Leadership for Reform in Ohio- The Ohio Deans Compact (ODC)
Some see education in the United States like the story of Sisyphus—rolling a heavy load up a hill only to see it tumble back down and starting the process anew. Are we destined to backbreaking work with no yield? While pessimists espouse this narrative, educators from all over the great state of Ohio have combined efforts in a collaborative attempt to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
The Ohio Dean’s Compact is a group that is made up of a cross section of stakeholders from all over the state. The Compact’s purpose is to consider how educators can improve Ohio’s system of preparation and ongoing personnel development so that all general and special educators, specialists, principals, and others who come through the Ohio education system are better able to support students with disabilities or students from marginalized groups. Ohio’s existing efforts through the Dean’s compact thus align well with CEEDAR’s mission.
The compact has strong leadership to support this work, including ODC Chair Tachelle Banks (Cleveland State University), Project Director Deb Telfer, and Project Assistant Director Jennifer Ottley (both University of Cincinnati). Individuals involved in the Compact include deans and faculty from institutions of higher education (IHE), district partners, association representatives, state officials, and more. From the beginning of our work with the Ohio Deans Compact, CEEDAR has had a distinct advantage going into intensive Technical Assistance.Such a diverse but dedicated group has allowed small gains in certain areas to be leveraged and multiplied in large gains across the state. This is illustrated by the reform efforts that have occurred in OH that are described below.
1) Teacher and Leader Preparation: The Ohio Deans Compact (ODC) has provided incentive grant funding to Ohio IHEs through a competitive process to support the development of inclusive models of educator preparation to prepare all educators to work together to more effectively teach and support all children. These programs are grounded in a commitment to inclusivity, equity, and social justice. A CEEDAR blueprint goal for Ohio is to support the full implementation of inclusive teacher preparation programs in Ohio IHEs with approved programs, as well as those submitting for program approval. Over 25 programs from across the state have received incentive funds to support these program improvement activities. As these programs are developed, they address the ways in which relevant knowledge, skills, and dispositions will be infused into general education coursework (including the Compact’sInclusive Instructional High-leverage Practices and culturally relevant practices), and the strategies used to develop and sustain effective partnerships within the IHE, between the IHE and area school districts, and between the IHE and other partners (e.g., two-year institutions), resulting in graduates who are prepared and ready to meet the instructional needs of all students in inclusive settings, including students with disabilities and BIPOC students.
A second blueprint goal in Ohio is to expand IHE and school district involvement in the development and implementation of higher education/district partnerships. Incentive funding for these simultaneous renewal activities has been provided to 22 programs from across the state to support these activities.The intent of this priority is to support authentic and meaningful university-school district partnerships to promote inclusive models of preparation and personnel development for educators (i.e., teachers, intervention specialists, related services providers, and administrators), improve equitable access to high quality instruction and equitable outcomes for struggling learners, and fund development efforts that support shared inquiry into common problems of practice related to improving results for all learners.
Ohio CEEDAR Blueprint activities also address fostering inclusive leadership capacity through the development of model programs. Applicants for these incentive funds partner with one or more districts that have participated or are participating in the Ohio Leadership for Inclusion, Implementation, and Instructional Improvement (OLi4) to identify and make necessary changes to existing educational leadership preparation programs by infusing core content in inclusive instructional leadership. Incentive funding has been provided to the University of Cincinnati, where faculty from leadership and special education have developed and implemented a model program. In addition to this inclusive leadership work, Ohio has worked collaboratively with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and CEEDAR Center to improve inclusive leadership practices for current administrators as part of the Advancing Inclusive PrincipalLeadership (AIPL) project. The goals of this project are to a) Identify key components and content that should be included in inclusive principal PD across the continuum from preservice to novice to seasoned principals; b) support and disseminate a common set of standard resources aligned to principal leadership standards; c) determine the common gaps, questions and needs for inclusive principal leadership among targeted support schools; and d) coordinate the collaboration across the Ohio Department of Education’s Centers (under the umbrella of school improvement efforts) for the deployment and implementation of targeted supports, based on identified common needs.
2) Certification/Licensure and Program Approval: Recognizing that the existing licensure structures present challenges for educator preparation redesign, the Ohio Deans Compact added a policy committee to the Compact framework to examine licensure/certification and make recommendations to prepare educator preparation in Ohio for a future in which inclusive education prevails. The policy committee includes representation from the Ohio Department ofEducation, Ohio Department of Higher Education, institutions of higher education, and the P-12 public educational sector. This policy committee has successfully addressed issues related to grade bands for certification, and recently worked to develop cross-walks between general and special education program standards that will be used to facilitate the work of IHEs as they seek approval for dual-certification programs. Finally, ODC/CEEDAR have supported IHEs as they have revised program curricula and course syllabi using Innovation Configurations to emphasize inclusive education through the use of high-leverage practices and evidence-based practices.
3) A final blueprint goal addresses diversifying the educator workforce. Currently eleven IHEs have received incentive funding to work toward creating model demonstration sites for making Ohio’s educator workforce more representative of the children and youth it serves. More specifically, these projects each will develop authentic IHE-PK-12 partnerships to create and serve as model demonstration sites for (a) recruiting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) into educator preparation programs; (b) supporting BIPOC candidates throughout their preparation program including providing support to obtain their State Board of Education-issued credential(s) and employment as an educator in an Ohio school district; (c) working with PK-12 partner districts to support new BIPOC educators and retain BIPOC educators in Ohio school districts; and (d) sustaining and scaling partnership efforts to diversify the educator workforce on a regional/multi-regional basis.