Lower Hudson RSE-TASC: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going in 2018-2019?

Happy September, and welcome back!  At the Lower Hudson RSE-TASC we are excited about the new school year and the initiatives in which we will be collaborating with you.  To set the stage, we wanted to look back at the accomplishments of last year and share some plans for the upcoming year.

Looking Back:  2017-2018

First of all, thank you to the more than 350 educators who responded to our end-of-year survey, telling us whether our regional trainings had hit the mark last year.  Here’s who responded:

Student Outcome Bright Spots: What Works, and How Can We Do More of It?

On June 7, more than 250 educators from across our region joined in celebrating student outcomes, learning what works, and how to do more of it.  This occurred at our first-ever RSE-TASC Student Outcomes Conference a/k/a SOcon.  Seventeen school, agency, and program teams celebrated the student outcomes that they’ve achieved, and shared how they did it.  Student outcomes refer to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students need in order to be independent and successful in school, career, and community.  Student outcomes are why we exist as educators.  Thus, SOcon was not a conference.  SOcon was a switch – “from archaeological problem solving to bright-spot evangelizing” (Heath & Heath, 2010, p. 48).

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support – Lower Hudson Schools Are Models for NYS!

New York State is on a mission to improve outcomes of students with disabilities and the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) is our blueprint for achieving that.  “The SSIP is a multi-year, achievable plan developed by NYSED, in consultation with stakeholders, that is designed to increase the capacity of school districts to implement, scale up, and sustain evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.” (NYSED OSE, 2017)  The evidence-based practice that NYS is choosing to implement through the SSIP is the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework.  MTSS is a decision-making framework to guide schools and districts in selecting and implementing evidence-based practices for improving students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes (McIntosh & Goodman, 2016).

Fluency: The Forgotten Component of Literacy Instruction

Why should educators focus on fluency? Experts in the field have determined that reading fluency is the best overall measure of reading growth in first to sixth grades (Feldman, 2017). Fluency is the bridge between comprehension and decoding. If students are fluent readers, reading will not be drudgery but a fun exercise. When reading is perceived as fun, students are more likely to practice. Practice leads to growth and skill development.

Guidance for Language Proficiency Teams

In December 2014, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) issued changes to Part 154 of the Chancellor’s Regulations concerning English Language Learners. One of the revisions requires schools to create a Language Proficiency Team, or LPT, for the purpose of determining the English language proficiency status of students with disabilities. This past month, NYSED released the long-awaited guidance, Commissioner’s Regulations on Subparts 154-2 and 154-3: Determining English Language Learner/Multilingual Learner (ELL/MLL) Status of and Services for Students with Disabilities (found mid-page at: http://www.nysed.gov/bilingual-ed/regulations-concerning-english-language-learnersmultilingual-learners).

New Diploma Option for Students with Disabilities

The New York State Board of Regents approved an emergency measure which provides eligible students with disabilities an additional opportunity to earn local diplomas.  The option, referred to as the Superintendent Determination Amendment, went into effect Jan. 1, 2018.  Students who have current Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and who earn the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential may be eligible.

Teacher-Student Relationships and Academic Achievement: What’s the Connection?

Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household one of the authors, Ann, was subjected to an ample variety of “dichos”, or sayings, with nuanced meanings. She was repeatedly warned against laziness and lying. Her mother was very concerned about who she spent time with and would frequently say “Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres” (“Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are.”) She certainly didn’t know it but she was referring to the similarity/attraction effect!

Making New Year’s Resolutions? Select and Implement an Evidence-Based Practice in Your School or Classroom!

January marks the beginning of a new year and brings with it a spirit of reflection and commitment to self-improvement.  Many of us make plans to change a current work routine or establish a new one, but weeks to months later, find we have fallen back into the old routine and are wondering why the new one did not take root.

Finding ways to start and sustain new “ways of working” has been a challenge for individuals and organizations since New Year’s resolutions began!  However, thanks to the field of Implementation Science (Blasé et al, 2015), we are beginning to discover processes that ensure we both choose the right evidence-based practice (EBP) to address an identified need and create the conditions that make it take root and thrive. Need a reminder of what EBPs are?  They are practices that are supported by multiple, high-quality studies that utilize research designs from which causality can be inferred (group experimental, group quasi-experimental, and single subject) and that demonstrate meaningful effects on student outcomes  (Boniello, 2016; Cook & Odom, 2013). Finding EBPs in the field of education is becoming easier and easier as there is a growing body of high quality research on instructional practices, with a related increase in resources for learning about them. (See our School Tool on page 3 for some trustworthy sources of EBPs.)

Check-In/Check-Out: A Tier 2 Behavior Support

When students with significant behavioral challenges do not receive adequate intervention, the costs can be astronomical. Not only do unaddressed behavior problems lead to negative individual, family, and educational outcomes such as poor achievement and dropping out, but they also lead to significant financial costs to society (Predy, McIntosh, & Frank, 2014). Consider this: “the monetary value of individually supporting one child at risk of challenging behavior from birth to adulthood is between $2.6 and $4.4 million but increases to over $5.8 million if intervention begins after age 14 years” (Cohen & Piquero, 2009).

Put Me In, Coach!: Enhancing Teachers’ Competence and Confidence through Practice-Based Coaching

Anyone in education has likely experienced poorly designed professional development (PD) at one time or another. We are stuck in a meeting or lecture where the content does not apply to our work or the focus of the meeting is uninspiring (anyone want to spend a day learning how to fill out a form correctly?). Or the PD is engaging and interesting, but it is a one-off; we leave energized, but the next day the folder gets lost among mountains of paperwork, never to be seen again. Unsurprisingly, this type of PD does little to change teacher practices and has no effect on student outcomes. 

Fortunately, there is a solution: coaching! According to Joyce and Showers (2002), training alone only results in 0-5% of participants using their new skills in the classroom – yikes! -- but when training is accompanied by coaching a whopping 95% of participants use these skills in the classroom.
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