of students, their families, educators, and the communities in which they reside. New resources include:

  • SWIFT Unscripted — Be inspired and informed on your morning walks and car rides by listening to SWIFT Unscripted podcasts via iTunes
  • Partner Sites — On our partner site webpages, meet SWIFT partner schools from across the nation and see spotlights of state specific SWIFT news, blogs, and podcasts
  • Webinars — Check out SWIFT Shelf for monthly webinars about SWIFT Domains and Features delivered by leaders in the field!
  • FAQs — If you find yourself at the end of the website and have an unanswered question, click on the FAQ section for more information.

Stay tuned as we continue to produce new resources. Share your All Means All questions. Tell us what is happening in your schools. Stay in touch via comments on SWIFT Talk, SWIFT Unscripted, Facebook, or Twitter, and emails to swift@ku.edu.

A graphic of SWIFT resource books

TASH International Recognition

SWIFT partner TASH was recognized for innovation in inclusive education by The Zero Project, an international non-governmental organization that monitors the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. TASH was selected for this honor because of their policy analysis and alignment work with SWIFT. They will be featured at the 2016 Zero Project Conference on Inclusive Education and Information and Communication Technology in Vienna, Austria in February. TASH’s work uses policy as a tool to support the sustainability and scale-up of practices that improve academic and behavioral outcomes for all children.


In November's newsletter, we asked the question: "Are students with significant disabilities fully included and engaged in Tier One (or First Instruction) in your school?" Over 50% of you answered "no." Thank you for your responses as your answers are one of our data points to identify needs and interests in the area of technical assistance and resource development. Join the SWIFT Community of Practice by connecting to SWIFT Talk and Unscripted to learn more about supporting students with extensive support needs in general education.


In your school system, do students who do not use their voice to express themselves have assistive technology or other supports to express themselves fully in general education classes and routines?


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

Universal Screeners on the Horizon for Maryland School Systems

The State of Maryland is three years into its participation in the Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT). This involvement with SWIFT caused Maryland partner sites to become increasingly interested in variables that impact behavior and academics and the most effective ways to identify best practices to support students' needs. A training facilitated by Dr. Kathleen Lane, University of Kansas, in June 2015 sparked their exploration of a variety of "Universal Screeners."

Universal Screening creates opportunities to provide students with best practices in academics, as well as behavior instruction and support, in the context of a Response to Intervention (RTI) prevention model of a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Universal Screening is a critical first step in identifying students who are most likely to experience learning or behavior difficulties so that supports can be provided to prevent those difficulties. Schools typically administer these screenings to all students three times a year in the fall, winter, and spring.

All four Maryland SWIFT districts (Queen Anne’s, Cecil, Allegany, and Baltimore City) are now using academic and behavior screeners. They continue to explore a variety of other screening tools and use screening data to make decisions about academic and behavior supports tailored to students’ needs. Maryland SWIFT partner sites continue to work towards improving academic and social outcomes for ALL students! And the statewide support for MTSS is an important part of their work.

Mathematics in Maryland

Maryland SWIFT partner schools and districts are focused on mathematics in 2015-16. Three of the four district teams identified mathematics as a priority on their Data Snapshots, and the SEA Leadership/Implementation Team decided to devote this year’s professional learning to mathematics. In November, the Maryland State Department of Education hosted teams of principals, district office math specialists, and classroom teachers from the SWIFT partner LEAs in the first in a series of professional learning institutes dedicated to mathematics. With the planning and assistance of the Mathematics Coordinator Debra Ward, and Mathematics Education Specialists Linda Schoenbrodt and Marci Frye, the teams spent two days in beautiful Hunt Valley, MD learning more about teaching mathematics from Dr. John Tapper of Hartford University.

Dr. Tapper believes that all students can learn to do mathematics well. His work is grounded in finding ways to support struggling math learners to be successful. Each participant received a copy of his book Solving for Why: Understanding, Assessing, and Teaching Students Who Struggle with Math. Dr. Tapper led the participants through three big ideas:

  • understanding of appropriate Maryland College and Career-Ready mathematical content
  • better understanding of students’ mathematical thinking
  • deeper understanding of the relationship between pedagogical choices and student understanding

The group engaged in activities on mathematics at a conceptual level, stressing the importance of understanding HOW students use mental math to arrive at solutions to math problems and equations, and were introduced to the Concrete, Abstract, and Representational models of mathematic concepts. They also watched video of teachers working with individual students explaining how they arrived at answers to problems provided during an interview. Dr. Tapper emphasized that teacher understanding of how students arrive at their answers is vital to working with students who struggle with math. Afterward, an overwhelming number of participants indicated that they would like to dig deeper into this work.

Below: SWIFT staff members and Maryland educational leadership recently spent time looking at student data and setting priorities. Their focus included early literacy learning and high quality reading instruction in elementary schools within a Multi-Tiered System of Support.

Students at a MS school
Swift Unscripted
Students at a MS school

The newest addition to our website, SWIFT Unscripted, can be added to your iTunes play list so that you can listen at your leisure to leaders in the field of All Means All. In Teaching the Teacher,” Dr. Allyson Satter from SWIFT tells the story of how one student taught his teacher some valuable lessons about the power of inclusive education. In our second podcast, "Schoolwide Transformation in Mississippi," Dr. Andrea Mayfield from the Mississippi Department of Education shares her views on the transformation taking place to ensure all students can attend and be supported in their home schools rather than in schools for special populations. Give these a listen and tell us what you think!

Swift Talk
Community of Practice
Students sitting in front of a white board and two teachers each raising a hand

In the first of a two part series focused on inclusion for students with extensive support needs, Dr. Jennifer Kurth, University of Kansas, discusses Four Essential Variables of Inclusive Schools. Janet Gnall, SWIFT's paraeducator blogger, informs the SWIFT audience about the role of the papareducator facilitating peer to peer connections in "Authentic Relationships and All Means All: Observations from a Paraeducator.

The SWIFT Center produced this document under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H326Y120005. 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. (2016). SWIFT News, Issue 28, January 2016. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.

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