Karen Henry
Life Span Institute

National education initiative becomes affiliated research center

Mon, 05/18/2015

LAWRENCE — The Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation Center has become the Life Span Institute’s 14th affiliated center.

SWIFT, a national K-8 technical assistance center, was funded with a $24 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2012 to implement a KU research-based approach to inclusion that realigns educational resources to support all students, including those with disabilities. The grant was the second highest in KU’s history to date.

“We are proud to recognize SWIFT’s national scope and influence with a designation as one of the Life Span Institute’s centers,” said John Colombo, LSI director. “This project has the potential to be a turning point for American education.”

The SWIFT Center at KU currently provides differentiated technical assistance to 67 schools in 19 districts in Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. These states were selected based on criteria that included having a combination of rural, urban and high-need districts. Further, SWIFT assists state education agencies to expand and sustain statewide school reform.

SWIFT brings together special and general education in a comprehensive continuum of supports and services. For example, said Wayne Sailor, SWIFT director, schools implement a multi-tiered system of support of increasing intensity of instruction for all students that includes addressing behavior issues that impede the learning progress. 

SWIFT is highly data driven, said Amy McCart, director of technical assistance.

“The conversations we have with schools, districts and states around data indicate when organizational change is taking place and informs decisions about the differentiated nature and content of the TA we provide," she said.

Partners with KU in the SWIFT Center include the University of Oregon, the University of New Hampshire, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, TASH and the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education.

“We’re excited to be a part of LSI’s family of great researchers and technical support providers and to benefit from the tremendous set of supports the institute provides,” Sailor said. 

The Life Span Institute, the largest and oldest research center at KU, has 14 affiliated research centers with 170 scientists from 20 academic departments who study human health and development from its genetic origins to the final stages of life. 

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