The Institute’s National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) was awarded five more years of federal funding in October 2016 through a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Established in 1990 and directed by Martha Thurlow , NCEO provides national leadership in the inclusion of students with disabilities, English learners (ELs), and ELs with disabilities in comprehensive K-12 educational assessment systems. With this new funding NCEO continues its long-standing collaboration with national organizations, including the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. It is also adding new areas of focus and new partners, including AEM Education Services, a leading provider of data management services in education and a division of AEM Corporation, and West Ed, a non-partisan, non-profit educational research, development, and service agency. "We’re looking forward to the expanded focus in the five-year grant that includes working more closely with individual states and positively impacting more students in their schools," says Thurlow.
As part of that work, NCEO collects, analyzes, and shares evidence-based information for policymakers and educators in a number of areas including use of assessments for instructional decision-making, technology-based assessments, and inclusive assessments. Among NCEO’s far-reaching outreach and information sharing work this year were the presentation, “Should Your State Have an Alternate Diploma? Considerations and Recommended Steps” delivered to representatives of all 50 states and 11 unique states at the Federal Programs Meeting in Washington, DC; participating in an independent peer review of states’ plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act; and working with the Council of Chief State School Officers on a research study examining development of an assessment of English language proficiency that is appropriate for English learners with disabilities.
Twenty International Fellows from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and India arrived at ICI in April 2017 for a six-week intensive fellowship program with Minnesota organizations supporting the educational inclusion of children with disabilities. It was part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary Inclusive Education Fellowship Program awarded to ICI’s Global Resource Center on Inclusive Education (GRC) in September 2016. The program develops Fellows’ leadership skills in supporting the educational inclusion of children with disabilities in their home countries. Funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program at ICI is administered by the GRC in collaboration with the University of Minnesota's Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development and Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Partners include Arizona State University's Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation, Bilim Central Asia Education Center in Kazakhstan, Armenian State Pedagogical University in Armenia, National Precarpathian University and the Odessa Development Fund in Ukraine, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India. During their time in Minnesota, Fellows partnered with mentors from 20 local organizations and agencies supporting inclusion of people with disabilities, and spent time in those organizations and agencies learning about their work. "The fellowship program is preparing the next generation of international faculty and trainers in inclusive education,” says Brian Abery , who co-directs the GRC with ICI’s Renáta Tichá . “They will be able to use what they learn to support the wider and more effective implementation of inclusive education in their home countries."
"We're now starting to see the fruition of our U.S. – Russia partnership in the work of the International Institute on Progress Monitoring," says Renáta Tichá . "It has moved from an academic collaboration to actually affecting student lives." She was speaking of the November 2016 meeting between ICI and a delegation of educators and special educators from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, Russian Federation. They traveled to Minnesota to meet with Tichá and Brian Abery , ICI’s co-directors of the International Institute on Progress Monitoring (IIPM) . IIPM, a collaboration between ICI and Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University (KSPU), develops and evaluates progress monitoring tools for students with significant disabilities in both the English and Russian languages. In November, the Russian delegation visited Fraser School, an inclusive early childhood program in Minneapolis, and the Simon Technology Center at PACER, a Parent Training and Information Center, in Minneapolis, to learn about the approaches and technologies used with students with disabilities in inclusive settings in the state.
In the evening, delegates and several members of the Rotary Club in nearby White Bear Lake participated in an online conference with KSPU faculty and students, and other Russian educators, focusing on assessment of students with significant disabilities in the two countries. Presentations included a demonstration by the Russian colleagues of students taking part in the newly developed assessments on touch-screen tablets, using an app developed at ICI. Known as "Monitoring Assessments for determining Necessary General Outcomes (MANGO)," the app works for assessments in Russian, English, and Danish. MANGO enables researchers and teachers to administer the assessments on tablets rather than on laminated cards. "Students with significant disabilities now have access to assessments with which they can successfully interact, and thus provide meaningful information to teachers. It is a strong reminder about why we do this work," says Tichá. IIPM is part of ICI's Global Resource Center for Inclusive Education and is funded by the Eurasia Foundation.