Partnering with the Idaho State Department of Education (ISDE) to:
Create a “Condition of Education” Report
ISDE’s leaders have asked us to help create a comprehensive report on the condition of education in Idaho. The report will align with Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s strategic goals and provide information to ISDE, the Legislature, and other stakeholders about the strengths and needs of education in Idaho. Through the development of the report, ISDE staff members will examine alignment of their activities, objectives, and evidence of progress.
Deepen English Learner Students’ Understanding of Academic Content
More than 16,000 English learner students (the majority of whom speak Spanish as a primary language) attend Idaho schools. Supporting English learner students is one of ISDE’s priorities, and we are providing resources that align with this work. Specifically, we have developed an evidence-based guide—and we will be providing trainings—to equip educators with research-based strategies to help English learner students in grades K–8 develop the academic content and literacy skills they need to succeed in school.
Improve Intermediate Literacy
Statewide, the highest percentage of schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement are intermediate and middle schools. By request, we have developed training materials to help educators use evidence-based practices to increase the reading ability and engagement of students in grades 4–8. Idaho coaches, regional school improvement coordinators, and capacity builders are being trained as facilitators so that they, in turn, can deliver the trainings to school employees throughout Idaho.
Revise the Idaho Content Standards
We are collaborating with ISDE to develop what will become a recurring process to review and revise state academic standards for English language arts, math, and science. The process includes forming and facilitating workgroups that comprise teachers, administrators, families, and other community members charged with tasks such as reducing redundancies, simplifying language, and prioritizing concepts.
Support Positive Learning Environments
We are partnering with stakeholders on a series of projects that will support Idaho administrators and educators in creating positive learning environments. These projects will draw on research literature and best practices related to developmental psychology, social and emotional development, and trauma-informed schools. The projects will also develop greater capacity within ISDE to support the needs of educators, students, and families. Through this work, we will help create processes and materials that ensure alignment with Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s vision for Idaho students.
Partnering with the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) to:
Develop a Framework for Revising Administrative Rules
We are helping OPI develop a framework to revise chapters of the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM). Currently, state education leaders are reviewing and revising three ARM chapters related to educator preparation: standards of accreditation (Chapter 55), educator licensure (Chapter 57), and professional educator preparation program standards (Chapter 58). The facilitation framework we are co-developing includes the examination of context (mindset, process, and background), beliefs (priority and culture), and evidence-based practices.
This work will result in recommended revisions to the professional educator preparation program standards, which will be submitted to the Legislature in November 2022 and implemented in July 2023. As noted by OPI members, COVID-19 has changed how schools look and function. Revising these chapters at this time provides an opportunity to make compelling, future-looking recommendations that are grounded in research and ensure the needs of Montana’s current and future students are met.
Support Students' Emotional Development
One of OPI’s four key initiatives, Montana Hope, is a whole-child approach to education that prioritizes students’ emotional development and well-being. Through this initiative, we are helping OPI develop a set of social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies, which will be part of a multi-tiered system of supports—along with equity and trauma-informed practices. We will also help create a guide, as well as professional learning opportunities, for educators and families to support the implementation of SEL competencies.
Collaborating for Rural Innovation and Student Engagement
Rural educators do critical work, but they often do it alone—without access to professional development or collaborative learning opportunities. With our support, the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) Network convenes teachers and leaders from some of the most isolated and remote communities in the region to learn from one another, share strategies, and spread best practices.
Developing Summer Learning and Enrichment Strategies
The Summer Learning & Enrichment Collaborative is a professional learning community focused on building effective plans to support learning recovery for students, especially those who are disadvantaged and have been most affected by the pandemic. As part of the Collaborative, Region 17 CC will help state and district staff in Idaho and Montana identify and implement high-quality, evidence-based summer learning and enrichment strategies that address students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic development.
Improving Outcomes for Native American Students
We are collaborating with the Indian Education directors in Idaho and Montana, as well as other state-level staff members, to support culturally responsive education and positive outcomes for Native students. This work includes improving consultation among tribes, states, and districts to ensure tribes have a thorough opportunity to provide input and advice regarding the education of their citizens. We are also helping states improve coordination across all state education agency programs to ensure Native education is a shared, cross-agency priority.
Working with Comprehensive Centers Nationwide
We are engaged in collaborative efforts with the national Comprehensive Center Network to address high-leverage challenges related to literacy, outcomes for Native youth, and diversifying the educator workforce that span Region 17 and other regions across the country.