The Systems for Student Success (SfSS) initiative is designed to support districts that want to thoughtfully examine and systematically address their students' most significant barriers to learning. These identified barriers might include, but are not limited to:
- Insufficient or ineffective approaches for supporting the social emotional aspects of learning, (e.g., developing students' social emotional competencies and fostering academic engagement and motivation through personalization, student voice and choice, etc.);
- Poor systems for identifying and monitoring student academic, behavior, and social-emotional strengths and areas of need;
- Ineffective, and potentially detrimental practices around language and cultural competence and racial bias;
- Adult mindset and capacity related to supporting students' holistic needs;
- Disproportionate, punitive and poor discipline practices;
- Lack of a safe and supportive school and classroom climate;
- Ineffective family-school communication and collaboration;
- Reactive rather than proactive, student support practices;
- Lack of adult capacity to support youth affected by trauma and/or poverty; and
- Housing, transportation, and other challenges related to basic needs, poverty and economic instability.
The SfSS Initiative provides participating districts with grant funding, targeted assistance and networking opportunities to identify and prioritize these barriers and then plan and implement systems and strategies to address them. Plans are developed through the lens of five interrelated domains: school climate, engaging instruction for academic and social-emotional learning, proactive student support, systematic family engagement, and strategic partnerships. In addition, districts go through a process of assessing and redesigning the systems and infrastructure needed to support this work with coherence (e.g., policy changes, role shifts, resource needs, teaming structures, etc.).
Examples of how districts have used / are using the SfSS grant opportunity include:
- Revamping school improvement planning to include regular collection and analysis of school climate data from students, parents, and staff.
- Systematizing professional learning opportunities related to the social emotional dimensions of learning.
- Conducting equity and social emotional audits to understand existing practices, professional development strategies, staffing, etc.
- Creating or refining more effective multi-tiered system of support models.
- Aligning disparate initiatives and team structures at school and district levels (e.g., PBIS, SEL, equity, restorative practices, school climate, etc.).
- Revising roles, job descriptions, hiring, and induction processes to include explicit focus on school/classroom climate and social emotional dimensions of learning. Improve flow of discipline data to schools and establish regular district level meeting and professional learning community to systematically review discipline/behavior data and implement responses. Revised guidelines related to office referral practices and policies (when to manage in classroom, when to refer) and Code of Conduct to reflect a restorative framework.
There are two competitive grant opportunities outlined in this RFP: SfSS Implementation grants and SfSS Planning grants. The requirements for each grant are outlined below. The Department has up to $400,000 allocated for implementation and planning grants in FY19.