From the Desk of: Become a PBIS Model School

Attention: all schools in Year 3 or beyond of PBIS! The application window is now open for your school to receive recognition for your exemplary PBIS implementation.

The purpose of the CT PBIS Model Schools Project is to recognize schools for successfully implementing school-wide systems for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Criteria for recognition are based on effective implementation of key features as outlined by the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and are consistent with the outcomes of Connecticut’s School-wide PBIS Training Series.

Learn more and apply here.
Applications are due by February 22, 2016.

From the Desk of: 2015-2016 Scope and Sequence

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

I am excited to share with you next year’s newly formatted Scope and Sequence (as of 5-13-15). It provides information regarding each Phase of Implementation at a glance (see tabs at bottom of Excel workbook), and includes details such as training dates and windows for data collection for the year. We hope this information is timely as you prepare your calendars for 2015-2016. Remember, reserving bi-weekly meeting time for your School Leadership Team is a key ingredient to successful implementation. If you have any questions regarding grant expectations as outlined here, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at

2015-2016 CT SPDG Year At A Glance (MS Excel).

From the Desk of: A Framework for Coherence

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

It’s been a busy two months with CT’s SPDG! As we all gear up for end of year activities and planning for next, I thought it would be timely to share the attached resource entitled, A Framework for Coherence: College and Career Readiness Standards, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, and Educator Effectiveness. It reiterates the importance of coherence to transform schools, and reminds us of the impact of our grant work in improving teaching and learning. Please take the time to scan and share as SRBI/MTSS continues to maintain its momentum, both locally and nationally, as a means for ensuring all students’ experience success.

Published: May 1, 2015

From the Desk of: B-3 and SPDG

Submitted by Don Briere, Ph.D., Project Director, CSDE and Aileen McKenna, B-3 Consultant

A critical partner of CT’s SPDG is the CT Birth-to-Three (Part C) system. All children in B-3 have been determined to be eligible due to either a significant developmental delay or a diagnosed medical condition with a high likelihood of resulting in a developmental delay. The B-3 system focuses on working with families in every school district across the state. to prepare these young children for transition into school. Within the SPDG, B-3’s work has been extended to provide focused training support to staff. This training will assist staff members in recognition of critical indicators that may lead to challenging situations for families (e.g., domestic abuse, substance abuse, mental health issues, parents with intellectual disabilities, poverty, severe socioeconomic stressors, and medically fragile/chronically ill/terminally ill children). During this year of the SPDG, nine focused training/support days will occur where approximately 40 B-3 providers will engage in a learning community. Within each of these days, participants will hear from an expert in the field regarding best practice, resources, and current research. A lecture and focused article review format will allow for content access and follow-up application. Each session will be recorded and posted on the CT SPDG website at

Published: February 10, 2015

From the Desk of: Exciting things in the New Year!

Submitted by Don Briere, Ph.D., Project Director, CSDE and Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

There are exciting things happening with CT’s SPDG in the New Year! We continue to see dedicated work from participating school teams and are eager to share with you a few highlights for the coming months.

As 25 Cohort 2 schools, embark on their final phase of participation with CT’s SPDG, they will be completing their Winter Data Review over the next month to review how systems and practices are supporting effectiveness of core instruction and intervention. This concerted effort will focus on the disaggregate review of data from various data sources to ensure all targets are met by year’s end.

Cohort 3 schools approach the New Year with continued focus on the development of Tier 2 and 3 systems of support. Over the next month, these 21 schools will be taking a closer look at how to maximize instruction for learners with disabilities through their participation in our on-line Standards-Based IEP module.

Cohort 4, our newest cohort of 14 schools, has completed the essential components of school-wide positive behavior support systems. Next month, they will be focusing on how their core literacy practices are accessible for all learners, including how students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are resulting in educational benefit.

In addition, School Leadership Team members from each Cohort have made a full transition to the use of Schoology and the CT SPDG website for immediate access to information, resources, and ongoing communications/updates. As we begin documentation for submission of our Annual Performance Report in April, please check back here to see how CT’s SPDG is impacting student outcomes in participating schools.

Published: February 2, 2015

From the Desk of: Alignment Efforts

Submitted by Don Briere, Ph.D., Project Director, CSDE and Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

At the National SPDG Directors’ Conference in October, we were strongly encouraged to continue exploring coherence of SPDG implementation efforts with School Turnaround (OESE), Results Driven Accountability (OSEP/SSIP), and ESEA Flexibility in order to most efficiently improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Since the conference, the SPDG Management team has reflected on this federal guidance, working to review the various improvement efforts co-occurring across the various Divisions of the CSDE.

Ongoing conversations to align the grant’s efforts with critical work in the state has become paramount. We remain optimistic that our experience with the implementation of SRBI in participating schools, PreK-12, has impact on state efforts to provide quality instruction, coordinated early intervening services, and multi-tiered systems of support. Members of the CT SPDG Project Management Team have regular conversations with colleagues in the CSDE Academic Office regarding SRBI implementation efforts statewide. We continue to take pride in the work of schools participating in CT’s SPDG and are honored that lessons learned from this grant are being used to inform the broad educational landscape in CT. For example, all schools are supported in the development of a comprehensive assessment schedule, including the use of evidence-based universal screening tools adopted by the SBOE in July 2014 as part of the K-3 Reading Legislation (refer to PA 12-116).

Furthermore, Don Briere, CT SPDG Project Director and consultant for the Bureau of Special Eudcation along with Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator and consultant for SERC, have begun working more closely with other CSDE consultants to help inform action planning for the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) as well as the CSDE’s special education focused monitoring efforts.

Another exciting update to share is CT was one of twelve states awarded the School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG) which is a supplemental effort to implement multi-tiered behavior frameworks (a.k.a. PBIS) statewide. The CT SPDG Project Management Team will be working closely with SCTG Team as they expand efforts to improve school climate across the state. We look forward to sharing lessons learned and best practices identified by participating schools using an integrated model of academic and behavior supports. Watch for further information as the SCTG anticipates recruiting new schools for participation in this project beginning at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Published: December 16, 2014

From the Desk of: Reflection & Renewal

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

After a recent SPDG training session, I was validated and re-energized by the members of the school leadership team I was working with. Reciprocally, we left the training ready and eager to use our learning to influence systems change. However, as we returned to our classrooms and offices, each of us quickly found ourselves caught up in the day to day; finding it difficult to apply our new ways of thinking.

During this busy time of year, this scenario sticks out for me. I am reminded that if we stay true to our vision for equity and maintain our focus on the children and families we serve, we will not lose sight of what is most important. This is the perfect time for reflection and renewed commitment to providing every child with a continuum of support reflective of their diverse strengths and needs.

It is my hope that we continue to be inspired by educators in participating SPDG schools who have prioritized their efforts and are collectively making a difference. And, when we feel like we can’t possibly fit one more thing into our day, may we remember: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”

Wishing you peace during this Holiday season! – mlg

Published: December 9, 2014

From the Desk of: SRBI Survey

Submitted by Don Briere, Ph.D., Project Director, CSDE

surveyAs part of our ongoing efforts to communicate with and support educators to increase student achievement, the CSDE has designed a brief survey to gather information regarding the statewide implementation of CT’s Framework for SRBI. The survey focuses on what is happening in schools and districts regarding the use of SRBI to improve student outcomes, particularly: current levels of implementation in academic and behavioral areas; and needs for supports, training, and/or guidance to foster fidelity and effectiveness.

All educators and leaders in CT public schools and districts, invested in improved student outcomes, are encouraged to participate in this on-line survey that should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. It is expected that a high percentage of educators from CT SPDG schools will take the survey to inform the CSDE’s thinking and planning for implementation of multi-tiered systems of support across the state.

The survey can be found at this link.

Published: November 18, 2014

From the Desk of: OSEP National Conference

Submitted by Don Briere, Ph.D., Project Director, CSDE and Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

We had the privilege of representing CT SPDG at OSEP’s 4th Annual National Director’s Conference on October 9 and 10, 2014 alongside our External Evaluator, Rebecca Walker, of Glen Martin Associates. As we participated in various breakout sessions and discussions over the two days, we had the opportunity to share information regarding CT’s programming and implementation efforts, and to learn about some of the great things other states are doing.

Larry Wexler Larry Wexler, Director of the Research to Practice Division, OSEP, opened the conference stating, “The coherence and comprehensiveness of the SPDG sets it apart from other OSEP grants and is something you should take pride in being a part of.”

Key take-aways from this conference that validated our work and gave us new ideas for moving forward include:

  • The importance of triangulating academic and behavioral data to be able to recognize how loss of instructional time (e.g., due to discipline referrals and/or poor attendance) has contributed to students’ current level of performance.
  • Having a protocol/structure for data driven decision-making is a key factor in influencing the changes in classroom practice needed to better meet students’ diverse learning needs.
  • Michelle and Don The use of imagery to send a powerful message we can all relate to. Eric Kloos, Minnesota DOE, stated in order to sustain effective practices that have resulted in improved student outcomes given current frequency and pending changes in administration, we “need to do more to document our implementation history – lessons learned, rationale for decisions made, and outcomes – so we can replicate our successes versus creating “implementation sandcastles that get washed away with each tide.”
  • Maintaining a diverse School Leadership Team was emphasized as a key practice to lever systems-change.
  • The positive influence of parents’ voice to help schools sustain evidenced-base practices. We were reminded, “Getting the community involved supports durability of work as part of school culture vs. principal’s project.”
  • Establishing buy-in is not a one and done or in the moment approach. Rather, it should be a more fluid, ongoing process. Variability in buy-in overtime does not mean system is failing, it is about how we respond to it; all may need is an “implementation oil change” like SPDG.

Finally, David Guardino, Program Lead for Technical Assistance and Dissemination, OSEP, spoke about the importance of coherence of SPDG implementation efforts with School Turnaround (OESE), Results Driven Accountability (SSIP), and ESEA Flexibility for improved results. He simply stated, the work of all offices leads to the following three outcomes:

  1. All students with access to instruction aligned with college and career ready standards;
  2. All states, districts, and schools accountable for raising performance and closing achievement gaps;
  3. All teachers evaluated more accurately to support continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

Who can argue with that! For further information or to access the resources and materials shared at this conference, please refer to

Published: October 14, 2014

From the Desk of: Welcome to our redesigned site

Michelle LeBun-Griffin

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

Welcome to our newly designed website! We are excited to share information with you using this new platform. Some new features will include up-to-date information in “From the Desk Of…”, replicable practices in “In the Spotlight”, and perspectives from technical advisors, educators, and families in “Voices from the Field”.

On September 9th, we kicked off the 2014-2015 school year with a fantastic Leadership Launch for 14 new schools in Cohort 4. District and building administrators learned about the goals and expectations of the grant, as well as, the scope and sequence of training and technical assistance.

Leadership Launch
Leadership Launch

Technical Assistance Providers from SERC and the RESC Alliance worked with their partnering schools to develop a purpose statement and to complete various inventories that will assist in customizing the professional development provided. Participants valued the collaboration time to reflect on school practices, engage in meaningful discussion, and plan for future programming to improve teaching and learning.

A highlight of the day was the keynote presentation by Ellen Cohn, Division Director of the Academic Office for the CSDE. Throughout her presentation, she shared stories of her personal, school-level, and district-level experiences with SRBI. Her messaging was simple, yet optimistic. Ellen referenced the work of Hoy et al (2006) regarding what three organizational properties create positive change and lead to greater student achievement:

  1. academic emphasis of the school,
  2. collective efficacy of the faculty, and
  3. trust in students and parents.
Leadership Launch Group Photo
Somers Elementary and High School
Leadership Teams

Her passion for creating equitable learning environments was evident when she spoke of her experiences at Two Rivers Magnet Middle School. She stated, “SRBI set us free of institutional structures that got in the way of learning.” Ellen spoke of the ongoing SRBI efforts in the state, including the new K-3 Reading Legislation. She hopes the grant will give participating schools “the freedom to solve deep-rooted issues”, recognizing that “if we do what’s right for kids, scores will follow.”

For further information regarding this year’s Leadership Launch, please refer to Cohort 4 Scope and Sequence.

Published: October 1, 2014