A is for Accountability
At a recent IDEA Leadership Conference, Melody Musgrove (Director of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services [OSERS]) quoted U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who challenged the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to advance “from being a compliance-driven bureaucracy to being an engine of innovation to improve results for students with disabilities.” The CEEDAR Center’s technical assistance (TA) to states reflects this charge—the “A” in CEEDAR stands for Accountability. The CEEDAR Center embodies OSEP’s theory of action, which includes the following tenets: leadership, collaboration, TA, and accountability. Even more important, the CEEDAR Center’s TA approach aligns with the Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) approach (see this archived presentation for more information about RDA). The CEEDAR Center’s systemic approach hinges on leadership and collaboration. As we shared in the February 2014 newsletter, our CEEDAR Center staff comprises more than 25 members in seven states. Additionally, we partner with major organizations, including the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and centers throughout the Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA&D) Network. At the state level, we support multilevel teams to improve professional learning systems for teachers and leaders while providing products and services to build capacity within the state. For more information about our leadership, collaboration, and coordination activities, see the February 2014 newsletter feature. CEEDAR Center staff members are actively providing three levels of TA (i.e., intensive, targeted, and universal). We have selected five states through a competitive process to partner in intensive TA. These states have agreed to review and improve their (a) licensure and certification standards to support reformed programs, (b) teacher and leader preparation and ongoing professional development, (c) evaluation systems to strengthen preparation, and (d) capacity for scaling up. The CEEDAR Center team will, in an ongoing effort, develop products and provide various services to assist states with these improvements. States that are not involved in intensive TA can also make requests for targeted TA and short-term assistance. Finally, universal TA, which is primarily provided through our newsletter, website, social media, and other dissemination activities, is available to any interested party. The CEEDAR Center team is undertaking necessary work in this era of accountability, which calls for effective teachers, effective leaders, and better outcomes for students with disabilities. Research has shown that outcomes for students improve when an evidence-based, cohesive system for improving educator effectiveness is in place. The CEEDAR Center’s theory of action includes the four fundamentals of such an evidence-based system: (a) a foundation of clearly articulated evidence-based practices (EBP) for general educators, special educators, leaders, and teacher educators; (b) TA&D to support systemic reform and the implementation of EBPs; (c) reformed systems that result from that TA&D; and (d) the teacher, leader, and student outcomes that the TA&D will achieve. As previously mentioned, OSEP’s call for RDA requires a shift from compliance to innovation and accountability for improving student outcomes. The CEEDAR Center’s TA supports states in demonstrating RDA through purposeful alignment in the following ways: The CEEDAR Center has quickly established a national presence for those interested in educator professional learning, accountability, and reform related to educating students with disabilities. As states are held to RDA, we are held to being “an engine of innovation” to enhance professional learning systems by providing effective TA to states.