School Tools

There are many web-based tools to support educators in implementing evidence-based practices that improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Each month, a new tool is identified in the School Tools section of the Lower Hudson Regional Partnership Center Reporter. Here are some valuable tools that have been featured in past issues of the Reporter.

Read the full RAND Corporation research report, Making Sense of Data-Driven Decision Making in Education, on which our June 2019 Newsletter Article is based.  The Research Roundup from the National Association of Elementary School Principals, entitled Data that Drives Decisions, includes additional links to reports on data-driven decision-making in schools.

A great source of information about local community providers are resource guides which list the agencies that serve people with disabilities in our region.

* For Westchester County, you can access a resource guide, the Disability Resource Guide, on the Westchester County Government website.  For more information on the Westchester Educators and Community Agencies Network (WE-CAN), email Kit Casey.

* For Rockland County, access the local resource guide at Reaching for the Future. For more information about the Rockland Transition Consortium by email Mary Ellen Urinyi or Dawn Kitz.

* For Putnam County, email Stephanie Wozniak or Jessica Baumann for a copy of the Putnam Resource Guide and for information on the Putnam County Transition Consortium.

Another great source of information is the Community Resource Map on the website.

The University of Minnesota National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET), funded by the College of Education and Human Development, publishes Research-to-Practice Briefs on evidence-based practices that improve secondary education and transition services.  These free and downloadable briefs cover topics from community mapping to self-determination to teaching word identification skills.

One of the briefs is on Collaborative Strategic Reading.  This brief gives an overview of the research on CSR, a detailed outline of the steps for implementing CSR, examples of materials to use when implementing CSR, and perspectives from teachers who have implemented CSR in their classrooms.  If you are interested in implementing CSR in your classroom, it is a terrific place to start!

Want to check out your own classroom management skills?

Below is a link to a checklist that can be used to assess the fidelity of implementation of classroom management practices. Teachers can use it as a self-assessment or they can ask a peer or administrator to complete it during a brief observation.

Click here to download a Word version of the self-assessment checklist: Self-Assessment Revised, Simonsen, B, Fairbanks, S, Briesch, A, & Sugai, G.:

Understanding and articulating one’s strengths, interests, preferences and needs is the foundation for self-determination. I’m Determined! is a free website offering materials and resources to educators, parents and students of all ages.  Videos are available featuring students discussing their own personal experiences.  Other materials include downloadable templates on topics including tips on helping students prepare for their IEP meetings, graphic organizers to help students plan their days, and more.  Educators in particular may find the modules useful.  They highlight specific areas such as disability awareness and include links to other resources.  For those who want comprehensive materials to use in the classroom, check out the I’m Determined Toolbox for Self-Determination.

Click here to reach the I’m Determined! website.


Implementation has to be purposeful and planned. School- or district-wide implementation cannot be the result of one person’s work. The National Implementation Research Network’s Active Implementation Hub, this month’s school tool, helps your team learn about implementation, from an overview through to creating and using fidelity measures. On the AIHub, teams can complete learning modules (45-60 minutes each) and interactive lessons (5-15 minutes each), all with the goal to get started and get better.

Want to jump straight to work on developing fidelity of implementation tools? Click here for a simple tool to begin defining core elements of your program —  and here to find a step-by-step guide for developing a fidelity assessment.



More than one RSE-TASC specialist has focused on what research and best practices have to say about classroom formative assessments.  In addition to Krista Promnitz’ article “Rethinking Classroom Assessment” (reprinted in the December 2018 RSE-TASC Reporter), in the February 2013 RSE-TASC Reporter, then SESIS Martha Trujillo-Torp also took on this critically important topic.  Dr. Torp shared what she had learned both from providing classroom-embedded coaching for teachers and from the book, Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom, by Moss & Brookhart.  Read this informative article in our library of past Reporters by clicking  here.



The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has many resources to help you learn more about Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP).

Check out their DAP Introduction for resources for different student age groups, suggested teaching strategies, and Frequently Asked Questions.

Do you want to collaborate with your students’ family members about appropriate activities for their children?  You can find their tips for explaining DAP to families by clicking here.


Are you looking for strategies that you can teach your students that will help them become more effective and independent writers?  As you learned in the lead article, Self-Regulated Strategy Development, or SRSD, is a highly effective strategy that you can explicitly teach students that has been proven to improve student writing as well as on-task behavior.

Click here to see what the What Works Clearinghouse has to say about the effectiveness of the strategy: What Works Clearinghouse: Self-Regulated Strategy Development

Visit this website to read more about SRSD and find free resources: Think SRSD.  Think SRSD is maintained by a team headed by Steve Graham and Karen Harris who first developed and systematized the strategy.

Learn more about NICs! Read Five Essential Building Blocks for Networked Improvement Communities.

Learn more about the PDSA Improvement Cycle! Watch this short video to understand the key idea behind the PDSA (herein referred to as the Plan-Do-Check-Act or PDCA) improvement cycle, and visit the State Implementation & Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices Center (SISEP) website.

  1. Learn more about Finding and Learning from Bright Spots from SOcon keynote, and RSE-TASC Director, Patti Slobogin, PhD
  2. Learn three critical steps to successfully navigating challenging change from Martha Trujillo-Torp, EdD, RSE-TASC Special Education School Improvement Specialist
  3. Read Switch (Heath & Heath, 2010)! Also, visit the Heath brothers’ website, where you can access helpful, free resources such as: The Switch Framework, 4 Strategies For Motivating Your Team, and 4 Research-Based Tips For Sticking To Your New Years Resolutions.
  4. Read this month’s SOcon bright spots and visit the RSE-TASC website to learn what worked, and how you can do more of it. Then, try the 6-step SOcon framework for celebrating and sharing your student outcomes.  Lastly, celebrate and share your bright spots with us and our region by using this link, and submitting the SHARE YOUR BRIGHT SPOT section at the bottom of the page.



“In many districts and schools, educators are faced with the challenge of having to implement, sustain, and evaluate several different innovations, initiatives, programs or practices at the same time….In some instances, new or existing initiatives may actually be in conflict with each other philosophically, creating confusion and dissonance among leaders and practitioners.”

Sound familiar?

If so, you might want to read the rest of the Technical Guide for Alignment of Initiatives, Programs and Practices in School Districts (2017) from the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavior Interventions and Support.

The Center created the guide to help district examine the fidelity and impact of current practices, and establish systems to effectively select and install new practices.


Click here to see a table, posted at the Reading Rockets website, that shows the mean oral reading fluency (ORF) of students in grades one through six, as determined by Jan Hasbrouck’s and Gerald Tindal’s 2017 data. You can also see an analysis of how the 2017 and 2006 data differ.

While the decisions of the Language Proficiency Team are critically important, decisions made by evaluators and the CSE will affect more students more often. Culturally and linguistically appropriate evaluations are the foundation of appropriate actions by the CSE.

Teachers College at Columbia University’s Leaders Project has posted a great series of videos featuring Dr. Catherine Crowley on distinguishing between difference, disorder, or gap. In this series she draws on current regulations and evidence-based practices to conduct a culturally and linguistically appropriate evaluation. You can find the series by clicking here.


Links to the NYSED memo and the Regents announcement regarding the Superintendent Determination Amendment:

Superintendent Determination of Graduation with a Local Diploma-Updated

Board of Regents Expands Safety Net Option for Students with Disabilities to Earn Local Diploma


Want more information about the various diploma options including the Superintendent’s Determination?  Check out the video series available at New York State Education’s Curriculum and Instruction website:  Six videos are offered, each one featuring a power-point with voice-over instruction:

New York State High School Diploma Requirements Overview

Meeting Diploma Pathway Requirements

The Dual Role of the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential

Meeting the Assessment Requirements for a Regents Diploma or Local Diploma

Meeting the Requirements for the Superintendent Determination of a Local Diploma

Appeal to Graduate with a Lower Score on a Regents Examination Requirements and Information

Each video lasts about six to nine minutes.  They provide viewers with introductory information and the content is delivered in a straight forward manner. Each slide is narrated and individuals as well as large groups will be able to readily access this information.

Having read the article “Teacher-Student Relationships and Academic Achievement:  What’s the Connection?” from our February 2018 newsletter, are you wondering about teacher-student relationships in your school?  Consider surveying staff and students about school climate and relationships.

To see an example of a School Climate Survey that also asks students how connected they feel with their teachers, click on the Survey Example button:


If you would like to see the survey used in the study described in the article, click on the Learn More button below.  (You do have to register, but registration is free.)  There is a link on this page to the National Public Radio podcast about this study on this webpage as well.


Districts interested using this service should contact Ellen Lane, PNW Director of Communications, at 914-248-2235 or email Ellen.

Sometimes it seems every product or practice promoted in education today is labeled “evidence-based” or “research-based” by its creators.  How can an educator be sure that a practice is really evidence-based; i.e., proven through high-quality studies to meaningfully improve student outcomes?  One way is by using websites that experts in the field have identified as trustworthy sources.  In a 2015 article, Test, Kemp-Imman, Diegelmann, Hitt and Bethune identified 26 websites that list instructional EBPs as trustworthy, each with a “clear, specific set of criteria to classify a practice as evidence based”.  Here is a set of five of those resources that we often use as jumping-off points:

* Johns Hopkins’ Best Evidence Encyclopedia

* American Institute for Research, National Center on Intensive Intervention

* National Technical Assistance Center on Transition:

* IRIS Center at Vanderbilt

* OSEP’s What Works Clearinghouse

Test, D. W., Kemp-Inman, A., Diegelmann, K., Hitt, S. B., & Bethune, L. (2015). Are online sources for identifying evidence-based practices trustworthy? An evaluation. Exceptional Children, 82(1), pp. 58-80.

Interested specifically in what works for students with disabilities?  Click on the “Learn More” button below to read the article by RSE-TASC Special Education School Improvement Specialist, Andrew Ecker, that identifies practices from 13 trustworthy websites relevant to teachers of students with disabilities.  The EBPs are organized into six categories: schoolwide framework, literacy instruction, math instruction, assessment, behavior/social skills instruction, and transition.


For more information about Tier 2 supports, check out these resources:

Missouri School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Tier 2 Workbook with chapters on:
Tier 2 Foundational Knowledge; Leadership for Tier 2; Student Identification Process; Function-Based Interventions, Monitoring Student Progress, and Interpreting Data to Make Decisions; and Check-In, Check-Out.
Each chapter contains many useful tools.  A few examples  include a Tier 2 Readiness Checklist, Team Meeting Agenda Template, an Existing School Data Inventory Template, Guidelines for Interpreting Student Data and Making Decisions, and a Parent Notification Letter for Universal Screening.


Answers to FAQs about Tier 2 interventions from


♦ Check out the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) for many resources on PBC, including articles, videos, free webinars, and example action plans!


♦ In addition, here are some examples of Self-Assessments that can be used for needs assessments and goal planning:

Inventory of Practices for Promoting Social-Emotional Competence


Classroom Management Checklist


National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning Example Needs Assessment and Action Plan


The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) at the SAMHSA website is a great resource for learning about scientifically established behavioral health interventions. You can search the registry using keywords and filters to find and read about a wide range of interventions, like mindfulness, for improving student mental health outcomes.

Click here to check out the website.


We work hard to ensure we are providing training and support that Lower Hudson educators need to be able to meet the needs of their students with disabilities.  Each year, we wait with bated breath for the results of our Year-End Survey to see how we did.  This year, we heard from over 350 of you, who attended 800 trainings.  98% of you reported that the trainings were Useful to Extremely Useful.

While attendees felt trainings were useful, we wondered if they had actually applied the learning back at their schools.  We were pleased that 63% reported implementing a new practice learned in the training, and another 25% were planning to

 Examples of changes in practices included:

♦ I made greater use of data to inform interventions and initiated a Check In-Check Out program.

♦ I am insuring the goals, benchmarks, accommodations etc. on the IEP are all aligned.

♦ We now use a streamlined and informed system of conducting FBAs and BIPs.  With a deeper understanding of the FBA-BIP process, we are better able to support families.

♦ I became more reflective in my vocabulary instruction and began to pre-teach and provide direct instruction in this.

♦ I have provided some resources in [students’] native language.  I have allowed verbal responses and other forms of response instead of only written responses in English.

♦ Checking for understanding throughout my entire lesson has proven to be extremely helpful in identifying struggling students right away.

♦ I am planning with my team for getting outside services for students (camps, OPWDD, etc)

♦ I am using the templates to assure accurate goals and measurement.  I’m including students in creation of their IEPs.

♦ With a broader perspective of post-secondary options, I am better able to support families making decisions pertaining to their high school IEP, so that the process is focused on the ultimate outcome.

See our September 2017 Bright Spots to see the impact this had on student outcomes!


Intervention Central is a website that offers free tools and resources for educators. Here you can find the Self Check Behavior Checklist Maker, which allows teachers to create personalized checklists for students to use to manage their classroom behavior. Teachers can create a target behavior or choose from a drop down list (e.g., sharing materials; taking notes; working on an independent assignment; etc.). Teachers can then download or email the checklist in text or PDF format before it’s printed.



On his Instructional Coaching website at Corwin Press, Jim Knight shares a wealth of free resources for school leaders to use in creating better conversations.

Here are a few examples:

* In this mini-manual entitled Community Building:  Witness to the Good, Knight explains key concepts and shares simple ideas for acknowledging what students and staff are doing well.

* With this Instructional Improvement Target, Knight provides an example of a one-page improvement plan that specifies a school community’s targets for what students and teachers will be doing across four critical school improvement areas.

* In Sample Questions, Knight provides examples of coaching questions for teacher observations.

Watch Your Students provides examples of evidence of student impact that teachers can collect to reflect on the effectiveness of their lessons.


Are you thinking about developing a school-based enterprise in your district?  Start-up costs are an important consideration, but profitable businesses can start with little or no initial funding, particularly if recycled products are used.  To learn more about indoor gardens, such as the one developed by the students at Yonkers Riverside High School, check out the Balcony Garden website.

Grant funding may be available through home improvement stores, such as Lowes and Home Depot.  Both offer grants of up to $5,000.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grants focus on fulfilling the unique interests and needs of the school and surrounding community.  To learn more about project ideas and application information, go to the Toolbox for Education website.

Home Depot’s Community Impact grants focus on supporting and refurbishing existing structures. Click here to learn more about these grants. 


As Carol Dweck states in this Ed Week article, “Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset‘”, “…the path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.”

She is determined to clear up misconceptions about her work on mindsets, and in particular the widespread implementation of what she calls a “false growth mindset” in education.  In a follow-up interview in The Atlantic she provides recommendations for appropriately applying the concept of growth mindset in the classroom.

The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDE) has created a number of resources for educators on writing standards-based IEPs. This publication by Maria Holbrook lays out a seven step process for developing standards-based IEPs and is full of examples of standards-based IEP goals.


Designed to complement Jim Knight’s book High Impact Instruction, the High Impact Instructional Toolkit webpage has a wealth of tools to help teachers, coaches and administrators. There are simple checklists for things like creating guiding questions and developing checks for understanding. There are also video snippets from coaching sessions on topics like learning maps and assessing student engagement.




The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a good place to start for educators considering integrating social emotional learning (SEL) into their school-wide systems of support. In their free downloadable 2013 CASEL Guide, the collaborative provides a step-by-step guide for implementing SEL with reviews of the research and ratings for seven preschool and 19 school-age social-emotional programs.


On the video page, they provide a free library of videos with students, teachers, researchers and parents discussing social-emotional learning, including this one that gives an overview of the components of social-emotional learning and the research


The CDOS Resource Guide was developed by the New York State Education Department as a companion to the CDOS Learning Standards. This book is easy to use and includes dozens of lesson plans and activities for students of all ages. All lessons include objectives, materials needed, recommended timelines and assessments. Many of the lessons and activities were developed by teachers. The guide also features cross-reference grids allowing the reader to quickly see how lessons and activities may be used in a variety of classes including ELA, math and more.


The Colorin Colorado website has a great description of language objectives and some examples that show what a language objective might look like.


John Hollingsworth’s book, Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) for English Learners, is also a great resource and Hollingsworth’s website has videos of teachers using EDI and also summarizes the research backing it.


CareerZone is an innovative online career exploration and planning system. Youth in grades 6 -12 can start their career exploration journey by beginning with the Interest, Work Values and Skill assessment tools to explore potential careers. The CareerZone search capabilities provide opportunities for students to match their interests to careers available in various education levels.


Using the on-line, searchable version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook students can learn about different occupations and important information about each including median pay, entry-level educational requirements, on-the-job training options, number of new jobs projected in that field, and projected growth rate.


The comprehensive monograph on the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF) provides a framework for a cross-system problem-solving team, comprised of key stakeholders in education and mental health systems, youth and families, that works to ensure earlier access for children and youth to high quality care. It provides a blueprint for the teams to examine community and school level data and develop action plans to implement evidence-based practices that meet a community’s identified needs. The development of the ISF was supported by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Technical Assistance Center on PBIS, the IDEA Partnership, the National Community of Practice on Collaborative School Behavioral Systems and the University of Maryland Center for School Mental Health. It also reflects experiences of state and district school leaders from Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.


If you are intrigued by the Heath brother’s ideas about how to support meaningful change as outlined in their book Switch, visit their website download their “Switch for Organizations: The Workbook” and other change tools for free.


Interested in the concept of Shaping the Path and why it’s worth trying to start a small change by yourself or with a small group? Watch this video on “Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy”. It may inspire you!


For interested educators, there are many web-based tools demonstrating effective explicit vocabulary instruction strategies.  Here are just a few.

YouTube videos showing teachers using effective vocabulary strategies include the following:

  • Explicit Vocabulary Teaching Strategies April 30, 2012 , Dr. Mary-Beth Curtis


  • Vocabulary Instruction (19 videos) by Sangren Hall

In addition to the YouTube videos, check out the following free software:

Collins Cobuild Student’s Dictionary (Pocket PC)


In the November 16, 2016 NYSED memo entitled Changes in Allowable Testing Accommodations on the Grades 3-8 New York State English Language Arts Assessments, there is a “Testing Accommodation Decision-Making Tool for Tests-read”.

This simple tool contains nine questions that school personnel can use to “facilitate collaborative decision-making related to the recommendation of ‘tests-read’ (via human reader or technology) as a testing accommodation for students with disabilities in grades 3 through 8.”  The memo recommends that these questions be considered each time a student’s IEP or 504 Plan is reviewed to determine the appropriateness of this accommodation.



Start by engaging your entire school community in identifying your Why – what do you believe every student should be able to do to be successful.  Here is a possible tool:


Our students, families, community, and school believe that every student should _____________________ ___________________________in order to be successful in our school and community now and as adults.

In order to achieve our why, every students needs these critical skills:







If you want to learn more about a framework for improving students’ academic, cognitive and mental health outcomes, click on the “Learn More” link below to read Advancing Education Effectiveness: Interconnecting School Mental Health and School-wide Positive Behavior Support.  It outlines the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF), a structure for embedding evidence-based school mental health practices into a Multi-Tiered System of Support.  Read the overview on pp. 1-2 & Chapter 1, An Introduction to the Interconnected Systems Framework (pp. 3-17).

Appendix B of this document (pp. 134-135) provides a templated structure for answering four key questions that can help a community begin to align systems in order to improve student outcomes.
1.  Who cares about this issue and why?
2. What work is already underway separately?
3. What shared work could unite us?
4. How can we deepen our connections?


For more information on teaching students to set goals and self-monitor, click the “Learn More” link below to explore this self-guided learning module on Helping Students Become Independent Learners from the Iris Center at Vanderbilt Peabody College.


For over 2,000 specific lesson plans on teaching students of all ages to self-monitor, click on the link below to visit Lesson Planet.

Lesson Planet


Happy Birthday to the Blueprint for Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities!  This powerful document, which provides a map of how New York State can ensure that students with disabilities 1) benefit from high-quality instruction; 2) reach the same standards as all students; and 3) leave school prepared to successfully transition to post-school learning, living and working; was published by the New York State Office of Special Education just a year ago this month.  As we share it in our trainings and meetings, regional educators tell us they have used it to assess their own work and inspire staff.


Students can learn about workforce trends and job opportunities in ways that are both fun and interactive by visiting the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics website for Students.  The site is interactive and it also includes materials which can be easily printed for classroom use.  It is geared for grades four through 12 and it also includes resources for teachers.


The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) has developed the “Predictors of Post-School Success Self-Assessment Tool” that schools can use to monitor implementation of practices and programs that are likely to improve students’ post-school outcomes.


Two tools developed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED Career Development and Occupational Learning Standards and the CDOS Resource Guide with Core Curriculum) provide an outline of the CDOS Learning Standards with performance indicators, sample tasks, and lessons that are aligned with academic standards to provide opportunities for integrated learning.

Learning Standards  Resource Guide

Do you have comments/thoughts about the proposed amendments to Section 100.5 and 200.4 of the Commissioner’s Regulations to Require Superintendents to Make a Local Determination? Share them by 12/2/16 through email or regular mail to Angelica Infante, New York State Education Department, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234.


The Superintendent Determination of Graduation Form for a local diploma is used to document the superintendent’s determination and, once complete, a copy is given to the parent, student, and NYSED.  A copy is also maintained in the student’s record.


The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education: Part 200 has been updated to reflect the new transition services requirements.  The Transition Services section of this regulation begins on page 49.  Click here to view the latest version of the regulations.


The Stoneleigh Foundation works to improve the outcomes for “young people impacted by violence as well as those in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems – or at risk of involvement in those systems”.  They have compiled a wealth of resources for districts interested in learning more about or beginning to implement a youth court program.

Click below for links to training materials (including videos, for teachers, law professionals, students, and community members on the essential skills for running a youth court), a Youth Court Coordinator’s Manual, and lesson plans.

Training Materials  Coordinator’s Manual Lesson Plans

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