Roots, Reality, Reboot: Transforming (Special) Education to Advance Equity and Learning

District Case Studies (IV)

Ganley, P. & Ralabate, P. (2013). UDL Implementation: A tale of four districts. National Center on Universal Design for Learning. Available at http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/ FourCaseStories3.13.13_mo.pdf

These case studies highlight four districts—Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Indiana, Cecil County Public Schools in Maryland, and Chelmsford Public Schools in Massachusetts—that implemented universal design for learning (UDL) district-wide through a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded project. While each district approached the implementation of UDL in a distinctive way, the authors find that there were common strategies that encouraged district buy-in and developed staff capacity. These included integrating UDL with other district initiatives, leveraging professional learning communities to ensure implementation success, and modeling UDL at all levels of professional development activities. The four districts also report shared implementation challenges, like dealing with “initiative overload” and using technology to enhance student learning, and offer advice to districts interested in the applying the UDL model district-wide. Recommendations include creating a UDL facilitator position in the district, allowing sufficient time for purposeful professional development and planning, and establishing metrics to continuously measure district progress.

Devaney, L. (2011, September 20). Reinventing education, revisited. eSchool News: Technology News for Today’s K-12 Educator. Available at http://www.eschoolnews.com/files/2011/09/eSNSpecRptINTEL.pdf

This article describes the changes to technology and instruction that San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) initiated in 2008-09 to give all students an engaging, technology-rich education. One of the fundamental programs that enabled the district to make this shift was the i21 Interactive Classroom Initiative (i21), funded by a $2.1 billion bond for education technology. The program is a set of instructional tools intended to facilitate engaged, differentiated instruction that supports interactive learning between students and teachers. The tools include professional development for teachers on using technology to support instruction in their classrooms, student laptops, white boards, and audio-visual equipment. Results after three years of implementation have been positive, with teachers reporting increased student engagement and enthusiastic responses to lessons. SDUSD attributes this early success to strong leadership, transparent communication, maintaining consistency with the program despite changing technology, and investing in teacher development around the newly adopted technology tools. Challenges to implementation have included significant budget reductions and an ever-evolving technology landscape. Moving forward, SDUSD will continue district-wide implementation of i21 and will share results with other schools systems across the country.