Mississippi English Learners


SECC will work with the Office of Special Education to provide support with the Autism Advisory Council, restraint and seclusion work, review and feedback of special education (SPED) documents, and the Federal Programs Advisory Committee. SECC also will assist the Office of Federal Programs in expanding state support to school districts in the area of English Learners (EL). SECC will work with the Mississippi English language coordinator and other key MDE staff to build the state's internal capacity to implement Title III law legal requirements and to facilitate the state's provision of evidenced-based support to schools and districts serving EL students.

This project is in the following state: Mississippi.

This project relates to the following ED Priorities:

  • Turning around the lowest-performing schools
  • Identifying and scaling up innovative approaches to teaching and learning that significantly improve student outcomes
  • Using data-based decision-making to improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes

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Previous Work Updates

2016

September

The MDE EL literacy specialist met with a SECC staff member via conference call on September 27 to develop a plan for the second MDE EL Advisory Panel which is scheduled for November 2 in Jackson, Mississippi. This panel meeting will follow up on the previous meeting held on August 23 to allow members to share the feedback and input they received from their stakeholders at the local level regarding the ELPA 21 standards. MDE staff sent SECC staff an outline of possible engaging activities discussed during the September 27 meeting for their review. SECC project staff members followed up with an internal meeting on September 29 to discuss and augment the work session activities and create a facilitators agenda. The SECC project team is planning to meet with MDE via GoToMeeting on October 4 to discuss the plans for the work session.

August

In light of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, MDE plans to make recommendations to the state board of education as to which English language proficiency (ELP) standards to adopt. At the request of the MDE, SECC project staff researched and compiled a comparison report of various state-adopted ELP standards and the national Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) ELP Standards to present to the state’s EL Advisory Panel for review. MDE was particularly interested in reviewing English Language Proficiency Assessment 21 (ELPA 21) consortium standards as well as state-developed ELP standards. The selected ELPA21 states included in the report were Arkansas and West Virginia, while the latter states included Texas, California, and New York. SECC staff presented the report to the EL Advisory Panel on August 23. The panel’s task was to review the TESOL and state- developed ELP standards to find features they deemed favorable then carefully review the ELPA21 standards. As SECC worked to compile the report, they collaborated with MDE to develop a facilitator’s agenda for the August 23 EL Advisory Panel meeting. Next steps include having the panel continue to review the ELPA 21 standards before the second EL Advisory Panel meeting where they are expected to provide feedback. MDE will send a follow-up email with detailed instructions to the panel and schedule a conference call with SECC to debrief and plan for the

July

On July 14 via conference call, the MDE ELL specialist requested support from SECC to create a table comparing English language development standards that are being implemented nationally. MDE asked that the document be presented at the state’s ELL Advisory Panel meeting on August 23. SECC staff will copresent the standards comparison table with the ELL specialist, and the advisory panel will have the opportunity to provide input and recommendations as to which standards the state should adopt. The project team plans to codevelop an agenda for the initial meeting and develop an outline for at least two follow-up meetings. In the meantime, SECC staff worked to compile the comparison table of EL development standards. On July 19, SECC staff facilitated its state Title IIII networking webinar where ELL coordinators and specialists cross-collaborated with counterparts from Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Each state discussed past and current approaches to EL PD and support for LEAs and schools serving this population of students. They shared and learned about SEA contexts for EL education in the Southeast, processes SECC states use to provide EL PD for administrators and ESOL and classroom teachers, successes and challenges, as well their own processes for systems of support. At the conclusion of the conversation, SEA staff were able to ask questions of their colleagues, and they expressed an interest in scheduling a second networking session. Next steps are for SECC staff to compile and disseminate a report of the webinar, review survey results, and plan for session #2.

June

SECC project staff prepared for its upcoming SECC state networking webinar whereby Title III coordinators and collaborating colleagues at their departments will be participating. SEAs planning to engage in this event include those from Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina. SECC staff sent an email to participating staff at MDE on June 29 with details on how to prepare for the event. Next steps are for the SEA to complete its 15-minute presentation and send it to SECC staff by July 14. SECC staff will compile each state’s presentation slides into one file, which will be used during the July 19 webinar. Anticipated outcomes for the event are for SEAs to share and learn (a) about SEA contexts for E learner education in the Southeast, (b) about processes SECC states use to provide EL professional development for administrators and ESOL and classroom teachers, (c) about successes and challenges SEAs face and (d) to reflect on their own processes for systems of support.

May

SECC project staff sent an announcement to all SECC states’ Title III staff on May 6 regarding its plans to host and facilitate a networking webinar where each state with an interest in participating will share their experiences with providing EL professional development and technical assistance to LEAs. After receiving feedback from MDE and its counterparts, SECC staff continued to work on coordinating dates for hosting and facilitating the webinar. The Title III and ELL literacy coordinator at MDE will be participating in this cross-state collaborative to share the SEA’s successes, lessons learned, and to network with other states in the Southeast.

April

SECC staff met with the Title III director on April 21 via conference call. The Title III director provided updates on planning for the annual summer ELL Boot Camp, which will be held in Jackson, Mississippi, July 13–5. Other updates included the SEA’s progress on revising its EL Guidelines. The SEA is planning to include information related to ESSA in the guidelines but is waiting until more information is available from the U.S. Department of Education. It is possible that work on the EL Guidelines will resume in late May or early June. During the call, SECC suggested having a multistate (e.g., Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, and North Carolina) webinar to share lessons learned, challenges, success stories, and collaboration with other state EL leaders. The Title III director is interested in this collaborative resource and will be keeping a list of possible topics she is interested in learning about. The next step for SECC project staff is to schedule an internal planning call to discuss the cross-state collaborative.

March

In late March, SECC staff shared three English learner resources with the MDE Title III director. Resource topics include ELs with suspected disabilities and major provisions impacting the education of ELs found in the Every Student Succeeds Act. To further support the SEA with these resources, SECC offered training on the first topic, as some project staff have been working on similar activities with the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center and can share the work with Mississippi. Two of the shared resources focus on new ESSA regulations concerning ELs, one of which was provided by CCSSO, and the other a live streaming event on April 7, hosted by AIR’s Education Policy Center with Diane August as moderator. Given ESSA’s strong focus on ELs, next steps for SECC’s EL experts are to discuss the possibility of facilitating conversations among Title III and EL directors in served states so that each has the opportunity to ask questions, share current approaches and resources, and plan and prepare for new regulations.

February

In late February, the MDE EL literacy specialist requested information and resources regarding secondary level English learner immigrant students with little educational experiences, as a Mississippi school district is experiencing an influx of these students and needs support. SECC staff shared a resource regarding students with interrupted formal education (SIFE), a document that was developed previously for the Alabama State Department of Education. SECC will follow up with the EL literacy specialist to determine if other resources are needed, including TA. SECC staff shared other policy-related resources with the MDE Title III director, and a conference call was held with her on February 26 to discuss plans for a committee of practitioners meeting to complete the EL guidelines document. Next steps are to schedule a date for the meeting and begin planning the facilitator agenda.

January

Three conference calls were held in January between SECC and MDE. A SECC staff member participated in a collaborative meeting on January 5 with several members from different MDE offices. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the need for developing and implementing a comprehensive plan of EL instructional support for LEAs and statewide implementation of English language proficiency (ELP) standards. Recently, MDE adopted LAS Links as its new English language proficiency test and will subsequently be implementing new ELP standards. Next steps for SECC staff and the Title III director were to schedule a follow up meeting on January 21 to discuss the ELP standards, PD, and the revision of the MDE EL Guidelines. During the follow up meeting on January 21, the MDE Title III director and SECC project staff discussed preliminary plans for an EL summer institute for classroom teachers and principals as well as SECC’s review of stakeholder revisions to the MDE EL Guidelines. The Title III director planned to send another section of the document for SECC to review, while SECC staff planned to share resources on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as it relates to English learners. The team’s meeting is scheduled for early February. On January 28, the SECC project lead met briefly via conference call with a newly hired EL specialist at MDE where they were able to learn more about each other’s work and how SECC has provided technical support to the department in the area of ELs. SECC’s next steps are to share a few EL resources with the new staff member and schedule a meeting for February.

2015

December

On December 21, 2015, SECC and MDE Title III staff discussed recent SEA training on the newly adopted standards as part of the SEA's adoption of LAS-Links assessments for ELLs. The SEA requested SECC support with training on ELL instruction for LEAs and reviewing stakeholder revisions of the MDE ELL Guidelines document. Next steps are for SECC project staff to review the guidelines revisions by January 8, 2016. A cross-collaboration meeting is scheduled for January 5 with MDE staff representing federal programs, curriculum and instruction, and elementary and reading, to begin preliminary planning for developing a comprehensive plan for ELL instructional support and to discuss the requirements for the adoption and implementation of ELL standards in the state.

November

The MDE Title III director held a virtual stakeholder committee meeting in early November to give members instructions for revising the MDE ELL guidelines document. The timeline for completing revisions is December 1. At that time, SECC staff will support the Title III director with reviewing and providing feedback of the revisions using a rubric to guide the process.

October

The MDE Title III director and SECC project staff held a virtual planning meeting on October 7 to prepare for the first online ELL stakeholder committee work session where stakeholders will begin revising the MDE ELL guidelines document. This stakeholder meeting is slated for November 2. To support the Title III director with the planning process, SECC staff shared a template for outlining an agenda for the first virtual stakeholder meeting. In addition, SECC staff created an alignment of the ELL ToolKit recently disseminated by ED with the current MDE ELL guidelines document to support stakeholders with sound resources for completing the work. This toolkit corresponds to the January 2015 Dear Colleague Letter issued jointly by ED and the Department of Justice, outlining legal obligations to ELLs and their civil rights. Next steps include co-developing a rubric with MDE for reviewing the stakeholders’ revisions to the document. Both MDE and SECC staff will review the committee’s work in mid-November.

September

SECC and MDE staff spent time this month planning for the revision of the MDE Title III guidelines manual. On September 21, the team participated in a conference call to complete components of an action plan for coordinating MDE Title III stakeholder task force meetings for revising the guidelines manual. The Title III director set tentative dates for three 2-day stakeholder meetings, and determined outcomes and possible stakeholder tasks. The team’s next steps are to regroup in early October to discuss progress made with the action plan, to share resources that will support the work of the stakeholders, and to begin co-developing an agenda for the first stakeholder work session. The Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TACC)’s webinar series provided valuable information on various topics pertinent to serving special students. Information on the below webinars was provided to staff from the Office of Special Education: (1) September 16, State Implementation & Scaling Up of Evidence-Based Practices (SISEP) webinar, Learn Competent Coaching Techniques; (2) September 22, Conducting Customer Surveys webinar, the third part of the TACC’s webinar series on surveys; and (3) September 23 webinar that provided an overview of the new module, Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview for Educators, from The IRIS Center.

August

SECC and MDE staff met via conference call to discuss Year 3 activities in terms of progress made and future directions for Year 4. The Title III director indicated the need to continue each activity into Year 4, including support with the development and implementation of the MDE Title III guidelines manual and a comprehensive plan and timeline for supporting general classroom teachers with English learner professional development. Next steps include an online work session on September 21, during which the project team will review and discuss plans for both projects. Information on two webinar series from the Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TACC) was provided to staff from the Office of Special Education: (a) Learning how the CEEDAR Center, a national technical assistance center, partners with states to improve their professional learning systems (PLS), including examples that align with state systemic improvement plans; and (b) Planning, designing, and conducting customer surveys. Information also was shared regarding an upcoming webinar on Integrating Employability Skills into Everyday Instruction. This webinar will showcase a new, interactive learning module, Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators.

July

SECC/AIR senior TA consultant Heidi Goertzen attended the regional MDE ELL Boot Camp in Gulfport, Mississippi, to support the Title III coordinator and to observe delivery of the training. SECC project staff co-planned the boot camp with the Title III coordinator over the course of spring and summer. Part of co-planning included tapping into local resources as a means of recruiting ELL specialists to present regional training sessions for general classroom teachers. As such, SECC was able to observe each of the trainers at this regional training. Next steps are to schedule a conference call with the Title III coordinator to debrief the boot camp and discuss plans for Year 4, which will include the design of a comprehensive system of support for districts serving ELLs. The team will discuss the possibility of including effective trainers from this summer’s boot camp in the plan of support.  The team finalized information for the MDE/SECC Year 4 Plan of Work’s Diverse Learners-Special Education project. As per request of MDE’s special education director, a copy of the most recent version of the Technical Assistance & Dissemination’s (TA&D) “placement" of federally funded TA centers was provided. Additionally, multiple resources were shared with the staff of the Office of Special Education, including information on collaboration with authentic engagement; sustainability of high priority reforms; planning, designing, and conducting customer surveys; and the National Center for Systemic Improvement.

June

SECC staff held a planning meeting in early June to prepare for its June 18 conference call with MDE Title III staff to continue coplanning for the summer ELL Boot Camp. During the conference call with the SEA, the team reviewed registration numbers, which indicated a low principal registration count. Consequently, the team considered the possibility of either rescheduling the principals’ session for the next institute or sending out frequent reminders about the boot camp. In addition, some changes to the training content geared for the teacher sessions at the boot camp were discussed. As a result, SECC staff planned to support the SEA by providing training tools that could be used as materials for the ELL Boot Camp. The Title III director’s next steps were to have a conversation with her supervisor and inform SECC staff of their decision regarding the principal sessions, and SECC staff planned to collect training materials to share with the SEA. In support of the MDE’s special education task force work, information on the following resources was shared with staff from the Office of Special Education: the newly released Center on Great Teachers & Leaders' webinar, Educator Preparation Policy and Practice as an Equity Strategy for Students with Disabilities and two TACC webinars, Why Does Accessibility Matter? and Lessons Learned in Model Sustainment.

May

SECC and MDE Title III staff scheduled a conference call to continue collaborating on plans for the upcoming regional ELL Boot camp to be held on July 13, 15, and 17 across Mississippi. The team discussed materials needed for the principals’ session, approaches to vetting presenters, sharing SEA expectations with presenters, and processes for reviewing the presenters’ materials. As a thought partner, SECC helped the Title III coordinator brainstorm ideas for case study topics for the principal training to make it relevant and engaging. Next steps include narrowing down which case studies to address in the training for principals and for supporting the SEA with the co-development of facilitators' notes for the ELL Boot Camp. A second co-planning meeting occurred in late May for the summer ELL Boot camp in July. The team discussed progress on reviewing trainers' presentations, SEA input on facilitators' notes, and topics for case studies. Finally, the team decided to strengthen communication efforts regarding the target audience for the ELL Boot camp to ensure all participants are aware of the opportunity afforded by the SEA. Next steps include finalizing case study topics and completing the review of trainers' presentations. Two co-planning meetings were scheduled for mid- and late June. Additionally, information on the following three TACC webinars was provided in support of the MDE’s special education task force work: State Implementation & Scaling-Up of Evidence-Based Practices, Learn from Six Lessons on Systems Change, and Introducing the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT).

April

During conference call planning meetings, SECC and MDE staff collaborated on the upcoming regional English Learner (EL) summer institute slated for July, which will be held for one day at three sites. An internal planning meeting occurred on April 3 to clarify the agenda and prepare materials. This meeting entailed a discussion of the state’s progress on registration processes and securing regional EL trainers. The state reported good progress in both areas with no hands-on assistance needed from the SECC staff except to ask questions and serve as thought partners in how to strategically leverage local resources and talent for providing regional EL training. Toward those ends, the state decided to use EL coordinators and teachers to train classroom teachers at the conferences. MDE Title III staff requested SECC’s assistance in training principals and the district EL directors. The April 23 call was a progression of the first whereby SECC and MDE Title III staff discussed timelines and plans for reviewing and providing feedback for the EL trainers’ presentations. As next steps, SECC will assist in the review of presentations, continue to codevelop the facilitator’s notes in more detail for the next meeting and investigate possible case studies as an activity. The next meeting will occur in early May as part of the team’s recurring checkpoints during the coplanning process. In support of MDE’s special education task force work, information from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement on Blended Learning Readiness and Progress Rubric was shared with staff from the Office of Special Education. Additionally, information was disseminated regarding an April 14 webinar on Early Childhood Behavior Management that also may be beneficial to the special education task force work.

March

SECC and MDE Title III staff made final revisions to the SECC Year 3 Work Plan, which involved extending project timelines. SECC staff continued supporting MDE staff with planning for an English learner summer institute; as such, they held two conference calls, using a planning tool to facilitate determining logistics for the summer conference. Next steps involve sharing additional templates, including a facilitators’ agenda and save-the-date flyers to support the Title III director as she continues to map out the conference planning process. SECC staff participated in the Special Education Task Force meeting, “Coalescing Around the Issues,” on March 23. During the meeting, the task force’s three priorities and associated strategies, as well as the preliminary report, were reviewed. Alignment of the task force’s strategies to the state board of education’s strategic plan and to the State Systemic Improvement Plan was explored. Next steps were discussed, including subcommittee work, recruitment of teachers to serve on the task force, time frame for future task force meetings, and measurements of success. June was tentatively identified as the month for the next meeting of the full task force.

February

SECC project staff and MDE Title III staff began the process of revising the SECC Year 3 work plan based on current state needs. SECC staff also coordinated support for MDE’s proposed English Learner (EL) summer institute. As such, they created a planning tool to help the Title III director determine logistics and a timeline for the conference. Next steps involve sharing the tool with the Title III director to begin mapping out the process. On April 19, SECC staff met with the Director of the Office of Special Education, Gretchen Cagle, to discuss revisions to the Diverse Learners-SPED project in the MDE/SECC Year 3 Plan of Work. Consensus was reached regarding revising the activities within the plan. SECC incorporated the project revisions into the work plan for submission to Dr. Howard-Brown and subsequent submission to Dr. Benton for review and feedback. As a follow up to the special education task force meetings, during which transition was a major topic of discussion, SECC staff shared information on SEDL’s 2/25/15 webinar on Guideposts for Success to Support Employment Transition for Youths with Disabilities: Research, Policy, and VR Practices. Resource information on three new IRIS Center modules on Evidenced-Based Practices and Programs also was shared with Cagle and her staff.

January

Staff from MDE and SECC discussed preliminary plans to coordinate an English learner (EL) summer institute for various target audiences, including administrators, general classroom teachers, and English as a second language (ESOL) teachers. In addition, the project team is at the beginning stages of planning and developing a sustained, systematic approach to this professional development opportunity. The team will discuss and plan next steps in mid-February. On January 15, MDE’s director of special education presented to the State Board of Education (SBE) the special education’s task force’s report containing its final recommendations for Priority A: Access to the General Education Curriculum in General Education, Priority B: Increasing the High School Graduation Rate and Decreasing the Dropout Rate and Priority C: Increasing the Post-Secondary Enrollment Rate and Improving Workforce Readiness Skills. SECC staff and other task force members attended the SBE meeting and were recognized by Dr. Wright for their contributions to MDE. Additionally, SECC provided information on three webinars from the Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TACC): (a) Guidelines for Working with Third-Party Evaluators, (b) Systems Coaching: What’s “Systems” Got to Do with It?, and (c Improving Results for All: The Role of Intensive Intervention in Results-Driven Accountability.

2014

December

MDE and SECC staff rescheduled a webinar slated for this month to discuss the state department’s action plan for revising its English Learner Policy and Procedures Manual. The team will resume its collaboration in January 2015. SECC staff also participated in the Special Education Task Force Meeting on December 16, 2014, in Jackson, Mississippi. MDE and task force members presented an executive summary and presentation to Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, the task force’s final recommendations for Priority A: Access to the General Education Curriculum in General Education, Priority B: Increasing the High School Graduation Rate and Decreasing the Dropout Rate and Priority C: Increasing the Post-Secondary Enrollment Rate and Improving Workforce Readiness Skills. Dr. Wright provided feedback on the recommendations which was followed by a question and answer session. Recommendations, “Big Insights, action steps, measures of implementation (outputs), and anticipated impact were presented for the three priority areas. The task force report will be presented to the state board of education January 15, 2015. Task force members are invited to attend this meeting, as Dr. Wright will recognize the task force and any members who are present.

November

SECC program associates and partner staff from AIR facilitated an online work session with MDE Title III staff in November. The team began working on an action plan for revising the MDE English Learner Policy and Procedures Guidelines document. Next steps include reviewing the action plan and providing feedback to facilitate its implementation. SECC provided information on the following resources to the Mississippi Department of Education: (a) TACC's November 5 webinar on the new National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI), which provided an overview of the center's overarching goal, intended outcomes, structure, collaborating partners and initial activities, and a link to the website where you can access the archived materials; (b) TACC's November 19 webinar on evaluating technical assistance, including a link to its archived materials; and (c) additional webinar information. SECC staff will participate in the December 16 Special Education Task Force meeting.

October

SECC program associates and partner staff from AIR began planning and preparing for two online work sessions with MDE Title III staff that are scheduled for November 10 and 13. These work sessions are designed to build capacity in developing (a) systemic processes for creating, implementing, and evaluating a three-year professional development strategic plan to support districts serving English learners and (b) procedures for revising the MDE EL Policy and Procedures Guidelines document. SECC staff participated in the Special Education Task Force Meeting on October 29, in Jackson, Mississippi. MDE staff provided an update on the work the Special Education Task Force Core Group completed for Priority A: Access to the General Education Curriculum in General Education. Small work groups discussed and identified recommendations/activities for Priority B: Increasing Graduation Rates and Decreasing Dropout Rates and for Priority C: Increasing the Post-Secondary Enrollment Rate. Additionally, information regarding services at the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services and an update on the Workforce Investment Act was provided.

September

SECC Program Associates Ramona Chauvin and Heidi Goertzen facilitated a professional development workshop in Jackson, Mississippi, to provide participants with evidence-based instructional strategies for English learners (ELs). These practices are based on recent recommendations that a panel of expert researchers made and can be found in the Institute for Education Sciences’ Educator’s Practice Guide entitled Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School. The day after the training, SECC and MDE Title III staff met to discuss an upcoming EL project that entails providing technical assistance in two areas: (a) planning, implementation, and evaluation of a systemic three-year professional development program to support district and schools serving ELs; and (b) augmenting the MDE EL Policy Guidelines. On September 3, SECC staff participated in the Special Education Task Force webinar, Priority B: Increasing the High School Graduation Rate, Decreasing the Dropout Rate. SECC staff also participated in the September 24 task force meeting, Coalescing Around Issues. During the meeting, MDE staff reviewed task force goals and provided progress updates. Workgroups discussed the Priority A “big insights” and developed recommendations based on the prioritized list for Priority A, Access to the General Curriculum. In October, SECC staff will participate in the next Special Education Task Force on-site meeting.

August

This month SECC Program Associates, Heidi Goertzen and Ramona Chauvin, developed a training session for K–12 classroom teachers designed to build their knowledge and skills for developing academic language for English learners in Mississippi. Title III program staff from MDE prepared the introduction to the training, which focuses on state procedures for the identification and placement of English learners (ELs) in language development programs. This training serves as a component to a systemic professional development approach for supporting school systems and their diverse learners. The training is scheduled for September 15–16 in Jackson, Mississippi. On August 8, SECC staff met with an MDE planning team to discuss the “Diverse Learners-Special Education” section of the Mississippi Year 3 Plan of Work. A follow-up conference call with the special education director was held on August 13 to clarify potential SECC special education services to MDE. The SECC also participated in conference calls with the Southeastern Regional Resource Center (SERRC) regarding SECC and SERRC continuing to collaborate in the provision of services to MDE. Additionally, SECC staff participated in the August 27 Special Education Task Force webinar, Priority A: Access to the General Curriculum. In September, SECC staff will participate in the next Special Education Task Force webinar and on-site meeting.

July

SECC Program Associates, Heidi Goertzen and Ramona Chauvin, discussed plans with MDE Title III staff for the upcoming English learner (EL) training designed for K–12 classroom teachers to be held September 15–16 in Jackson, Mississippi. Day 1 of the training is for elementary teachers, and Day 2 is geared for secondary level teachers. Regarding next steps, the team discussed various approaches to long-term professional development that supports district and school staff with effective practices for serving ELs. After the upcoming training in September, the team will have discussions on an appropriate training model for educators in Mississippi. SECC staff participated in the special education task force meeting, Coalescing Around the Issues in July. The focus of the task force meeting was MDE’s eight special education priorities. Three top special education priorities were identified: (a) Accessing the General Curriculum in the General Education Environment; (b) Increasing the High School Graduation Rate, Decreasing the Dropout Rate; and (c) Increasing the Post-Secondary Enrollment Rate and Improving Workforce Readiness Skills. Participants engaged in both large- and small-group dialogue sessions regarding these three priorities.

June

SECC Program Associate Heidi Goertzen and staff from the MDE Title III office began planning for an upcoming English learner (EL) professional development training to be held in September 2014 in Jackson, Mississippi. The training is designed for K–12 classroom teachers on the latest research-based practices for teaching ELs academic language and literacy. The team scheduled a follow-up discussion for July to discuss the details of the training and plans for building a comprehensive, sustained approach to supporting districts with their EL population. During June, SECC Program Associate Debra Meibaum communicated and met with the state director of MDE’s Office of Special Education to discuss SECC’s participation in the upcoming Special Education Task Force meeting, to be held July 1 in Jackson.

May

SECC Program Associate Heidi Goertzen and staff from the MDE Title III office have scheduled a time in June to begin planning for support and technical assistance related to English learners. In early May, MDE Title III staff attended the English Learner Readiness Matters convening in Atlanta, Georgia, which was cohosted by the National Council of La Raza, the Hunt Institute, and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). MDE staff plan to integrate outcomes from that convening with the work and technical assistance provided by SECC. As noted in last month’s update, SECC participated in an MDE special education work session, facilitated by SERRC, on April 29–May 1. The focus of the work on May 1 was the continuation of the previous 2 days’ discussion of a new special education monitoring system and the identification of Mississippi’s State-Identified Measurable Results (SIMR) for Children with Disabilities. Additionally on May 21–22, SECC and MDE special education staff participated in the first work session of the Alabama-Mississippi State Community of Practice, during which MDE and Alabama State Department of Education staff members shared information on key state initiatives.

April

Heidi Goertzen, SECC program associate, and partner staff from AIR discussed with MDE staff that a planning session for technical assistance would be more effective once MDE staff have had the opportunity in early May to attend a convening entitled, Readiness Matters: State Collaboration for Success. This convening, which is being cohosted by the National Council of La Raza, the Hunt Institute, and the Southern Regional Education Board, will facilitate conversations within state teams that ensure English learners in their states are prepared for success in college and careers. State teams will share goal setting and next steps as outcomes from this convening. SECC participated in an MDE special education work session, facilitated by SERRC, April 29–May 1. Day 1 focused on reviewing the MDE’s current special education monitoring system, identifying key components of a new results-focused monitoring system, and determining alignment with the U.S. Department of Education’s emphasis on results-driven accountability. Day 2 consisted of a meeting with the MDE’s Special Education Directors Work Group, during which an overview of the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) was provided. Data analysis and infrastructure analysis were reviewed, and stakeholder input on the State-Identified Measurable Results (SIMR) for Children with Disabilities was gathered. Discussion on a new monitoring system and identification of Mississippi’s SIMR continued on Day 3.

March

Heidi Goertzen, SECC program associate, and partner staff from AIR scheduled a follow-up meeting with MDE Title III staff for early April to discuss next steps for supporting the department with Title III AMAO work. During AMAO regional trainings conducted in late February, the team targeted areas of need for providing technical assistance to districts. These topics are planned for discussion at the next meeting. The MDE/SERRC/SECC conference call was conducted March 11. Participants included three MDE SPED staff members, two SERRC staff members, and two SECC staff members. During the call, SERRC/SECC technical assistance roles were identified, upcoming State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) milestones were discussed, and the timeline for SERRC/SECC feedback on Mississippi’s SSIP work to date was established. Following the call, SERRC and SECC staff reviewed the State Performance Plan (SPP)/Annual Performance Report (APR) SSIP Data Analysis documentation and provided written feedback to the MDE on March 14.

February

Staff from SECC staff and its partner, AIR, cofacilitated a work session entitled Developing the Title III AMAO District Improvement Plan with MDE Title III staff. The team conducted regional training in Oxford, Jackson, and D’Iberville for school districts not meeting AMAOs (annual measurable achievement objectives) and introduced districts to continuous improvement processes for serving English learners (ELs). Districts were able to set language goals, analyze data related to ELs, self-assess their current processes and practices, and determine possible research-based strategies for improving their programs. In addition to facilitating these work sessions, staff at MDE provided expectations regarding the Title III District Improvement Plans and offered continued support to districts in attendance. On February 13, a planning conference call between SERRC and SECC was conducted. During the call, staff brainstormed potential SSIP technical assistance to be provided to the MDE, staff assignments, and next steps to move the special education work forward. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, the February 28 MDE/SERRC/SECC conference call was postponed until March 2014. Staff from SECC met with the MDE SPED (special education) director on February 20 to discuss the status of the SSIP work. During the meeting, March 4 was identified as the date for the joint collaborative conference call.

January

Staff from SECC and its partner, AIR, co-planned a professional development workshop scheduled for February 26–28 for districts that are required to develop a Title III Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAO) District Improvement Plan. The team discussed logistics and developed a planning timeline leading up to the training. Weekly conference calls were scheduled for planning and collaboration. On January 16, SECC staff met with the Mississippi SPED director to discuss the possibility of a January MDE/SERRC/SECC meeting. Follow-up MDE/SERRC/SECC conversations determined that it would be best to postpone the January meeting until spring to allow MDE additional time to work on Phase 1 of Mississippi’s State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP). On January 30, SECC staff again followed up with the SPED director regarding potential SECC/SERRC technical assistance with the SSIP. An MDE/ SERRC/SECC conference call was scheduled for February 28. In preparation for the February 28 call, SERRC and SECC staff will participate in a February 13 conference call to continue collaborative planning to provide technical assistance to the MDE.

2013

December

In preparation for the January 2014 MDE/SERRC/SECC meeting, SECC staff reviewed special education services provided to the MDE in 2013. Staff from SECC and its partner, AIR, shared a sample outline of an AMAO training with MDE staff for school districts that do not meet state established targets. The team determined the need to plan for a day-long training for districts and made plans to discuss the training in greater detail in January 2014.

November

On November 12, SECC and SERRC discussed next steps for Year 2 work. Staff from SERRC and SECC will collaborate their efforts to provide technical assistance to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), with SERRC acting as the special education (SPED) connection and SECC as the general education connection. On November 14, SECC staff discussed with Dr. Myers, SPED director, future technical assistance in the form of SERRC/SECC collaborating with MDE on OSEP's new State Systemic Improvement Plan and with the coordination of MDE's special education/general education work. Dr. Myers identified January 2014 as the best time for SERRC and SECC to contact him to initiate plans for future technical assistance. SECC also continued its contacts with the Office of Special Education regarding information on occupational courses of study in Mississippi for an Information Request from a state department of education served by SECC. The MDE SPED staff provided Mississippi’s response to the topic. Staff at MDE requested support from SECC staff with a Title III AMAO training at the MDE Title III conference this spring. As part of planning and preparing, the teams discussed the need to review the MDE Title III AMAO Accountability Plan before their follow-up discussions in December.

October

The SECC corresponded with the Office of Special Education to obtain information on occupational courses of study in Mississippi for an Information Request from a state department of education served by SECC. The MDE is exploring the topic and will respond by November 8. The SECC staff and its partner, AIR, are planning next steps for assisting MDE with Title III initiatives pending the MDE’s internal authorization to proceed with the plan. As such, SECC and AIR will support MDE with professional development and technical assistance to build LEA capacity in serving English learners.

September

The MDE reviewed the SECC/SERRC Year 1 work summary and the Year 2 work plan sent by SECC and SERRC. The MDE will contact SECC and SERRC when it is ready to move forward with the collaborative work to meet the needs of Mississippi’s diverse learners. Staff from SECC and its partner, American Institutes for Research (AIR), worked with the MDE Title III coordinator to meet Mississippi’s English learner (EL) technical assistance (TA) requests. An email with notes from the August 7 meeting and a list of pending deadlines was sent to the Title III coordinator. She responded with an update of the internal process indicating that she is meeting internally to obtain the authorization to proceed with the plan to continue supporting MDE with four projects discussed during the meeting: (a) a training workshop for districts needing improvement on meeting AMAOs; (b) publication of a newsletter providing information on time-sensitive information to LEAs; (c) a state-level symposium to support the knowledge base of teachers working with EL students; and (d) support in updating MDE’s EL guidelines. A SECC/AIR meeting took place on September 9 to follow up on the plan drawn together with the Title III coordinator during the meeting at MDE in August.

August

On August 9, SECC and SERRC met with the Mississippi Department of Education’s new special education (SPED) director to discuss the collaborative work completed in January–March 2013. This work included a review of the local education agency application packet for IDEA funds and internal review procedure, codevelopment of a concise two-page executive summary summarizing the federal guidance for restraint and seclusion, and a review of an MDE needs assessment summary document to help the MDE identify gaps and recommend expert trainers and resources for 2013–2014. As requested, SECC’s revised proposed Mississippi Year 2 Work Plan was submitted to the SPED director so that he could explore the connection to future work to meet the needs of Mississippi's diverse learners. SECC staff and its partner, AIR, worked with the MDE Title III coordinator to meet Mississippi’s English Learner (EL) technical assistance (TA) requests. An SECC/AIR partner conference call was conducted on August 2 to review the EL TA requests as specified in Mississippi’s Year 2 Work Plan. In preparation for the next face-to-face meeting, SECC staff compiled and emailed to the MDE an update on Year 1 projects and Year 2 requests, as well as notes from previous meetings. SECC and AIR partner staff met on August 6 to plan and prepare materials for the August 7 meeting with the Title III coordinator. During the August 7 meeting, SECC, AIR partner staff, and MDE drafted a specific plan to continue supporting MDE with four projects: (a) a training workshop for districts needing improvement on meeting AMAOs, (b) publication of a newsletter providing information on time-sensitive information to LEAs, (c) a state-level symposium to support the knowledge base of teachers working with EL students, and (d) support in updating MDE’s EL guidelines.

July

SECC and the Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC) coordinated in establishing a joint meeting date with Mississippi’s new interim special education director. August 9 was identified as a date mutually convenient to MDE, SERRC, and SECC schedules. SECC staff worked with MDE’s EL coordinator to consolidate MDE/SECC Year 1 technical assistance requests and the Year 2 Work Plan. The MDE EL coordinator and the SECC team set up a meeting for August 6–7 to follow up on Year 1 work and to transition the work to Year 2.

June

On June 18, MDE requested SECC staff to research state use of autism-specific coordinators in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The information was compiled into an Information Request that was emailed to MDE June 24. SECC staff also worked with MDE’s English learner (EL) coordinator to review Year 1 technical assistance requests and to identify potential EL outputs for the MDE/SECC Year 2 Work Plan.

May

MDE and SECC staff communicated regarding a potential autism information request. A MDE staff member will confirm the content of the request and will email SECC when that has been accomplished. SECC staff contacted MDE to confirm potential areas of technical assistance with newsletter development and conference presentations. Due to scheduling conflicts, MDE will explore which areas of technical assistance will be needed for the remainder of Year 1 and will notify SECC when decisions are finalized.

MDE and SECC communicated regarding a potential autism information request. An MDE staff member will confirm the content of the request and will email SECC when that has been accomplished. SECC staff contacted MDE to confirm potential areas of technical assistance with newsletter development and conference presentations. Due to scheduling conflicts, the MDE will explore which areas of technical assistance will be needed for the remainder of Year 1, and will notify SECC when decisions are finalized.

April

On April 17, SECC staff worked with the chairperson of the Mississippi Autism Advisory Council (MAAC) regarding upcoming MAAC meetings, reporting tasks, and timelines. SECC staff also followed-up with MDE on the restraint/seclusion, needs assessment, and project application work previously completed. MDE indicated that no additional assistance is needed at this time. SECC and MDE staff collaborated on narrowing the focus of Mississippi’s requested English learners work. Potential technical assistance topics were discussed. MDE staff will confirm the details and timelines of the targeted work and notify SECC when decisions are finalized. SECC staff updated its RMC and AIR partners and will follow-up with the MDE as needed.

March

On March 11, SECC staff participated in a planning meeting with MDE staff and the chairperson of the Mississippi Autism Advisory Council (MAAC) work to identify opportunities for collaboration. SECC staff also participated in the March 26 MAAC meeting. SECC and SERRC collaborated with the MDE on several special education projects: - Developing a restraint and seclusion summary document and next steps for communicating the document to Mississippi schools and districts (document submitted March 12;) - Reviewing and providing feedback on the procedures and internal review process to improve the project application procedures and directions for IDEA Part B and Preschool applications (review/feedback submitted March 25); - Reviewing the MDE special education needs assessment document to identify gaps and recommend expert trainers and resources (review/feedback submitted March 25) On March 25, SECC program associate, Blanca Quiroz and MDE staff members, Marcus Cheeks and Tarro Funchess, held a conference call and revisited the English learner (EL) projects. MDE staff want to continue with the plan for the training-of-trainers during the summer and will begin the process for internal approval by submitting a narrative of justification to MDE. RMC partner staff assisted with updating the annotated bibliography of EL resources.

February

SECC staff participated in conference calls with MDE staff regarding the Mississippi Autism Advisory Council (MAAC) work. A meeting between MDE, MAAC, and SECC was scheduled for March 11. SECC and SERRC collaboration was initiated on the restraint and seclusion work and the special education document review. Conference calls and written communication resulted in an MDE/SERRC/SECC meeting scheduled for March 12 to develop a plan to move the restraint and seclusion work forward. The SECC Staff and its partners AIR and RMC met with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Title III coordinator to design the specific plan to meet Mississippi’s English Learner (EL) needs in response to MDE’s technical assistance requests. A face to face meeting took place on February 14th and 15th in Jackson MS. The SECC team analyzed MDE’s requests and decided on immediate goals, deliverables and timelines for supporting MDE in meeting the needs of ELs at the state, regional, and school levels. A list of resources for ELs services, including best practices on identification, assessment, instruction, and interventions was provided to MDE during the meeting.

January

SECC staff met with the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Special Education on several occasions to refine Mississippi’s special education technical assistance (TA) requests. The TA requests were grouped into four major areas: Autism Advisory Council, restraint and seclusion work, special education document review and feedback, and the Special Education Directors Work Group. As per MDE’s request, SECC will work with the Autism Advisory Council and the Special Education Directors Work Group. Also, SECC will collaborate with SERRC on the restraint and seclusion work and the special education document review and feedback. Conference calls between SECC and SERRC to collaborate on the restraint and seclusion work and the special education document review TA requests were conducted January 4 and 24. Collaborative work plans were developed and work was initiated. SECC staff initiated MDE contacts for the restraint and seclusion work. SECC staff also attended the Mississippi Autism Advisory Council meeting on January 29, 2013. SECC staff and its partners, AIR and RMC, worked with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Title III coordinator to initiate planning to meet Mississippi’s English Learner (EL) technical assistance (TA) requests. Conference calls were conducted on January 14th and 28th. Staff compiled and emailed information on annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) to the Title III coordinator for use with an upcoming statewide webinar. On-site TA was scheduled for February 14-15, 2012. EL resources were compiled in preparation for the February technical assistance.