Something to Consider: Good Enough?

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

As I finalize the 2015 Annual Performance Report (APR) for CT’s SPDG, I am engaging in both personal and professional reflection regarding, what is “good enough”? For the 2014 APR, we reported 27% (9/34) of participating schools had proportionate representation of students of color with major office discipline referrals (ODRs). For the purposes of this measure, “students of color” is defined by the racial categories of Black, Hispanic, and Multi-Racial. Proportionate representation occurs when the percentage of ODRs that are received is equal to or lower than the percentage of all students of color. For example, if students of color represent 25% of the student population, then they should represent no more than 25% of the ODRs issued within a school year.

For the 2015 APR, we are reporting 51% (22/43) of participating schools with proportionate representation. At first, I was pleased to evidence that we had almost doubled the rate of last year, but my second thought was this isn’t “good enough”. We need to be doing something different to support the other 50% of schools who are experiencing disproportionate behavioral infractions being imposed on, particularly male, students of color.

As I did my research, this “trend” is not unique to CT’s SPDG, but is something districts across the state as a whole, as well as states throughout the nation are struggling with and being held accountable for. The attached article was shared with me by a colleague. It synthesizes what we need to consider as the rationale for the disparity in office referrals by race and suggests evidence-based strategies to “turn the curve”. I am hopeful that those who follow my blog will read it thoroughly and post your reflections/ promises here as to the actions you will take as a result of your new learning.

Article: How Educators Can Eradicate Disparities in School Discipline: A Briefing Paper on School-Based Interventions

Something to Consider: Isolating Gender

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

isolating gender

Did you know…

  • In the 2011-2012 school year, males in CT were suspended/expelled at about twice the rate as females?
  • From the 2007-2008 to 2010-2011 school years, there were more than twice as many male students with disabilities in CT K-12 than females?
  • From 2010-2013, males outperformed females in Mathematics and Science and females outperformed males in Reading and Writing on 3rd grade CMT and 10th grade CAPT, with the most significant gap in Writing with trend of 17% more females at/above goal?
  • Trends in four-year graduation rates from 2010-2013 show we are graduating more females than males?

When I recognized the different learning experiences of my own sons and daughter, I became more aware of how these differences are evidenced across racial/ethnic categories and in various districts in my professional work. There are two school stories I’d like to highlight in particular, as they used this type of data to inform and change the educational experience for the young men they serve.

One suburban middle school principal recognized that many of his young men were getting rambunctious toward the end of lunch and the frequency of discipline referrals during this time was increasing. To interrupt this pattern, he started taking a handful of boys to the gym to play basketball for the last 15 minutes of period before returning to class.

Another intermediate school principal recognized the declining writing performance of his young boys. He approached his literacy coach to assist him in organizing an all boys’ writing club two days a week after school. In this club, boys are permitted and encouraged to write about topics of interest and taught the mechanics of editing and revising. It is now a permanent club at the school with rotating membership each semester.

In your experience, how does boys’ learning experience differ from girls? What might be some of the reasons our boys are losing ground in school? What impact do these outcomes specifically have on young men of color? What implications do these outcomes have on the future of our society as a whole? How can we use academic and behavioral data to adapt classroom learning environments to better suit learning needs of males and females?

I am eager to learning more about how educators are eliminating the gender gap in their schools. Please find space below to share your personal stories and experiences.

Published: January 22, 2015

Something to Consider: “The Power of Believing You Can Improve” TED Talk by Carol Dweck

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

When working with school teams to establish a multi-tiered system of support, I am often asked about my learning philosophy. I receive questions like, “Do you believe nature or nurture has more to do with student success?”, “Do you really believe students with disabilities can achieve grade level standards?”, “Do you think we can make a difference for children who are challenged every day by their life experiences outside of school?”

In response, I find myself vulnerable and expose both personal and professional stories about when teachers have made a difference in the life of a child. In reflecting on what was common in each of these learning situations, a colleague shared the attached video with me. I thought it was relevant to share given the time of year, as we reflect and renew our commitment to the children and families we serve.

Please take the time to review this 10 minute video and think about: How would teaching and learning change if we focused on building a “bridge to yet”? How might this type of change influence our school culture/our personal and collective “mindset” about ability and intelligence? How might a growth mindset decrease the effects of “stereotype threat and academic disidentification” for students of color (

I am thankful to Carol Dweck for synthesizing her research for this TED Talk so succinctly. I also continue to take pride in CT’s SPDG for supporting participating school leadership teams to engage in this important dialogue as we strive to establish learning environments where every child can experience success. After reviewing the video, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and how it influenced you

Published: December 19, 2014

Something to Consider: “Start with Why” TED Talk by Simon Sinek

Submitted by Michelle LeBrun-Griffin, Project Coordinator

As someone who has been involved with SRBI since its inception in CT, I am often asked, “Why SRBI?”. I find myself explaining the similarities and differences between RTI and SRBI, where SRBI language sits in both ESEA and IDEA, and referring people to the overview section (pages 13-21) of the SRBI document that clearly articulates the underlying principles of CT’s SRBI Framework.

However, after reviewing this video, I am reminded that my messaging needs to change. It needs to reflect the original purpose, cause, and belief that inspired us to look at a multi-tiered system of support as a means for every child to achieve high standards and graduate college and career ready.

Please take the time to review this 5 minute video and think: What if we acted from the inside out? What if, as we strive to implement SRBI with fidelity, we stay true to our focus on equity? How would this change our behaviors and educational decisions? If we kept equity at the center, how would what we say to and do for the children and families we serve be different?

Like Simon Sinek, I am optimistic that CT’s SPDG has afforded us the opportunity to engage in this dialogue with participating schools and to take the lead on creating learning environments where every child can experience success. After reviewing the video, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and how it influenced you.

Published: October 20, 2014