By Lori Anderson
Many campus and district leaders may find themselves lacking in understanding of Results-Driven Accountability and the impact it has on their schools and districts across Texas. Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) is local education agency (LEA) level data regarding data and monitoring for students in selected program areas. The framework’s purpose is to balance focus on improving educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities. RDA provides greater support to local education agencies using the accountability framework to provide states with incentives and support to implement evidence-based strategies to improve results and outcomes for children and students with disabilities (USDoE, 2014a, para.9).
In Texas, three programs of special populations monitored and reported through the Results-Driven Accountability system include (a) Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and Emergent Bilingual (BE/ESL/EB), (b) Other Special Populations (OSP) students in Foster Care, experiencing homelessness, or are Military-Connected, and (c) Special Education (SPED). Academic achievement and postsecondary readiness are domains in which student data is reported in all three areas and analyzed for improvement by LEAs and ESCs directly providing support. One additional domain, disproportionate analysis, is currently analyzed in the Special Education domain only and is also reported further on the Significant Disproportionality report provided directly to LEAs for analysis and improvement planning. In Texas, both reports are released to LEAs through the TEA Login system in the Accountability application. The reports released through this avenue are confidential and considered ‘unmasked’ or include all student numbers and data. A few weeks after the reports are released to LEAs, the Results-Driven Accountability District Summary is released to the public in a ‘masked’ format omitting the specific student numbers to avoid any possibility of identification. Public reports are available to any individual by searching TEA RDA Reports or via this link.
Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) replaced the former Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System (PBMAS) in the fall of 2019. RDA is released to schools in the fall of each year. Many school leaders across Texas were unaware of the change and unable to actively engage in data analysis, as the Spring of 2020 brought the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, and a jolt into online learning platforms and a need for technology devices for all students. The fall of 2020 brought the release of another annual RDA report; however, many schools were continuing online learning opportunities, engaging in contact tracing, experiencing high absences among teachers and staff, and continuing to adapt all school procedures according to the guidance provided by local, state, and national leaders. As a result, many school leaders continued to have a lack of awareness of Results-Driven Accountability and its impact on their students and school.
As a result, when 2021 RDA reports were released in September 2021, many school leaders were caught off guard by designations of Significant Disproportionality in special education representation and/or discipline or by their overall determination level requiring the development and submission of a Strategic Support Plan to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). A designation of Significant Disproportionality (SD) Year 3 requires LEAs (districts and open-enrollment charters) to allocate a mandatory 15% of IDEA-B Federal Funds designated toward the improvement strategies related to the area identified with SD Year 3. When a school is designated SD Year 3 in the discipline of special education students, it becomes a two to three-year process to move out of Significant Disproportionality. This is because the indicators for RDA in special education discipline are considered lag data. When the Fall RDA Report is released, the discipline data included took place two school years prior to the current. Perhaps the most challenging area of disproportionality identified among special education students in Texas is around disciplinary placements. According to Voulgarides et al., (2013), the contributing factors of racial disproportionality in special education for culturally and linguistically diverse students are discipline policies and practices, interventions and referrals, instruction and assessment, differential access to educational opportunity, family and community partnerships, teacher expectations and misconceptions, cultural dissonance, and district sociodemographics. Exclusionary policies are often implemented widely in schools targeting culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities despite being associated with extremely poor outcomes (Simmons-Reed & Cartledge, 2014). Exclusionary disciplinary placements reported through the Results-Driven Accountability System are out-of-school suspension, in-school suspension, and placements in a District Alternative Education Program (DAEP) and a Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP). Exclusionary discipline policies, procedures, and practices are the primary sources of the disproportionality of disciplinary placements among special education students. Christle et al. (2004) conclude while suspension may temporarily solve a behavior issue, it can negatively affect academic performance and cause lifelong consequences. These policies continue to occur regularly in schools across the United States amidst decades of evidence and research “despite the association with extremely poor outcomes for linguistically and culturally diverse students, particularly African American males with and without disabilities” (Simmons-Reed & Cartledge, 2014, p.1).
Student outcomes of all students, including students with disabilities, related to exclusionary disciplinary placements can be positively impacted by school leaders who continuously seek strategies for improvement. Strategies identified in the research include conducting a root cause analysis, an equity-focused leadership team, transformational leaders, job-embedded teacher professional development, fidelity of implementation strategies, School Wide Positive Behavior Supports, Restorative Practices, and a focus on student Social-Emotional Learning. Among these strategies for improvement, a School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports framework has the potential to yield immediate success for school staff members and students. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based three-tiered framework to improve and integrate all the data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes every day (pbis.org, 2022). The three-tiered framework is like the academic Response to Intervention (RTI) tiers where the levels of support move from universal to targeted to intensive based on student behavior needs. The Center on PBIS is supported by the U.S Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and states the five interrelated elements embedded into PBIS are: (a) equity, (b) systems, (c) data, (d) practices, and (e) outcomes. RTI and PBIS are both common models of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) implemented in schools throughout the United States (Castillo et al., 2022). As a proactive, systemic alternative to the use of exclusionary discipline, MTSS-Behavior, specifically PBIS, has evolved (Fallon et al, 2021; Sugai & Horner, 2020).
Consequences and disciplinary placements are important to maintaining a positive and safe school culture and environment for all staff and students. However, discipline alone does not typically change student behavior. The partnership of consequences for behavior with the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports based on the level of need for each student can positively impact student behaviors, improve the culture and climate of the school, and result in changed lives as students grow and become adults through our school systems across the state.
TEPSA member Lori Anderson serves as a Region 7 ESC Special Education Liaison. She provides support to Special Education Directors and staff along with campus and district administrators through the TEA Differentiated Monitoring and Support (DMS) System to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Included in the DMS System are Results-Driven Accountability, Cyclical Monitoring, Special Education Self-Assessment, and Targeted Monitoring Activities.
Castillo, J. M., Scheel, N. L., Wolgemuth, J. R., Latimer, J. D., & Green, S. M. (2022). A scoping review of the literature on professional learning for MTSS. Journal of School Psychology, 92, 166-187.
Center on PBIS (2023). Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports [Website]. www.pbis.org.
Fallon, L. M., Veiga, M., & Sugai, G. (2021). Strengthening MTSS for behavior (MTSS-B) to promote racial equity. School Psychology Review, 1-16.
Simmons-Reed, E. A., & Cartledge, G. (2014). School Discipline Disproportionality: Culturally Competent Interventions for African American Males. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning, 4(2), 95-109.
Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (2020). Sustaining and scaling positive behavioral interventions and supports: Implementation drivers, outcomes, and considerations. Exceptional Children, 86(2), 120-136.
Texas Education Agency. (2022). Results Driven Accountability 2022 Manual Texas Education Agency. Retrieved April 23, 2023, from https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/2022-rda-manual.pdf
United States Department of Education. (2014, May 14). Letter to chief state school officers. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/rda/050914rda-lette-to-chiefs-final.pdf
TEPSA Leader, Summer 2023, Vol 36, No 3
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