Focusing on the Needs of Multilingual Learners
The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is focusing on the needs of multilingual learners (MLs) within schools and districts that qualify for one of two levels of extra assistance, known as targeted support and improvement (TSI) and additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI). The NDE identified 100 TSI and ATSI schools to receive assistance based on ML student performance from 2019.
The NDE’s approach to school improvement is aligned to the department’s 2017–2026 Strategic Vision and Direction, and the Nebraska multi-tiered systems of support (NeMTSS) to ensure equitable opportunities for learning. The department identified these TSI and ATSI schools based on achievement gaps involving identified student groups, generating optimism that if the students have particular challenges in common, then those challenges can be met with evidence-based solutions that can be piloted and then scaled up.
The Region 11 Comprehensive Center is partnering with the NDE’s Office of Coordinated School and District Support to increase the project team’s knowledge of the targeted school and district needs related to equitable evidence-based practice implementation.
The first few years of the project focused on statewide and localized efforts. After the implementation of a statewide virtual Learning Communities series titled “An Equity-Focused Approach to TSI and ATSI School Improvement,” two districts and two schools shared a desire to better support their MLs by deepening their understanding of the concepts discussed during the series. The NDE, R11CC, Education Service Unit 3, the districts, and schools forged a partnership with an initial focus on understanding and examining the data available to schools.
Entering the project’s fourth year, the partners continue to work to increase the capacity of educators and staff at two pilot schools to make better data-informed decisions about instruction and school improvement, particularly with respect to MLs. In the summer of 2022, the partners developed an agreed-upon purpose, defined clear roles and responsibilities that bring to bear the strengths of each organization, and made plans for frequent communication. This work enables the partners to better understand each school’s context and build relationships among one another. The partners now are helping each pilot school compile, organize, and review available demographic, perception, and student learning data, in addition to identify additional data needed to inform decision making and select an evidence-based strategy to address the needs of MLs. The spring of 2023 will be spent building all staff capacity to implement the strategy in the fall of 2023.
Long-term outcomes associated with this project include meeting growth and improvement targets for identified student groups and exiting from TSI and ATSI status.
Supporting Standards Revisions Processes in Nebraska
The R11CC is partnering with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to support the NDE with an external review of the department’s content area standards revision process. The NDE and the Nebraska State Board of Education determined that to better serve stakeholders across the state, an evaluation of their standards revision process was needed before the next round of standards revisions, currently scheduled for fall 2023.
The R11CC, in partnership with AIR, will conduct a landscape review, including similar states and research findings, and work to identify key elements of comprehensive standards review processes. This work will guide a review of standards revision processes, collection of input from diverse stakeholders, and the development of guidance and recommendations.
The completed work will allow the NDE to have a transparent, evidence-based process for future content standards revisions.
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