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