Net Exchange Response

Title: We’ve been working toward transforming student and learning supports: How are others summarizing progress?

Date Posted: 6/1/2015

Question: We’ve been working toward transforming student and learning supports: How are others summarizing progress?

Response: As the school year ends, it is time to show what has been accomplished with respect to moving toward a unified and comprehensive system of student and learning supports. Unlike old reports that cited only the number of students seen by student support staff, summarizing system developments designed to enhance equity of opportunity for the success of all students also becomes a major focus. As noted in Step 8 above, this is a formative evaluation process. It includes details about what has been accomplished to date related to all 8 steps. Special attention is given to the Five Essential Elements of a Unified and Comprehensive System of Learning Supports

Another example comes from a 2007 evaluation by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) summarizing early work in Iowa. Descriptive and formative evaluative data were gathered related to Iowa's first steps in implementing its initiative for guiding schools in developing a comprehensive system of learning supports. The following are excerpts from the Executive Summary –

"Evaluation of the Learning Supports initiative indicated that having clear guidance and supportfrom the state, a strong local leader, and adequate funding were associated with better implementation of Learning Supports. Teams were working together much more effectively in the second year of the initiative. Districts doing a better job implementing Learning Supports had higher reading and math achievement than districts with poor implementation. We would expect that [in a third year] these gains would have been even greater."
       "Data analysis showed that although achievement levels for field test districts were below the state mean, the percent proficient for reading and math at grades 4, 8, and 11 were consistently higher for the medium and high implementation groups than for the low group."
       "Eight of the ten pilot sites reported improved student behavior and expected this improvement to serve as groundwork for future academic success."
       "Community outreach. Most of the teams attempted to connect with the surrounding community and involve them in promoting the goals of the Learning Supports initiative. Community involvement included outreach to local organizations like the YMCA, agencies that provide mental health and substance abuse services, community businesses, churches, neighborhood centers, parks and recreation offices, parent-teacher organizations, and volunteer groups. Iowa City has also used technology to increase their outreach to parents by creating an automated telephone tree that dials out to parents and a real-time student information website.”
       “Internal/external champions. Most of the Learning Supports teams considered their team members to be internal champions, and particular members played important roles as volunteer coordinators, at-risk youth coordinators, team leaders, managers of specific initiatives, and liaisons to other community organizations. These members helped to connect the Learning Supports initiative to the community. For those teams that reached out to the community and created partnerships, their external champions ranged from parent-teacher organizations and the school board to local business leaders and service agencies.”
       “Changes in the environment and new opportunities/challenges. Learning Supports team members were also a part of the communities in which they worked, so they were often involved in different organizations from which they could draw information, trends, new ideas, and feedback to support initiatives develop and support their plans. In several field test sites, the AEA staff provided surveys, staff training and resources, and other types of support to collect, analyze and report data. The stronger these ties were among the team and with the community, the greater their ability to respond to opportunities and challenges. In addition, district-based teams that were made up of a wide variety of team members had a broader view of community needs."

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UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools
Dept. of Psychology, P.O.Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
tel: (310)825-3634
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