After fully engaging in an “epic marathon,” Project EPICS scholars are “quickly approaching the finish line!” Currently, midway into the planned final year of a five-year project, the “Educating Pacific Island Clinicians in Speech Pathology” project, also known as “Project EPICS,” is in “the last lap” of this amazing endurance event. Eighteen student “scholars” are entering their last few months of the project whose mission is to produce graduate-level speech language pathologists to serve and provide much-needed speech services to the children of Guam and the Pacific region. This project is funded through a U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs personnel preparation awarded to San José State University (SJSU), in partnership with Guam CEDDERS. The Spring 2020 semester is packed with activities including completing two online courses and finishing up the required number of practicum hours in school and hospital settings. In April, the scholars can opt to participate in an online “Praxis Preparation Workshop” with Dr. Kay Payne, CCC-SLP, a nationally recognized expert on Praxis prep and the author of numerous Praxis Preparation resources. Similar to the national Praxis examination for teacher certification, the Praxis test for Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) is a requirement for national certification for SLPs. Scholars have the option as to when to sit for this examination. The last SJSU program requirement for all the EPICS scholars is the Comprehensive Examination, fondly referred to as “Comps.” This is scheduled for May 2, 2020. If you may recall, the group of 18 scholars was divided into two cohorts for the purpose of completing an externship in the San José, California area at various sites in collaboration with SJSU. Nine scholars in Cohort 1 completed this externship in August 2019. The remaining nine who comprise Cohort 2 are scheduled to complete their externship this summer, ending in early August 2020. Upon this group’s return, the Project will hold a much-anticipated graduation ceremony to celebrate the incredible effort of these scholars in completing this “marathon” program. As of this writing, however, things are looking like Cohort 2’s externship plans will need to change, given the situation with the COVID 19 pandemic. And sadly, graduation may have to be postponed as well. Stay tuned for the next issue of I Tellai for the update.
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.
On November 25, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Public School System (PSS), Special Education Program convened its Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP), CNMI’s key stakeholder group, comprised of PSS administrators, agency/organization representatives, parent representatives, and individuals with disabilities. Guam CEDDERS June De Leon supported the CNMI Special Education Director during the review of CNMI’s FFY 2018 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Annual Performance Report (APR) indicator performance data and information, including discussion of reasons for “slippage” from last reporting year’s performance, where applicable. In addition, trend data for each APR indicator were reviewed to gather input from SESAP members on proposed indicator targets for FFY 2019, a requirement of the FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR. SESAP’s stakeholder input for proposed FFY 2019 APR indicator targets was a consensus amongst all members.
On the same day, Ms. De Leon supported the PSS Assessment Coordinator who facilitated an afternoon session with 21 special education teachers and student teachers on the “CNMI Spring 2019 Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) Results & Data Interpretation.” The components of the district, school, and individual student reports were reviewed to increase understanding of the student results from administering the Spring 2019 MSAA. In addition, implications for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities was discussed with resources provided to support lesson plan development. Positive feedback from the session indicated that the information shared, especially the student results from the Spring 2019 MSAA administration, was helpful to improve instruction and to be prepared for the Spring 2020 MSAA administration.
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.