Karen Henry
Life Span Institute

Education researchers select five states for national schoolwide reform initiative

Wed, 08/14/2013

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas researchers have selected five states to implement a five-year, $24.5 million K-eighth grade national education initiative called SWIFT (School-wide Integrated Framework for Transformation) Center funded by U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs in October 2012.

The states are Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. New Hampshire and Vermont will be regarded as one state education agency based on their existing education consortium.

The states were selected based on criteria that included having a combination of rural, urban and high-need districts. Rural is defined as a district that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program. A high-need district serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line, or for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the local education agencies are from families with incomes below the poverty line and a high percentage of teachers are not teaching in the academic subjects or grade levels that they were trained to teach, or there is a high percentage of teachers with emergency, provisional or temporary certification or licensing.

Each of the four state education agencies has identified four local school districts and will select 16 schools (four per district) for a total of 64 schools. The SWIFT model requires intensive technical assistance and training over the next five years for representatives from state, district and local administrators as well as classroom teachers, paraprofessionals and other school personnel.

Further, SWIFT will assist state education agencies to implement statewide school reform. A national communication system will include a new generation website, an interactive e–learning knowledge bank, a SWIFT community of practice and a SWIFT national family alliance. 

“SWIFT goes beyond other schoolwide reform inclusion models,” said Wayne Sailor, professor of special education and director of the SWIFT Center at KU.  “SWIFT reintegrates and reclaims the expertise that is now fragmented across educational specialties and focuses all of the resources to allow teaching and learning to flourish in a really new way.”

The SWIFT model is based on more than 10 years of KU research to improve academic and social outcomes for K-eighth grade students that was successfully implemented in several low-income urban schools in California, Kansas City, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

“A visitor to these schools would see all students — including those with significant support needs — in grade-level classrooms and other school settings with their peers,” said Amy McCart, KU associate research professor and SWIFT director of technical assistance.

The KU SWIFT Center will provide each district with a highly skilled, technical assistance team with targeted expertise based on the schools’ initial assessments.

Partners with KU in the SWIFT Center initiative include the University of Oregon, the University of New Hampshire, the University of North Carolina, the University of South Florida, Arizona State University, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, TASH, the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education.

The SWIFT school districts (local education agencies) and schools to date:

1. Maryland

  • Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Queen Anne’s County Public Schools
  • Cecil County Public Schools
  • Harford County Public Schools

2. Mississippi

  • Indianola School District
  • Sunflower School District
  • North Panola School District
  • Meridian Public School District

3.  New Hampshire

  • Madison School District
  • Hudson School District
  • Fall Mountain Regional School District
  • Milton School District

4. Oregon

  • Portland School District
  • Meriwether Lewis School
  • Atkinson Elementary School
  • Sabin School
  • Irvington School
  • Pendleton School District
  • McKay Creek Elementary
  • Sisters School District
  • Sisters Middle School
  • Redmond School District
  • M. A. Lynch Elementary

5. Vermont

  • Grand Isle Supervisory Union
  • Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union
  • Windham Southeast Supervisory Union
  • Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.

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