This is part of an ongoing series on the TASH blog to keep you updated on TASH’s role in the SWIFT Center (School Wide Integrated Framework for Transformation). The SWIFT Center is a national technical assistance center funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to implement a model for educating general and special education students together to improve schoolwide academic outcomes. The following update is provided by TASH Education Policy Director Jenny Stonemeier.
SWIFT—School Wide Integration Framework for Transformation is a newly funded National Technical Assistance center housed at the University of Kansas. The SWIFT Center—the largest OSEP grant ever funded—is dedicated to providing high quality technical assistance to schools, districts, and state departments of education as they build school-wide practices that improve academic and behavioral outcomes for ALL children. Based on a foundation of research, the SWIFT team will partner with educators to build policies, procedures, and practices that will result in sustainable systems change. The SWIFT technical assistance system engages the whole school community in ways designed to positively transform learning outcomes for all students. It combines the strengths of general and specialized educators by supporting them in working collaboratively when teaching the grade level curriculum.
In a manner consistent with the core values of TASH—equity, opportunity and inclusion—the work of the SWIFT Center is rooted in equity for all students in all educational settings. Within models of education and education reform, equity is reliant upon access; to services, curriculum, opportunity, and quality. Equity cannot exist without access. It is from this foundation that the SWIFT Center draws upon its whole school approach to transformation. Improving academic and behavioral outcomes for all students requires a school wide strategy; involving all members of that community, educators, administrators, service providers, support staff, families, communities. Therefore, the SWIFT Center harnesses general education systems as the driver of meaningful and lasting reform. TASH will promote the value of education as a civil right by engaging with school, district, and state leaders to operationalize the original intent of prevailing policies. Sustainable changes to practice must be supported by policy.
School wide reform is just that, school wide. It involves every aspect of service delivery, planning, professional development, curriculum design, instructional practices, policy development, procedural implementation, stakeholder engagement, etc. Understanding that this is a whole school model, the SWIFT Center has staffed 8 teams of experts to provide intensive, subject-specific, technical assistance for schools. The teams content areas include:
1. Inclusive Education Implementation
2. UDL-Curriculum/Instruction Enhancements
3. MTSS/RTI Implementations
4. Family/Community Engagement
5. Policy Alignment and Stakeholder Engagement
6. Capacity Building/Sustainability/Scale Up
7. Formative Evaluation and Data Management
8. Communication and Knowledge Dissemination
TASH’s serves as Team Leader for the Policy Alignment and Stakeholder Engagement Team. In this capacity, we will work with the Institute for Educational Leadership to help schools, districts, and states align their policies to support inclusive education. We will work to support schools, districts, and states assess the existing policies and provide analysis to identify bridges and barriers to implementing SWIFT principles. TASH brings years of policy experience to the implementation of the SWIFT model of whole-school transformation.
Through a rigorous model of evidence based practices, the SWIFT Center will partner with 4 State Education Agencies, 4 Local Education Agencies within each State, and 4 schools within each Local Education Agency. These 4 states, 16 districts, and 64 schools will engage in a powerful practice of continuous improvement-focused monitoring as they implement the SWIFT framework. Experts from each of the 8 teams will provide targeted technical assistance and support to the states, districts, and schools in order to assure capacity building that results in sustainability.
The Policy Alignment and Stakeholder Engagement (PASE) Team—lead by TASH and the Institute for Educational Leadership—will work in a coordinated manner with the full SWIFT team to provide intensive support to SWIFT schools. Through our model of analysis, the PASE Team will provide technical assistance to insure that schools, districts, and states have the policies and practices in place to support permanent and sustainable implementation of the SWIFT framework.
Successful SWIFT implementation will require full and formal investment in the framework over a 3-5 year period. With commitment, fidelity of implementation, and sustained priority to the work, schools can expect the following outcomes.
1. 20-60% decrease in student problem behavior
2. significant increases in academic performance on standardized assessments
3. high rates of family engagement and satisfaction
4. closing of achievement gaps between sub-groups, particularly students with disabilities
5. increased staff efficacy
6. increased effective engagement with community stakeholders
We know that all students, and all schools, are not the same. The SWIFT system is designed to combine the strengths of regular and speciailized educators by supporting them to work collaboratively in teaching the grade level curriculum. With the SWIFT framework supporting them schools, districts and states will be poised to scale up implementation to benefit every student. TASH is honored to be a part of the SWIFT Center.
Watch for more information about the SWIFT Center at www.swiftschools.org