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Reading Drives Achievement: Success through Literacy Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Results Driven Accountability?
  2. What does Results Driven Accountability: Success through Literacy mean in Wisconsin?
  3. Why reading?
  4. What is DPI planning to do to improve outcomes for students with disabilities?
  5. How is DPI implementing RDA?
  6. How will DPI measure RDA?
  7. What is the timeline for RDA:StL?
  8. How does RDA:StL connect to all the other initiatives (e.g., Promoting Excellence for All (PEFA), Educator Effectiveness (EE), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), RtI, Academic Career Planning (ACP), College and Career Ready IEPs (CCR IEPs), disproportionality?
  9. How will this affect educators in Wisconsin Public Schools?
  10. How do general educators fit into RDA:StL when the focus is on improving outcomes for students with disabilities?
  11. How does student functional performance (i.e., mental health, communication, behavior, social and emotional) skills fit into RDA:StL?
  12. How do you expect a student with a disability to meet grade level benchmark/standards?
  13. How do students with more significant intellectual disabilities fit into the RDA:StL system?

 

1. What is Results Driven Accountability?

Results Driven Accountability (RDA) is the recently revised accountability system from the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, on June 24, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education, announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs. The revision shifts the accountability balance from a primary focus on compliance to one that puts an increased emphasis on results. The previous system of compliance only was not sufficient in increasing student academic outcomes, therefore, the new accountability systems will include a balanced approach of compliance and results. RDA is a system of accountability and supports to school districts to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

2. What does Results Driven Accountability: Success through Literacy mean in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin’s approach, based on stakeholder involvement, focuses on improving reading outcomes for students with disabilities and is called RDA- Reading Drives Achievement: Success through Literacy (RDA: StL). The revision shifts the accountability balance from a primary focus on compliance to a balanced compliance and results approach. Reading Drives Achievement: Success through Literacy is a system of accountability and supports to school districts to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

3. Why reading?

Data show persistent academic gaps, particularly in the area of reading, for students with disabilities when compared to their peers without disabilities. If students with disabilities are proficient in reading, they will be more likely to graduate from high school, be college and career ready and have improved post-high school outcomes. There is strong evidence to show students need a high level of literacy whether they are continuing onto college or entering the 21st century workforce. Thus, in order for students with disabilities to achieve independence and family-sustaining employment, they must leave our schools as proficient in literacy. While we measure our progress toward this goal as reading achievement, it is critical that students are proficient in all areas of literacy, including speaking, listening and writing.

4. What is DPI planning to do to improve outcomes for students with disabilities?

DPI has outlined a Statewide Systemic Improvement Plan which targets four specific improvement areas:

  1. Coordinated Improvement Planning with Title I: In order to streamline requirements, align our work and supports, the Title 1 and Special Education Teams are collaborating to develop a comprehensive school improvement planning process that is rooted in implementation science and helps to eliminate the “silo” effect of improvement planning for multiple requirements. This process is intended to assist districts in meeting federal and state requirements while also maximizing their efficiency and efficacy in implementing evidence based practices that improve outcomes for students.
  2. Professional Learning Resources: DPI is aligning current investments in professional learning resources with our action planning for RDA. These innovations are intended to assist districts in systemic improvement as well as meeting the requirements under RDA. These include: 
    1. Co-teaching
    2. Universal Design for Learning
    3. College/Career Ready IEPs
    4. Literacy
      1. English Language Arts
      2. Disciplinary Literacy
    5. Promising Practices for Students with Disabilities (Coming soon)
    6. Mental Health Framework / Trauma Sensitive Schools Modules
    7. Guidance for students within a Multi-Level System of Supports (MLSS)
    8. Functional Behavior Assessment/Behavior Intervention Plan Toolkit
    9. Guidance for Selecting Interventions
  3. Coaching:  Any effective and sustainable school improvement effort must include a coaching element. DPI is intentionally embedding coaching at all levels of our RDA and improvement efforts and will focus on two strands: systems coaching as a way to assist districts in navigating the improvement and implementation processes and content (instructional) coaching to provide expertise and support problem solving related to the implementation of instructional innovations. To accomplish this, DPI is leveraging and scaling up a number of existing coaching resources.
  4. Connecting Compliance with Results:  Connecting Compliance with Results: The Department of Public Instruction through a stakeholder process has aligned the Procedural Compliance Self-Assessment (PCSA) to focus on requirements with the greatest impact on improving outcomes for students with disabilities. In addition, new prompts on the sample IEP forms will encourage IEP teams to consider if a student has disability-related needs that affect reading and to develop goals, services and progress monitoring to address the needs and improve student outcomes while maintaining compliance with federal law. These new sample forms, along with best practice guidance, are part of a broader focus on College and Career Ready IEPs: Improving Outcomes for Students Ages 3-21.

5. How is DPI implementing Results Driven Accountability?

Using Implementation Science as the foundation (i.e., the “how”) for our improvement efforts the Department is partnering with the State Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence Based Practices (SISEP) Center. Rigorous research across disciplines and fields (healthcare, business, education) has produced the five active implementation frameworks any system must attend to if it will implement an innovation effectively and sustainably. The frameworks are “innovation neutral” in that they are applicable to any innovation an organization decides to implement and, thus, are adaptable to the wide variety of contexts and local settings that make up Wisconsin’s school districts. For more information on the active implementation frameworks see http://implementation.fpg.unc.edu/.

6. How will DPI measure Results Driven Accountability?

Ultimately, our goal is to improve outcomes for students with disabilities and close achievement, opportunity and equity gaps. As such, we have identified Wisconsin’s Statewide Identified Measurable Result (SIMR) as being a three-year analysis of student growth in literacy as measured on statewide assessments in grades 3-8. As an additional layer of our evaluation plan, we will also focus on changes in adult behavior as a way to measure the effectiveness of statewide supports in improving practice.

7. What is the timeline for RDA:StL?

Below is an overview of the projected implementation timeline which is scheduled to be in full operation by fall 2017.

  2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Procedural Compliance Self-Assessment 4th Year of 2nd Cycle

5th Year of 2nd Cycle

Pilot RDA PCSA

Technical Assistance & Pilot

RDA PCSA

Indicators 8, 11, 14

1st Year of RDA PCSA
LEA Determination Compliance Only w/ Forecast

Compliance greater than results

Invitation for technical assistance

Compliance greater than results

First year of identifying needs assistance

Equal balance compliance results

Second year of identifying needs assistance

LEA Supports Plan for Supports and Technical Assistance Develop Supports and Technical Assistance Provide Supports and Technical Assistance - Pilot Provide Supports and Technical Assistance

8. How does RDA:StL connect to all the other initiatives (e.g., Promoting Excellence for All (PEFA), Educator Effectiveness (EE), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), RtI, Academic Career Planning (ACP), College and Career Ready IEPs (CCR IEPs), disproportionality?

Central to our work at the state level is a commitment to aligning requirements and supports in order that districts are able to engage in improvement work in a systemic way. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction knows that silos of initiatives will not support the systemic improvement efforts underway in districts in order to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. As we deepen our work with the State Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence Based Practices Center (SISEP) around implementation science, we are carefully identifying ways to “scale up” evidence based statewide supports and align those with RDA requirements in order to support districts’ efforts. As such, the intent of PEFA, EE, PBIS, RtI, D-TAN, etc. is to provide systemic improvement resources to districts in order to maximize the efficiency of improvement efforts, meet the requirements of RDA and, most importantly, improve outcomes for students through efforts grounded in equity. Put another way, all of these are tools districts may access to support systemic improvement aimed at improving outcomes for students.

9. How will this affect educators in Wisconsin Public Schools?

To educators wondering what this means for them, the DPI recommends: (1) identifying best (evidence based) practices and (2) applying implementation science frameworks to intentionally plan for change, scale up what works and evaluate impact. This could include: 

  • Universal Design for Learning,
  • strong literacy instruction with embedded coaching to support effective instructional practices;
  • culturally responsive curriculum and instructional practices;
  • meaningful access to grade-level, standards-based education in the general education setting;
  • strategies for family engagement;
  • collaboration between special and general educators such that systems flexibly adapt to meet the needs of students ; and
  • multi-level systems of supports (Response to Intervention; Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports).

Schools will have opportunities to seek support from DPI in reaching RDA goals. More information will be added to the DPI’s special education website as it becomes available.

https://dpi.wi.gov/news/dpi-connected/rda-explained

10. How do general educators fit into RDA:StL when the focus is on improving outcomes for students with disabilities?

General educators are often the leaders and experts when it comes to general education curricular content. Special educators provide the supports and services necessary for students with IEPs to access the general education curriculum. Therefore, it is essential that general educators and special educators collaborate to co-plan and co-serve students with disabilities to ensure that students have access to the general education curriculum.

The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education in 2002 emphasized:

  1. the need to view students with disabilities as general education students first, and
  2. the need to embrace a model of prevention rather than failure.

While a referral for a suspected disability can happen at any time, a large number of students identified as having an educational disability are identified during their school years, often in elementary and to a lesser extent middle school. Often by the time they’re referred, they’ve already spent several years immersed in the general education academic instructional program, intended to prepare them for college and career. The quality of the academic educational experiences they have access to in the general education environment prior to being referred for a suspected disability and after being identified as having a disability have a tremendous impact on their success.

It is important to remember that student learning and progress on the general education grade level standards are the purposes of providing specially designed instruction to students with disabilities. Most students with disabilities are served within general education settings most of the time and are assessed in relation to general education standards. As the experts on grade level standards, general educators play a key role in ensuring the success of students with disabilities.

A small percentage of students with significant intellectual disabilities receive specially designed instruction to help them learn and progress on alternate achievement standards, which are also closely aligned to the general education standards.

11. How does student functional performance (i.e., mental health, communication, behavior, social and emotional) skills fit into RDA:StL?

RDA: StL fits into the Department’s vision of Agenda 2017: Every Child a Graduate, College and Career Ready. All students in Wisconsin graduate from high school in Wisconsin academically prepared and socially and emotionally competent by possessing and demonstrating:

Knowledge: Proficiency in academic content

Skills: Behaviors such as perseverance, responsibility, adaptability, and leadership

Habits: Application of knowledge through skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

These proficiencies and attributes come from rigorous, rich, and well-rounded public school experiences. There are important connections between grade level academic standards and functional expectations. Functional proficiencies and attributes include social, emotional, physical, or cognitive skills and competencies required for a student to be able to achieve grade-level expectations. Examples of functional skills/competencies include: organization, social communication, working independently, self-regulation, self-advocacy, self-efficacy, fine or gross motor, and life skills.

IEP teams should discuss how gaps in functional skills impact each student’s ability to access and achieve grade-level academic expectations. Identifying these gaps and providing appropriate instruction and supports fosters improved student outcomes.

Functional performance skills are an integral part of Agenda 2017. Without addressing the social and emotional needs of students with disabilities, success will be limited.

12. How do you expect a student with a disability to meet grade level benchmark/standards?

Research demonstrates that students with disabilities can successfully learn grade-level content and make significant academic progress when appropriate instruction, services, and supports are provided.

Low expectations for students with disabilities can result in those students receiving less challenging instruction that reflects content that is below grade-level standards. Students cannot successfully learn grade level content if they do not have access and involvement in high quality instruction based on grade-level standards.

In a November 2015 “Dear Colleague” letter, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services clarified that student IEP’s must be aligned with the academic content standards for the grade in which the student in enrolled.

 

13. How do students with more significant intellectual disabilities fit into the RDA:StL system?

RDA:StL is inclusive of ALL students, which means that students with significant intellectual disabilities must be held to the same high expectations as their peers. Students with IEPs require unique services and supports matched to their strengths and needs to facilitate access to and achievement in curriculum based on grade level standards. The United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services addressed this exact question in its November 2015 Colleague Letter. It stated:

In a situation where a child is performing significantly below the level of the grade in which the child is enrolled, the IEP team should determine annual goals that are ambitious but achievable. In other words, the annual goals, need not necessarily result in the child’s reaching grade-level within the year covered by the IEP, but the goals should be sufficiently ambitious to help close the gap.

When planning curricula and programming for students with signification intellectual disabilities, educators can utilize Alternate Achievement Standards: Essential Elements. This alternate set of standards are based on and aligned with the general academic achievement standards.

For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781