2017/18 Institute on Community Integration Annual Report
Educational Systems Improvement
ICI’s collaboration with Micronesia is expanding in the coming year beyond literacy to include a project on the island of Yap to increase student engagement with school and learning using ICI’s Check & Connect school engagement program. ICI’s Maureen Hawes (second from right) and Eileen Klemm (second from left) traveled to Yap to meet with staff of the Yap Special Education Department about the work.
ICI Supports Work of Educators in Micronesia
ICI is supporting educators in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in several system improvement efforts, including improvement of early English literacy. "We're bringing to this work both the knowledge of the State Systemic Improvement Plan, which aims to improve early English literacy, and expertise in using local assessments to guide instructional decision-making and improved outcomes for students with disabilities at the classroom level," says Maureen Hawes, director of ICI's Systems Improvement Group (SIG). Working through SIG, as well as ICI's National Center on Educational Outcomes (which grant-funds the project), Hawes has worked with education leaders in FSM to train general and special educators in collaborative strategies to provide support services to students with disabilities in the general education classroom, and train FSM staff in a continuous improvement system that has helped implement early English literacy in four pilot schools (one in each of the country's four states). In addition, this year FSM received NCEO's intensive technical assistance in evaluating and improving English literacy skills among students. FSM has many languages and students are taught in their particular vernacular until fifth grade. English is a second or third language for most Micronesian children and English-language textbooks are scarce in the country. "These four pilot schools are the first in FSM to teach Reading in English and to use local assessments to gauge performance for grades Early Childhood (kindergarten) to fifth grade," says Hawes. Hawes, who recently returned from working with students and educators in FSM credits SIG colleagues Tri Tran and Arlene Russell Bender for this opportunity to work with FSM. They helped establish the relationship with FSM, its states, and its schools. SIG staff's grasp of the cultural context of Micronesian educators and the infrastructure challenges they face has been essential to this collaboration. "An example of this is the fact that most schools do not have any books in English, if any books at all," she says. "Our team at SIG hosts an annual book drive to collect children's books, games, and school supplies to send to the four pilot schools. It's hard to learn to read in English when you have no books in English. Our team has sent over 4,000 books in the past three years. This makes a huge difference to the children in the pilot schools."
Author Norena Hale with Eric Kloos (MDE) and Char Ryan (MDE retired) at the MDE-sponsored event marking the 60th anniversary of Minnesota’s landmark special education law and release of the book Dogged Determination.
New ICI Book Marks 60th Anniversary of State's Special Education Law
In 2017, ICI marked the 60th anniversary of a legal milestone in special education with the release of a book by ICI’s Norena Hale: Dogged Determination: An Anthology of the 1957 Law Requiring Education for Handicapped Children in Minnesota's Public Schools - A First in the Nation. Its focus is the state law, Special Instruction for Handicapped Children of School Age (MN Statutes 1957 131.081), which required special education in Minnesota's public schools for children with disabilities. That Minnesota law helped lay the foundation for passage of Public Law 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, which required special education to be provided in all public schools in the U.S. That was a forerunner of the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The book provides historical context and tells the stories of the reformers who drafted the law and got it passed. Hale marvels at the ambition of the law: "With the passage of the Special Instruction for Handicapped Children of School Age bill in 1957, Minnesota became one of the first states to require special education in public schools. In the state at that time there were no teacher training programs, no Special Education Section at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), no special education administrators, very limited teaching methods, few teaching materials or curricula, very few national experts to provide guidance, most rural schools had no programs for these children, etc. Most everything had to be created from scratch."
ICI received funding from the Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Cultural and Heritage Fund, to develop and publish Dogged Determination. The stories in it were collected by Dr. Evelyn Deno (1911-2005), a University of Minnesota professor and former supervisor for special education in the Minneapolis Public Schools who began the effort to preserve this history prior to her passing. Her extensive collection of material was reviewed, edited, and compiled into the final book by Hale. The title is in recognition of Deno’s dogged determination to create public school services for children with disabilities, and her tenacity to preserve the story.
Systems Improvement Group Consultation Sites for 2017/18
COMPLETE LIST OF EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS, CENTERS, AND LEAD STAFF
- Connecting the Dots Early Transition Training. Michael N. Sharpe
- Dogged Determination: An Anthology of the 1957 Minnesota Law Requiring Special Education. Norena Hale, David R. Johnson
- Systems Improvement Group. Maureen Hawes, Michael N. Sharpe