Now that states have common standards for educational assessments which include social emotional goals, the next obvious move for the education reformers is to establish a common system of student and learning supports. The letter below from Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor explains how in order to transform education, it is necessary to adopt a unified system in states to accomplish this change. As shown in the above graphic, the UCLA Center receives federal funding. From an email sent to those on UCLA’s mailing list which explains the 2015 Initiative:
FROM CENTER AT UCLA ‑ 2015 Initiative*
Transformation Requires Unifying –
Not just Integrating Student/Learning Supports
Reports indicate that districts in Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin are moving toward a unified, comprehensive and equitable system of student and learning supports. Others across the country are considering transforming student and learning supports. ~MEW bolded
A Word of Caution
A natural tendency is to think in terms of just “integrating” programs and services (we have heard some references to developing an “Integrated Learning Supports System”). While discussion of such integration is useful and seems like a common sense goal, just focusing on integration is a trap. Limiting the focus to Integrating student/learning supports has little chance of enhancing equity of opportunity for students across the country. Moreover, as practiced, such a minimal emphasis on systemic change can have serious unintended negative consequences.
Of particular concern is that focusing primarily on integration maintains the fragmentation of interventions and does little to reduce the counterproductive competition among those personnel responsible for the various discrete programs and services. And it risks maintaining the marginalization of school/home/community efforts to address learning, behavior, and emotional problems.
The point of moving from a two‑ to a three‑component framework for school improvement is to bring fundamental coherence and end the marginalization of endeavors to address barriers to learning and teaching. That is, adding a learning supports component to the instructional and management components enables (a) unifying all interventions for addressing barriers to learning and teaching and re-engaging disconnected students and (b) unifying the three components of school improvement.
Because transformation of schools is so difficult, it is easy to get side-tracked and to aim for a few changes and a few immediate outcomes. Indeed, the history of school improvement is strewn with quick fixes and even these usually have not be effectively sustained. Without fundamental and sustainable changes, we continue to see a leveling off after a few years of initial gains in achievement scores and reductions in absences and behavior problems.
The goal of the 2015 National Initiative for Transforming Student and Learning Supports is to guide every school toward unifying and then developing a comprehensive and equitable system for addressing barriers to learning and teaching and re-engaging disconnected students. This requires fully implanting a unified learning supports component into school improvement policy and planning. ~MEW bolded
The point is to enhance equity of opportunity for all students to succeed at school and beyond and foster the type of climate that makes schools the heart of their community.
Equity of opportunity is fundamental to enabling civil rights;
transforming student and learning supports is fundamental to
enabling equity of opportunity and promoting whole child development. ~MEW bolded
Making it Happen in Transformative and Sustainable Ways
If you are moving toward transforming student and learning supports, we encourage you to
(1) take some time to go over the resource — Transforming Student and Learning Supports: Developing a Unified, Comprehensive, and Equitable System. (To download it, go to
(2) then email us with your questions and let us know whenever you need some TA and coaching.
(We have learned a lot of lessons about what to do and not to do in developing a sustainable transformation.)
We want to be helpful and what our Center offers can make a big difference.
Howard & Linda
Howard Adelman & Linda Taylor
Dept. of Psychology, UCLA
Phones: 310/825‑1225 — 310/825-3634
What does this statement from the email entail?
transforming student and learning supports is fundamental to enabling equity of opportunity and promoting whole child development.
Looking at Louisiana’s plan for transformation
, these programs and supports are designed to align with the agreements Louisiana signed on to in its Race to the Top grant application. (pg 2):
As you know, in August, 2009, a department design team prepared documents describing
a vision for a comprehensive learning support system for Louisiana (see 2 page overview
and Design Document). These were shared as part of presentations to the Superintendent,
Deputy Superintendent, and senior staff. There was strong support for moving forward to
implement this new way of supporting students and schools. Specifically, the
Superintendent indicated that it fit well with the innovations for supporting struggling
schools, a priority in the U. S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grants for states.
He anticipates a roll out to 150 schools.
In building the capacity to integrate a Comprehensive Learning Supports System into Race
to the Top schools, there are multiple actions that need to take place over the next few
months. First, a strategic planning team is being convened. The planning for developing
a Comprehensive Learning Supports System as a major component of school improvement
will be done within the context of the department’s vision, mission, values, resources, etc.
and is intended to be fully integrated into the department’s overall approach to school
improvement. The strategic planning team will pursue its work from the perspective of
addressing major phases of systemic change – focusing first on (1) creating awareness,
readiness, and engagement among key stakeholders for moving forward in developing
Louisiana’s Comprehensive Learning Support System and (2) initial implementation and
phasing in the work at designated districts/schools. The team will delineate specific
objectives/tasks/steps and the strategies/tactics related to how, who, and when intended
results will be accomplished. The planning will spell out implications for the department,
regional centers, districts, and schools.
At the same time the longer-range strategic planning is being done, consideration also is
being given to immediate actions to ensure there are mechanisms in the department to:
(1) interface with the Race to the Top grant writing group about how best to
integrate the LA Comprehensive Learning Supports System into the proposal;
This plan stresses equity and common, not excellence and individual learning (page 4):
Strategic planning is key to effective implementation, sustainability, and replication to
scale of education innovations. In pursuing such planning, however, it is essential to
approach it from the perspective of systemic change. And, it is also essential not to lose
sight of a simple truth:
If innovations do not end up playing effective roles at a school and in the
classroom, they aren’t worth the time and effort. Schools and classrooms
must be the center and guiding force for all strategic planning.
At the same time, planners must not create a new mythology, one that suggests that every
classroom and school are unique. There are fundamentals that permeate all efforts to
improve schools and schooling, and these should continue to guide all efforts to transform
public edcuation. (MEW bolded and copied exactly from the website)
Adelman and Taylor produced a report in 2012 that stressed personalized learning for students, Personalizing Learning and Addressing Barriers to Learning: Two Continuing Education Units.
But how can the fundamentals that permeate all efforts to improve schools and schooling
be the same for every school, every method of schooling for all children, when all schools face different issues and children are not the same and do not learn in the same way? How can a school offer personalized educational opportunities for your child when the primary goal is equity?
The community must adapt its vision to the best and wisest parent which increasingly looks as if it’s not the parent in a traditional biological/familial structure. The parents are the choice architects funded in part by the Federal Government to inform schools what the services (comprehensive system of learning supports) must include for all children in all schools. Is the ‘community’ now being told by those ‘parents’ what the community must want?
For more information on The Center at UCLA and Scolastic’s Rebuilding for Learning Initiatives in the opening graphic, access these links below:
University of California, Los Angeles
Teams from this Lead District Learning Supports Collaborative convened in … Phase II — 2011-2012 — Scholastic/AASA/UCLA initiative continues with …
University of California, Los Angeles
The overarching goal of the Rebuilding for Learning initiative is to help school leaders. “rebuild” school and district interventions and infrastructure to better …
Register For the Rebuilding for · Learning Online Leadership Institute · Gainesville City Schools, Georgia: · Best Practice and Outcomes · Read the Education …
Created by Scholastic and Drs. Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor from the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools, the Rebuilding for Learning™ initiative is …