Projects 2017 – 2018

Alabama English Learners

In this project, the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) is collaborating with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to collect stakeholder feedback for refining the state’s EL professional development (PD) plan. The SECC is supporting the Title III and EL staff with resources and tools designed to measure the effectiveness of PD it provides to local education agencies (LEAs).

Technical Assistance Approach
  • English Learner Professional Development Plan
  • Performance Management System
Impact
  • Improved organizational structures and processes
  • Improved knowledge and skills
  • Improved processes of districts and schools to positively impact EL student learning  
  • Increased effective implementation of evidence-based instructional and programmatic processes for ELs
Project State(s)

Project Updates

Most Recent Update: 2018 | September

The Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) team met in Montgomery to discuss its Year 7 project work, including the milestones and timelines. The SECC staff explained that the Year 7 project will be a continuation of the Year 6 project. During the meeting, the team reviewed the Year 6 Work Plan and discussed the steps needed to complete the professional development plan. The SECC team followed up to the meeting with an email that included a timeline for completing the English Learner (EL) Professional Development (PD) Plan, an infographic that details the various state support activities and a stakeholder survey. These artifacts will be shared with stakeholders to facilitate collecting their feedback. The project team adjusted the timeline for completing this work by the middle of October.

The SECC and Title III team from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) will coordinate to complete the EL PD Plan, the infographic, and stakeholder survey so that they are ready to disseminate to EL stakeholders by mid- to late-October.

As evidence of progress, during the face-to-face meeting in September, the Title III specialist demonstrated readiness with developing and implementing performance management tools to measure the success of the statewide support system for serving ELs. As such, she noted the importance of knowing the extent to which educators are implementing what they learn at state-sponsored technical assistance and professional development events. Developing performance management tools is a key milestone for this project in Year 7.

 

Previous Updates:

The Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) team met in Montgomery to discuss its Year 7 project work, including the milestones and timelines. The SECC staff explained that the Year 7 project will be a continuation of the Year 6 project. During the meeting, the team reviewed the Year 6 Work Plan and discussed the steps needed to complete the professional development plan. The SECC team followed up to the meeting with an email that included a timeline for completing the English Learner (EL) Professional Development (PD) Plan, an infographic that details the various state support activities and a stakeholder survey. These artifacts will be shared with stakeholders to facilitate collecting their feedback. The project team adjusted the timeline for completing this work by the middle of October.

The SECC and Title III team from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) will coordinate to complete the EL PD Plan, the infographic, and stakeholder survey so that they are ready to disseminate to EL stakeholders by mid- to late-October.

As evidence of progress, during the face-to-face meeting in September, the Title III specialist demonstrated readiness with developing and implementing performance management tools to measure the success of the statewide support system for serving ELs. As such, she noted the importance of knowing the extent to which educators are implementing what they learn at state-sponsored technical assistance and professional development events. Developing performance management tools is a key milestone for this project in Year 7.

Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) project staff met with the Title III director to discuss next steps for collecting stakeholder feedback. The Title III director was interested in working with SECC to develop an infographic that included the same information as the English Learner (EL) Professional Development (PD) plan with the intent to share it with stakeholders as a strategy for collecting feedback.

In September, SECC will continue to support the state Title III staff with developing and finalizing its artifacts (infographic and EL PD plan document) so that it can share them with stakeholders to collect their feedback.

As with all current projects, the SECC state liaison shared updates on this project during the Year 7 planning meeting, and the leadership team expressed concern with pockets of high-density EL populations in need of support, which has resulted in the continuation of the work through Year 7 so the project staff can complete the remaining project milestones.

SECC project staff consolidated and returned the state’s files that describe how it supports its stakeholders and English learners (ELs) through its technical assistance and professional development (PD) initiatives. The Title III coordinator and her team made respective revisions to the consolidated document.           

SECC will be developing a draft of the stakeholder feedback survey to share with the Title III coordinator. This draft will serve as a framework for generating survey items that will collect information needed to refine and augment its current support system. As such, SECC will support the Title III coordinator with developing survey questions as it relates to state context.          

Through this ongoing process of documenting, revising, and consolidating the current EL PD support system, the state Title III team is increasing its understanding of strategies for gaining stakeholder feedback so that it can enhance and improve its current approach. For example, at the beginning of Year 6, there was no documentation of the state’s comprehensive support system it provides to districts, schools, and classroom teachers; rather, various sources of documentation existed to describe services. Now, that the state is closer to having an EL PD plan in place, it can begin collecting stakeholder input.

SECC staff met via conference call with the Title III coordinator at the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to discuss feedback they provided on documents that detail how the state supports its districts and schools that serve English learners (ELs). Meeting outcomes included the need to consolidate the different documents to form one file, which will serve as the first draft of the state’s EL professional development (PD) plan and the need to begin developing the stakeholder feedback survey.   

In July, the SECC team will consolidate the state’s files (that describe how it supports its stakeholders) and will return the document to the state in early July to make needed revisions. In the meantime, SECC will be developing a draft of the stakeholder feedback survey to share with the ALSDE Title III coordinator. This draft will serve as a framework for generating survey items that will collect information needed to refine and augment the state’s current support system. As such, SECC will support the Title III coordinator with developing survey questions as they relate to state context.           

As evidence of improvement, the ALSDE Title III coordinator is increasing her understanding of gaining stakeholder feedback. For example, through conversations with the SECC team, she is more aware of the need to include all information describing the current support system within the five documents she has compiled as part of the project tasks. By developing this comprehensive picture and presenting it to stakeholders, they will have a better understanding of how the state currently supports all systems, and the state will be able to collect more accurate data/feedback.

 

The state Title III specialist’s task from previous meetings was to compile descriptions of its current English learner (EL) support system into one document so that it could be shared with stakeholders for feedback and input. During the April conference call with the state Title III specialist, the project team reviewed and discussed the consolidation of the state’s EL Professional Development (PD) plan. Feedback from SECC was to capture more details of the EL coaches’ role so that it could be fully described in the plan. Additionally, the team codeveloped and disseminated a PD evaluation survey of the state’s School Assistance Meeting for Understanding English Learners (SAMUEL) II spring 2018 training. In addition, they skimmed through numerous open-ended responses, noting those that stood out. SECC staff and the Title III specialist plan to analyze emerging themes related to the open-ended responses before meeting again in the month of May.

SECC staff shared a REL Northeast and Island resource entitled Planning for High-Quality Evaluation of Professional Learning: Understanding the Data in the Evaluation Planning Process. This will be one of the resources used to help inform the evaluation design for the state’s English learner (EL) professional development (PD) plan. Additionally, the SECC project team met with the Title III specialist at the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to determine steps needed for preparing an online survey for stakeholder feedback of the state’s EL PD plan. The Title III specialist will consolidate documents that describe the state’s EL PD support system so stakeholders can access the current PD plan in one source. These descriptions are currently found in the state’s guidance manual, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, and event calendars/PD flyers. Furthermore, the Title III specialist emailed three training presentations called SAMUELs—school assistance meeting for understanding ELs—to SECC staff for review and support with developing evaluation survey questions. During the conference call with the Title III specialist, the team developed a timeline for the first 2 weeks in April to develop an online survey for dissemination to participants.

In April, the Title III specialist will have the current consolidated EL PD plan prepared and will share it with state leadership and the SECC project team so they can begin reviewing it and working on questions for feedback for stakeholders. The team will disseminate an online survey in early April to participants of the Samuel II trainings. Survey questions will explore how teacher participants are implementing strategies and concepts learned at Samuel II.

In February, SECC will consult with the state assistant superintendent to determine if funding is available for convening a stakeholder committee. Additionally, SECC project staff will be collecting resources to share with the stakeholder committee that can help increase knowledge and awareness needed for developing an effective approach to supporting educators serving English learner (EL) students. SECC will schedule a meeting for late February or early March with state Title III staff to begin planning for work session activities to be delivered to the EL stakeholder committee. In communication with the assistant superintendent at the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), the SECC project team determined that it would need to select a different strategy for gaining stakeholder input for refining the state’s current English Learner Professional Development (EL PD) plan, as funding is not available to convene stakeholders. SECC staff determined that they could support the state with developing an online survey for stakeholders in addition to providing resources and tools on effective PD evaluation practices.

In January, SECC staff and state Title III staff will meet at the ALSDE in Montgomery to begin planning for activities and tasks related to the project. SECC staff met with the Title III staff at the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) in early January to discuss the state’s current approach to supporting districts and schools that serve English learners (ELs). The group also discussed some constraints and possible strategies for convening EL stakeholders.

In early December, SECC will schedule another meeting with the ALSDE Title III specialist to discuss the performance management tools. SECC staff held a conference call meeting with the ALSDE Title III specialist and director. Thereafter, SECC staff sent resources related to professional development (PD) and English learners (ELs). These resources included the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northeast and Island’s webinar, Using Cost Analysis to Inform Decisions About Professional Learning, and the REL Southeast’s infographic, Improving Instruction through Professional Learning Communities. These resources may be informative for stakeholder input and the development of the state EL Plan. Additionally, the Title III director described how the state’s current support system processes work, who currently constitutes EL stakeholders, and the need for developing performance management tools.

In November, SECC staff sent out a poll to reschedule the initial state planning meeting. Dates were listed as provided by the Title III/English as a second language (ESL) specialist. In early November, SECC held a kick-off meeting with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) Title III specialist. The group rescheduled the date for the next face-to-face stakeholder meeting and suggested cohosting virtual stakeholder meetings for teacher stakeholders who cannot miss more than two professional development (PD) leave days. Additionally, the group discussed how SECC would co-develop evaluation tools for measuring performance management for PD processes and their preliminary use for pilot testing if applicable. The project team changed the milestone timeline to January 15, 2018. Further, the group added a new milestone “Revised Performance management tools for professional development processes (after pilot test)”. Finally, the group discussed the EL Plan draft and final copy as part of the stakeholder committee outcomes. In late November, the SECC project lead met virtually with executive leadership at ALSDE to provide an update on progress made with the EL Plan project (as well as the other projects on the Annual Management Plan). In discussing the number of EL stakeholder meetings to have throughout the year, the ALSDE assistant superintendent explained that she would try to seek funding for adding a third meeting. Virtual meetings will be used for teacher stakeholders who cannot be away from schools for more than 2 PD leave days.

The SECC team scheduled a meeting to discuss the Year 6 Work Plan activities but had to reschedule because state staff were unable to attend the meeting. The SECC team met with internal staff during the scheduled state meeting to begin strategizing supports that align with the technical assistance (TA) approach and expected outputs described in the annual management plan.