NERRC's earliest assistance to the Special Education Unit consisted of providing an "Outcomes-Based Accountability Desk Reference." The Reference is an array of materials that Special Education Unit personnel could use to keep abreast of the latest practices and attitudes regarding large-scale assessments. NERRC also began discussions with Special Education Unit representatives regarding both assessment system characteristics and potential ways that Unit representatives might be able to participate in assessment planning and development.
The SEA developed a draft of a Rhode Island Statewide Assessment Program (RISAP). Eventually, the Special Education Unit was able to position itself to take initiative within the SEA and arrange the first-ever collaborative meeting with colleagues from Special Services (Special Education), Curriculum (General Education), and Outcomes and Accountability (General Education) in June 1994. NERRC's role at this meeting was to help develop an agenda, provide information about assessment philosophies, frameworks, and development modes, and facilitate the discussion. The goals for the meeting were to develop common language concerning assessment and accountability; to review the progress made to date; to begin to form a shared vision of the Rhode Island Student Learning Goals and the statewide assessment system; and to define and clarify the roles and responsibilities of special and general education personnel in a potential collaborative effort.
In the weeks after the meeting, the Special Education Unit quietly promoted collaboration between general and special education personnel concerning the revision of the statewide assessment system. Basic philosophies became more apparent, and conversations began to be based on new assumptions about accountability and responsibility for all students. Eventually NERRC convened a working conference, at which external consultants worked directly with SEA personnel to design their statewide assessment system revision proposal. The working conference became a collaborative effort involving SEA representatives from several divisions, the consultant team, and NERRC.
After this conference, the SEA further revised RISAP, drafted policies and guidelines, and developed a field test of the new assessment system for fourth graders in health and mathematics. The SEA piloted the field test in the spring of 1995 embracing a "no exemptions" approach: all children are expected to participate in the assessments in one manner or another. A letter from the director of the Rhode Island SEA Office of Outcomes and Assessment states that NERRC "helped us to think about it more systemically,"..."challenged our commitment to the `all kids' agenda,...and put us in contact with other States who...are also struggling mightily with this issue." The letter further states that the SEA "returned to the drawing board, did some research and...opened up the policy to apply to any child who will perform better with an accommodation of some kind" and that the "inclusive and performance-based approach of the field test have already begun to influence planning at the district level."
After the work group meeting, MSRRC developed a position paper for the use of the multistate work group of comprehensive system of personnel development (CPSD) coordinators and other SEA contacts. The paper contained information concerning the existing needs, rationale, and support for developing a regional approach to low incidence distance training. The paper was intended to communicate the regional need and to create awareness of and commitment to pursuing a regional approach. The paper was disseminated within the nine States to SEAs, LEAs, State school and institution of higher education (IHE) staff.
The paper reached the superintendent of the Governor Morehead School in North Carolina (which is that State's school for students with visual impairments). The superintendent, a long-time supporter of regional approaches to personnel training, promptly provided the paper to several State legislators. In July 1995 the North Carolina legislature passed legislation containing language from the original position paper, directing the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina to establish an interstate consortium to develop and implement a regional visually impaired distance training program that will offer a master's degree, as well as add-on certification.
With this support, the MSRRC regional work group received the impetus necessary to move forward. CSPD coordinators formed in-State stakeholder teams and are exploring recommendations and concerns regarding training program content, delivery, licensure, and certification. The formation of in-State teams has resulted in new relationships within States. These relationships, formed among State school for the blind superintendents, State certification office staff, State visually impaired content staff, Part B CSPD coordinators, higher education teacher training faculty, distance education experts, and others have resulted in ongoing communication about unique needs that can be addressed through shared commitment. The MSRRC has served and continues to fulfill a unique role as facilitator for the Region 2 States' work group, individual State teams, and the North Carolina program developers.
The long-term result of this activity will be the creation of a regional training program, developed and managed by a consortia of IHE teacher training programs, SEAs, State offices of certification, and State schools for the blind. The effort will produce personnel with credentials that are valid in each of the participating States. Currently, it is estimated that a shortage of 92 teachers of the visually impaired exists in Region 2 States. This shortage is expected to decrease as the interstate distance training program is implemented, thus improving the availability and quality of instruction to students with visual impairments. As far as the MSRRC staff has been able to determine, this is the only interstate low incidence distance training program currently in development in the United States.
The incorporation of community partnerships concepts has resulted in a New Mexico State Department of Education accreditation procedure for local school district improvement, and in school districts involving the local community as they develop long range action plans for student success. The SEA accreditation team is composed of State personnel from various divisions including instruction, vocational education, Federal programs, special education, and accreditation, as well as of representatives of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented. While accreditation evaluates compliance with State and Federal laws and regulations, the accreditation focus is now on technical assistance rather than on regulation. As part of the accreditation process, each district involves the community to develop a long-range action plan for the success of all students. The New Mexico Connection has fostered systems change and has resulted in family-school-community partnerships, which are essential to effective schools and to challenging all students to reach their potential.
The participants in the initial State-level planning process represented families and service providers from throughout the State, as well as the cultural and linguistic diversity of New Mexico. Replication of this model for representative planning and decision making is now underway at the local and community level.
The Great Lakes Area Regional Resource Center (GLARRC) has been closely involved in the design, interagency collaboration, stakeholder involvement, implementation, evaluation, and continual renewal of FFEIS since its inception. In 1991, GLARRC provided consultation and facilitation services to the key representatives of the Departments of Education, Health, and Public Welfare who were involved in the original planning of FFEIS. In early 1992, GLARRC invited FFEIS leaders to Ohio State University to examine the Early Intervention Training Project, an EEPCD project that served as a model for the design of FFEIS. GLARRC designed a needs assessment module for the Pennsylvania system and recommended consultants to develop other training modules. GLARRC encouraged the project director to appoint an evaluation coordinator to whom GLARRC has provided ongoing consultation in the design of an evaluation system and instruments. During 1993-94, GLARRC helped FFEIS develop its services in relation to the State and local Interagency Coordinating Councils (ICCs). Technical assistance included consultation, information dissemination, and facilitation of a local ICC conference. The conference included a goal-setting session for representatives from local ICCs that focused on ways to improve functioning of the local councils. At the beginning of the 1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years, GLARRC facilitated refocusing sessions in which stakeholders (i.e., family members; local, intermediate and State education and welfare members; State and local ICC members; and others) validated their mission and guiding principles and developed action plans to direct FFEIS activities. Also, GLARRC provided facilitation services on a regular basis as FFEIS interacted with the Statewide Support Initiative of Pennsylvania, the broader technical assistance system of the Department of Education. GLARRC also provided facilitation services to the Cross Department Training Committee, which was overseeing the adoption of the FFEIS model by six agencies across the State to assure family centeredness, inclusion, and best practices in early intervention are standards for early intervention in Pennsylvania. It is through this type of ongoing and intensive involvement with a system that the GLARRC positively affects systems change.
Results have been reported in Pennsylvania for the following three legislative findings for early intervention in Act 212. Highlighting the relationship of FFEIS to these successes, a recent evaluation of all parent participants, all past and current local ICC chairpersons, and a random sample of professional participants (4,086 surveys mailed with a return rate of 51 percent) revealed that FFEIS:
Act 212 also provides for the establishment and maintenance of local ICCs. One of the primary goals of FFEIS is to assist in the formation of the local ICCs and in the coordination of local training efforts through the local ICCs. Results of the evaluation survey concerning the effectiveness of FFEIS activities in assisting local ICCs are described below.
Since 1992, the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC) has provided technical assistance regarding Section 504 to the following:
Guidelines regarding the similarities and differences between Section 504 and IDEA were developed for each of these States and the BIA. More than 30 comprehensive workshops were conducted to educate school personnel and parent groups about Section 504 and IDEA.
Recent WRRC activities to enhance the capacity of States and territories to serve children and youth with disabilities (changes in policies, programs or personnel) are described below.
Changes in Leadership Skills
Activities: In the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and American Samoa, WRRC has worked toward increasing the capacity of consulting staff to work with teachers. WRRC staff worked with SEA specialists to plan and deliver training, taking care to model good training techniques while focusing on content. WRRC support enabled cadres of district administrators and specialists from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to observe programs and consult with staff in selected Hawaii schools. Increased responsibility and autonomy has been given to SEA staff, resulting in an expansion in a repertoire of skills and abilities and a reduction in the need for outside experts.
Outcomes: Because of increased local ongoing support to teachers, the school staff has increased capacity to meet a broader array of learning needs in the regular classroom.
In American Samoa, demonstration programs in model classrooms and buildings have encouraged other programs to increase access and modify classroom practices.
In the Republic of Palau the consulting teachers have gradually assumed more responsibility for designing and conducting inservice training for both general and special education personnel.
In the RMI, several local building programs have been redesigned so both general and special educators successfully support students with diverse learning needs in the regular classroom. The staff from these schools serve as a resource network for other schools adopting similar inclusion practices.
Changes in Staff Skills Directly Affecting Students
Activity: Two teachers from American Samoa, six from the FSM and Micronesia, and one from the Republic of Palau were supported by their home jurisdiction to travel to Oregon or Arizona for 3 to 4 months to learn teaching and training in an immersion setting. The teachers learned Braille, sign language, curriculum modification, assistive technology, and participated in academic, home, and job skill training.
Activities: A team of regular and special educators was designated for training by each of the governments of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and the Republic of Palau. A consultant worked with these teams, training them in "Skills for School Success," a commercial program intended to ensure the successful inclusion of students with disabilities at the high school level. Initial training focused on the training process itself, using a single module. Subsequent training expanded the teams' skill base through additional modules.
Outcomes: In Palau, the "Skills for School Success" program was expanded to include the entire high school. Demonstration of the program skills at private and public elementary schools has led to requests from these schools for local training. Follow-up training is anticipated in summer 1996.
In Guam, several schools have adopted the "Skills for School Success" program schoolwide. Follow-up training is planned for summer 1996.
In the CNMI, the teams have adopted building strategies for student success, one of which is a component on student organizational and study skills that was developed collaboratively.
Changes in State Policies/Procedures
Activities: In the CNMI, an extensive needs assessment and status review of staff capacity yielded a report with a series of recommendations for the CNMI Board. The report identified the circumstances for staff hiring and retention that are unique to the CNMI, and included recommendations designed to reduce the effort and cost of depending heavily on off-island recruits while systematically increasing the capacity of local personnel and maintaining current staff levels.
Outcomes: The CNMI Board used the study recommendations and additional information on current practices in other jurisdictions and States to locally determine and establish:
Outcomes: An indication of the importance, ownership, and impact of this annual activity is the increasing leadership of the jurisdictions accompanied by a commensurate reduction in the direct involvement of technical assistance agency staffs. This year all planning, development, and a major portion of the conference expenses are being assumed by the Pacific jurisdictions.
States Served ======================================================================= Region 1: H028A30002 --------------------- Edith Beatty Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Northeast RRC (NERRC) New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Trinity College Rhode Island, Vermont Colchester Avenue Burlington, VT 05401 Telephone: (802) 658-5036 FAX: (802) 658-7435 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Region 2: H028A30008 --------------------- Kenneth Olsen, Director Delaware, District of Columbia, Midsouth RRC (MSRRC) Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, University of Kentucky South Carolina, Tennessee, 126 Mineral Industries Building Virginia, West Virginia Lexington, KY 40506-0051 Telephone: (606) 257-4921 FAX: (606) 258-1901 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Region 3: H028A30005 --------------------- Timothy Kelly, Director Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, South Atlantic RRC (SARRC) Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida Atlantic University New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, 1236 North University Drive Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands Plantation, FL 33322 Telephone: (305) 473-6106-6611 FAX: (305) 424-4309 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Region 4: H028A30004 --------------------- Larry Magliocca, Director Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Great Lakes Area RRC (GLARRC) Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, The Ohio State University Wisconsin 700 Ackerman Road, Suite 440 Columbus, OH 43202 Telephone: (614) 447-0844 FAX: (614) 447-9043 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Region 5: H028A30009 --------------------- John Copenhaven, Director Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Mountain Plains RRC (MPRRC) Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah State University South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Bureau 1780 North Research Parkway of Indian Affairs Suite 112 Logan, UT 84321 Telephone: (801) 752-0238 FAX: (801) 753-9750 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Region 6: H028A30003 --------------------- Richard Zeller, Director Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Western RRC (WRRC) Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, University of Oregon American Samoa, Guam, the College of Education Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Eugene, OR 97403 Islands, the Federated States of Telephone: (503) 346-5641 Micronesia, the Republic of the FAX: (503) 346-5639 Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Federal Resource Center: HS93033001 ------------------------------------ Carl Valdivieso, Director Federal Resource Center Academy for Educational Development 1975 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 800 Washington, D.C. 20009-1202 Telephone: (202) 884-8204 FAX: (202) 884-8443