What We Do
The Ohio Leadership for Inclusion, Implementation, & Instructional Improvement (OLi4) was developed in collaboration with Ohio school districts that agreed to serve as partners in the design and use of targeted professional development (PD). PD incorporates coaching to foster shared leadership for the full implementation of inclusive instructional practices that improve results for all children, including those who have disabilities and other learning difficulties.
The project provides targeted PD, including technical assistance (TA) and coaching, to (1) build the capacity of school principals to improve results for all students, including students receiving special education services and students with learning difficulties, as part of district- and school-wide improvement; (2) build principal knowledge and skill in the use of distributed or shared leadership models, including the facilitation of building leadership teams (BLTs) and teacher-based teams (TBTs) aligned with the Ohio Improvement Process; (3) identify and support the consistent implementation of specific targeted practices that improve student access to and progress in inclusive educational environments; and (4) collect comprehensive and ongoing needs assessment data and data on the level of inclusive practice and its effects on student outcomes over time.
Comprehensive evaluation of the project’s impact on principal growth and development and its effects on the district’s capacity to continuously improve instruction and student learning, and on the achievement of target student populations provides the project team and leadership of the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children (OEC) with focused feedback for refining the content and delivery of PD over time. Data collected as part of OLi4 evaluation is structured around implementation drivers, particularly in the area of leadership, and is aligned with quality, relevance and usefulness. The project focuses specifically on the role of the principal in districts (i.e., those in improvement status as well as those who have voluntarily elected to use OIP) committed to the system-wide use of structures (e.g., collaborative learning teams) and practices (e.g., monitoring implementation and providing feedback and support) that foster inclusivity and improve the collective capacity of adults at all levels of the district to meet the instructional needs of all children. Regional cadres of principals receive targeted PD that supports them in:
- Focusing and prioritizing core work to establish a strong foundation for improving the quality and rigor of instruction provided to all students.
- Setting the conditions for effective implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the effects of adult actions on student learning and results.
- Building principal capacity for establishing a culture of shared inquiry, learning, and improvement in meeting the needs of all students, with a focus on understanding instructional frameworks [such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS)] that support the full engagement of diverse learners in the instructional process.
Professional Development draws on research in effective adult learning and implementation science to engage participants deeply in the process of identifying and deploying research-based practices to address problems of practice associated with meeting the needs of students with disabilities and learning difficulties in inclusive settings. Learning experiences are structured through a combination of centralized training sessions; ongoing structured and facilitated sessions held on a regional basis to allow for sharing, discussion, and problem solving among principals; and in-school performance leadership coaching.
As a statewide effort, OLi4 seeks to broaden the involvement of collaborative partners by working with the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council, institutions of higher education that receive grants through the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children to restructure administrator preparation programs, and other key partners [e.g., the Ohio Council of Professors of Educational Administration (OCPEA), the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators (OAESA), the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA), and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT)] to inform the development of professional development for principals. Bringing a diversity of perspectives to bear while maintaining an unwavering commitment to developing principal capacity within the context of the existing statewide, systemic improvement process (i.e., OIP-OLAC), reduces fragmentation and duplication, and infuses OLi4 content and improves alignment within and across existing principal professional development efforts. It also contributes to sustainability and scalability of evidence-based practice during and after the grant period.
The Ohio Leadership for Inclusion, Implementation, and Instructional Improvement is primarily supported through a grant with the Ohio Department of Education, Office for Exceptional Children, and Office for Innovation and Improvement. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Ohio Department of Education or Offices within it, and you should not assume endorsement by the Ohio Department of Education.
Cathy Lassiter, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Dominique B. Smith
Brian McNulty and Laura Besser