Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Area of Focus

Social Sciences

Abstract

Public education in the United States (US) has been called the “great equalizer”. Schools not only intersect with with every family in a school district, they often serve as a locus for community gathering and development: schools are a reflection of the community in which they are situated. Over the past 15 years, academic research and teaching practices have redefined the measure of success in school to include and connect emotional and behavioral learning with academic development. How have state educational agencies (SEAs) supported local schools and districts (LEAs) through this process, while also supporting the unique identities of school communities? How have SEAs accounted for particular and disparate resources between LEAs to truly make schools the “great equalizer”? The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has implemented a model of the tiered Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework in over 250 schools across the state. The Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) provides positive, proactive and preventative behavioral supports to Montana students with the goal of creating a culture of respect in the academic setting. In 2014 OPI was awarded a School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG) from the US Department of Education. School climate refers to the quality and character of school life: it is the nature of interrelationships among the people in the school community. MBI serves as the framework for creating and sustaining positive school climate across the state of Montana. Academic achievement, student attendance and positive school experiences are indicators of a healthy school climate. School climate (as the broad term suggests) can be challenging to assess. It includes collecting and analyzing qualitative data from students, staff and families, as well as documenting trainings and school-based practices. State policies and initiatives, and historical relationships between OPI and individual schools also have an impact on school climate. SCTG identified twelve “high-needs” target schools to implement MBI over the course of the five-year grant period; nine of those schools are located on American Indian reservations. In the first two years of SCTG, OPI has faced challenges to implementation that are particular to Montana: rural and rugged geographies; training and retaining high quality educators and school staff; and cultural differences between evidence-based interventions promoted with MBI, and the public schools on American Indian reservations and education systems in residential youth detention facilities who the interventions are meant to serve. What is the most effective and efficient path toward positive school climate in Montana? The purpose of this project is to document the SCTG process in Montana, identify gaps in implementation, and weave existing research with recent experiences to make recommendations for future grant years. Montana’s SCTG project has the potential to support students across the state through creative capacity-building activities, strategic allocation of resources, and promoting the visions school communities have for their future.

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Apr 14th, 11:00 AM Apr 14th, 12:00 PM

School Climate Transformation Efforts in Montana's Public Schools: State Support of Local Visions for the Future

Public education in the United States (US) has been called the “great equalizer”. Schools not only intersect with with every family in a school district, they often serve as a locus for community gathering and development: schools are a reflection of the community in which they are situated. Over the past 15 years, academic research and teaching practices have redefined the measure of success in school to include and connect emotional and behavioral learning with academic development. How have state educational agencies (SEAs) supported local schools and districts (LEAs) through this process, while also supporting the unique identities of school communities? How have SEAs accounted for particular and disparate resources between LEAs to truly make schools the “great equalizer”? The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has implemented a model of the tiered Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework in over 250 schools across the state. The Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) provides positive, proactive and preventative behavioral supports to Montana students with the goal of creating a culture of respect in the academic setting. In 2014 OPI was awarded a School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG) from the US Department of Education. School climate refers to the quality and character of school life: it is the nature of interrelationships among the people in the school community. MBI serves as the framework for creating and sustaining positive school climate across the state of Montana. Academic achievement, student attendance and positive school experiences are indicators of a healthy school climate. School climate (as the broad term suggests) can be challenging to assess. It includes collecting and analyzing qualitative data from students, staff and families, as well as documenting trainings and school-based practices. State policies and initiatives, and historical relationships between OPI and individual schools also have an impact on school climate. SCTG identified twelve “high-needs” target schools to implement MBI over the course of the five-year grant period; nine of those schools are located on American Indian reservations. In the first two years of SCTG, OPI has faced challenges to implementation that are particular to Montana: rural and rugged geographies; training and retaining high quality educators and school staff; and cultural differences between evidence-based interventions promoted with MBI, and the public schools on American Indian reservations and education systems in residential youth detention facilities who the interventions are meant to serve. What is the most effective and efficient path toward positive school climate in Montana? The purpose of this project is to document the SCTG process in Montana, identify gaps in implementation, and weave existing research with recent experiences to make recommendations for future grant years. Montana’s SCTG project has the potential to support students across the state through creative capacity-building activities, strategic allocation of resources, and promoting the visions school communities have for their future.