The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in collaboration with Guam CEDDERS held several virtual planning meetings in the last few months with stakeholders to collect input on how the State Systemic Improvement Project (SSIP) will be adapted in response to COVID-19. Sessions were comprised of the SSIP Project Director, SSIP Principals, SSIP teacher leaders, GDOE Special Education personnel, and SSIP on-island consultants. The focus of the meetings was on how professional development will be delivered amid the COVID-19 restrictions and what supplemental resources were needed by schools. The content and format of professional development sessions were discussed. In addition, a Teacher Leader Survey was also sent out to ascertain areas that need to be targeted during professional development.
On May 1, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in collaboration with Guam CEDDERS held a virtual stakeholder input session on significant disproportionality with 14 GDOE personnel and members from the Guam Advisory Panel for Students with Disabilities (GAPSD) and the Guam Developmental Disabilities Council. New regulations require states, inclusive of Guam, to use a standard methodology to determine if significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the State and the local educational agency. An important part of the reporting process is how the State included stakeholders in determining whether or not significant disproportionality exists. There are three categories for significant disproportionality: identification, placement, and discipline.
In partnership with the University of Guam (UOG) Office of Information Technology and Guam CEDDERS, Guam Department of Education (GDOE), Division of Special Education prioritized providing technical support to their speech-language pathologists in delivering teletherapy. With facilitation support from Guam CEDDERS June De Leon and Josephine Cruz, UOG’s Interim Chief Information Officer Manny Hechanova conducted five virtual sessions in April and May with the Division’s speech-language pathologists assigned to providing Extended School Year services in the summer. A total of eight Division personnel and speech-language pathologists participated in the virtual sessions. The sessions covered an array of topics related to using the Zoom and Moodle virtual platforms. Participants learned how to use the various features on virtual platforms. They also engaged in problem-solving on how to make the platforms more interactive as they deliver teletherapy.
The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services Project Bisita I Familia, in collaboration with Guam CEDDERS, began facilitating a series of focus group meetings with parents of children birth to five years and early childhood providers to pull together data and information about home visiting services for the updated Needs Assessment. First conducted in 2010, the Needs Assessment identifies communities with concentrations of defined risk factors, assesses the quality and capacity of home visiting services in the territory, and assesses the territory’s capacity for providing substance abuse treatment and counseling services.
The purpose of updating the territory-wide needs assessment is for grantees to gather more recent information on community needs and ensure that Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs are being implemented in areas of high need. The 2010 Needs Assessment identified the areas of Dededo, Yigo, and Mangilao as areas of high need and as such home visiting services are offered to families residing in these villages. Updates to the needs assessment will determine if home visiting services should continue and/or expand to other villages around the island.
The focus group meetings, facilitated by Early Childhood Consultants Mary Kidd and Elaine Eclavea, provided parents and early childhood providers the opportunity to examine and assess services currently being offered in the community. Parents provided feedback on the types of questions and modes of delivery to garner feedback from families receiving early childhood services. Early Childhood providers were given the opportunity to discuss current services and gaps in training, acceptance of services, and job satisfaction. The completed 2020 Needs Assessment will be submitted in September.
On February 25, Mary Kidd, Early Childhood Conusltant, facilitated a stakeholder input session with parents enrolled in Project Bisita I Familia, Guam Early Intervention System, Early Childhood Special Education Preschool, and Head Start Program at the Dededo Farmers’ Market Complex. This group of parents provided suggestions on the types of questions necessary for garnering feedback about home visiting and early childhood services on Guam.
On February 25, Mary Kidd (standing right), Early Childhood Consultant, facilitated the first focus group meeting with parents receiving services from early childhood programs at the Dededo Farmers’ Market Complex.
Two Guam Department of Education (GDOE) State Systemic Improvement Project (SSIP) schools provided family engagement workshops for parents centered on improving literacy. The schools were M.U. Lujan Elementary and J. M. Guerrero Elementary. M.U. Lujan Elementary held their session on December 19, 2019 and J.M. Guerrero Elementary held their session on January 14. Both sessions were conducted at the respective schools. A combined total of 144 parents participated in the workshops. The workshops were focused on the online family toolkit from the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL). Using laptops provided by the schools, parents were given the opportunity to explore the NCIL website for parent resources and tools that can be used to support reading at home. The sessions were an extension of the Pacific SSIP Collaborative which was held on Guam in October 2019. As part of the Pacific SSIP Collaborative, Sarah Sayko, Deputy Director of NCIL, conducted a workshop for families and school personnel on October 12, 2019. The SSIP principals who attended the sessions took back the information to their school community and had their own workshops to share this valuable online resource.
As part of the Guam Department of Education’s (GDOE) State Systemic Improvement Project (SSIP), a professional development centered on the principles of explicit and systematic instruction and on improvement science was held on January 6 at The Westin Resort Guam. One-hundred thirty teachers, teacher assistants, and administrators from the four SSIP schools participated in the training. The SSIP schools are Price Elementary, Chief Brodie Memorial Elementary, Juan M. Guerrero Elementary, and M.U. Lujan Elementary. The facilitators of the training were Guam CEDDERS training associate, Josephine Cruz; and Guam CEDDERS consultant, Nieves Flores with support from SSIP teacher leaders Bianca Nguyen, Pearl Hamada, Valene Salas, Michelle DeGuzman, Gina Call, Annette Raguindin, and Ursula Umadhay and SSIP school principals Darlene Castro, Rose Castro, Natasha Dela Cruz, and Elias Taisipic.
The professional development is part of GDOE’s “Continuous Improvement Road Map for Improving Reading Achievement”. The goal of GDOE’s SSIP is to improve the reading proficiency of students by the time they reach 3rd grade. Central to achieving this goal is ensuring that effective instructional principles are being implemented. In addition, understanding the “root cause” for the current state of reading achievement within the GDOE SSIP schools is critical in promoting systemic change.
Subsequently, the professional development served as an extension of the Pacific SSIP Collaborative that was held in October 2019 and included the expertise of technical assistance providers from four National Centers and the Regional Educational Laboratory- Pacific (REL-Pacific). During the Pacific SSIP Collaborative, there were sessions on high-quality reading instruction and the use of explicit instructional elements in the delivery of reading instruction.
The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS held overview sessions on Nov. 25-26 at the GDOE Tiyan main office for Special Education teachers, Division personnel, and parents centered on how to use Bookshare to help students with a print disability have access to reading materials. Bookshare, a Benetech initiative, is an ebook library that contains over 770,000 titles. Bookshare makes reading easier for people with reading barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, and physical disabilities. Bookshare allows users to listen to books being read aloud, to follow along with audio and highlighted text, to read in large type, and to read in Braille. Free membership in Bookshare is available for all qualified U.S. students of any age through funds from the U.S. Department of Education. The sessions were facilitated by Christine Jones, the Associate Director for U.S. Education for Bookshare/Benetech.
On November 18, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE), in partnership with Guam CEDDERS, provided school-level support to aimswebPlus trainers at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School. The training session included 10 school-level trainers and centered on how to generate data reports using the new aimswebPlus portal. AimswebPlus is the universal screener used by the GDOE to identify students who may be at-risk in reading and math. School-level trainers will use the skills gained in the session to assist their colleagues at each grade-level in generating reports. Teachers will use the data in the reports to adapt instruction and interventions in order to meet the unique needs of students in their class. The training session was facilitated by Guam CEDDERS Training Associate Josephine Cruz, and consultants Nieves Flores and June Quitugua.
On October 15 & 16, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) Division of Special Education held three-hour sessions to review the results of the Spring 2019 Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) administration and to discuss implications for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities. These sessions entitled focused on “Spring 2019 MSAA Results and Data Interpretation,” were designed for school administrators and elementary and secondary special education teachers who served as test administrators for the Spring 2019 MSAA on-line alternate assessment system administered to students with significant cognitive disabilities requiring an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) in ELA and Mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11. Guam CEDDERS June De Leon provided technical support during the review of the state (Guam) and school summaries of Guam’s MSAA participation and performance data. In addition, each school received their individual student reports for dissemination to parents during the 1st quarter parent conferences.
The sessions also provided an opportunity to review the Spring 2019 MSAA results in relation to the curriculum, instruction, and assessment framework for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities requiring an AA-AAS. Additional resources were provided to support teaching ELA and Mathematics that align to the grade level content standards, which included sample templates for lesson creation that incorporated a process for identifying adaptations needed for addressing the learning needs of the students.
The island value of living in a spirit of togetherness and belonging was obvious at the Pacific State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Collaborative, “Our Pacific Journey for Improvement,” as the six Pacific entities convened to focus on improving educational results of all students with disabilities in the Pacific. Not even the threat of a storm could dampen the spirit of community that was nurtured throughout the week-long activities. The event was held from October 7-10 at the Westin Resort Guam and from October 11-12 at the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) Main Building.
The collaborative was hosted by GDOE with support from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The six participating Pacific entities were American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam, Republic of Palau, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. Each entity sent teams comprised of entity-level general and special education administrators and specialists; school-level principals; general and special education teachers; coaches/mentors; and parents of students with disabilities to participate in the convening.
The convening engagement activities were facilitated by technical assistance providers from four National Centers, the Regional Educational Laboratory-Pacific (REL-Pacific), and Guam CEDDERS. The facilitators included:
•Sheryl Lazarus and Maureen Hawes from the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO);
•Cesar D’Agord with virtual support from Kathleen Pfannenstiel from the National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI);
•Amy Peterson from the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII);
•Sarah Sayko and Carol Dissen from the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL);
•June De Leon and Josephine Cruz from Guam CEDDERS, with support from consultants Nieves Flores and June Quitugua; and
•Christina Tydeman, Meagan Taylor, and Dale Lewis from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific.
The overall goal of the collaborative was to improve educational results of all students with disabilities in the Pacific entities by focusing on each entity’s capacity to increase the reading achievement of students with disabilities within a multi-tiered system of supports. In doing this, the resulting outcomes of the collaborative were an enhanced understanding of the following: assessment systems, infrastructure systems to sustain and scale-up, sustainable job-embedded professional development, sustainable coaching supports, and increased engagement of key stakeholders, in particular parents of students with disabilities.
The regional event was years in the making and resulted in increased collaboration and partnerships across the Pacific region. The learning and partnerships made as result of the Pacific SSIP Collaborative will surely be enduring and a hallmark of the persistent Pacific spirit.