About New Directions for Student and Learning Supports
The challenge is to move forward in developing a unified and comprehensive system of student and learning supports as a primary and essential component of school improvement for addressing barriers to learning and teaching and re-engaging disconnected students.
The emphasis is on
Fortunately, enough work has been done in recent years to provide specific prototypes and guidance for districts and schools. For example, our Center's research and development clarifies that an enabling/learning supports component encompasses a full continuum of interventions and covers a well-defined and delimited set of classroom and schoolwide supports. All this is operationalized as a system.
- rethinking and coalescing existing student and learning support programs, services and personnel in order to develop a unified and comprehensive system
- reworking operational infrastructure to weave together different funding streams, reduce redundancy, and redeploy available resources at school and from the community.
Developing the system entails
Starting points include ensuring the work is fully integrated into school improvement policy and practice, reworking operational infrastructure, setting priorities for system development, and (re)deploying whatever resources are available in keeping with priorities. More specifically, the transformation:
- unifying all direct efforts to address factors interfering with learning and teaching at a schoolconnecting families of schools (such as feeder patterns) with each other and with a wider range of community resources
- weaving together school, home, and community resources in ways that enhance effectiveness and achieve economies of scale.
As Congress considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), it is time and it is essential to include a unifying and comprehensive focus on addressing barriers to learning and re-engaging disconnected students.
- Reframes current student support programs and services and redeploys the resources to develop a comprehensive, multifaceted, and cohesive system for enabling learning
- Develops both in-classroom and schoolwide approaches that enhance individual student interventions - including interventions to support transitions, increase home and community connections, enhance teachers' ability to respond to common learning and behavior problems, and respond to and prevent crises
- Realigns district, school, and school-community infrastructures to weave resources together in order to enhance and evolve the learning supports system
- Pursues school improvement and systemic change with a high degree of policy commitment to fully integrate supports for learning and teaching with efforts to improve instruction and school management/governance
- Expands accountability systems both to improve data-based decision-making and reflect a comprehensive picture of students' and schools' performance that incorporates efforts to address barriers to learning and teaching.
At the state and regional levels, it is time and it is essential for education agencies to reorganize student and learning supports into a cohesive unit and provide guidance and capacity building support for districts to build a comprehensive, multifaceted, and integrated system of learning supports.
At the district and school level, it is time and it is essential to go beyond thinking in terms of providing traditional services, linking with and collocating agency resources, and enhancing coordination. These all have a place, but they do not address how to unify and reconceive ways to better meet the needs of the many, rather than just providing traditional services to a relatively few students.
It is time and it is essential to fundamentally rethink student and learning supports.
The Center at UCLA works with states and districts across the country to mentor and coach strategic efforts to plan, implement, and sustain the prototype frameworks developed by the Center. This mentoring and coaching includes the opportunity for regular exchanges and technical assistance over several years. The Center also continuously updates online resource aids to support ongoing work. No fees are attached to the using the Center since most of its coaching and technical assistance can be done via email and phone conferencing and all its resources are available for free access online.