The Special Education Supports Information System (SESIS)

Using and Promoting the
California School Climate
Survey and the Special
Education Supports
Information System (SESIS)
Greg Austin, PhD (
• WestEd Health and Human
Development Program
• California School Climate, Health, and
Learning Surveys System
Dona Meinders
• WestEd Center for Prevention and
Early Intervention
Presentation Outline
• Data and resources available through the
California School Climate Survey (CSCS) of school
staff and its Special Education Supports
Information System (SESIS).
• Why school climate matters to special education.
• Example of data use
• Key state findings.
• Current challenges to sustaining the system and
how to address.
What is SESIS?
• Part of the California School Climate Survey (CSCS) data
• A resource that provides schools, districts, SELPAs, and CDE
with data from school staff to better:
 Understand and address the needs of students and staff
in special education programs.
 Improve staff working conditions and retention.
 Integrate special and general education
• Development funded by CDE Division of Special Education
and the California Comprehensive Center, 2008-12.
Key SESIS Components
• Addition of questions to CSCS to identify special
education (SE) teachers and other service providers
• Addition of Special Education Supports Module.
• Reports comparing results from Special Education
providers vs. others.
• Website:
What is the California School Climate Survey (CSCS)?
• The state’s main survey of and about school staff.
• One of the three linked tools for local data
collection that form the California School Climate,
Health, and Learning Survey System (Cal-SCHLS):
 CA Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS)
 CA School Climate Survey (CSCS)
 CA School Parent Survey (CSPS)
• A project of the California Dept of Ed, with support
from the Dept of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
• Websites: cal-schls/chks/cscs/
What is Cal-SCHLS?
• The largest, oldest effort to provide
schools/communities statewide with local data
from students, staff, parents to:
 Identify the needs of students of students related
to success in school, career, and life.
 Promote health and well-being.
 Improve school climates, teacher satisfaction
and retention, and parent involvement
• Identified as a model system by the US Dept of Ed
(Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students)
California School Climate Survey (CSCS): Development
• Main Goals
 Assess needs of teachers and other staff in light of teacher
retention issue.
Influenced by research on factors that influence teachers staying or
leaving the field and overall job satisfaction (e.g., Futernick, 2007*)
 Provide staff perceptions to compare with student self-report
in CHKS.
 Provide data on supports and services provided for students
and staff, general and special education.
• Developed collaboratively by:
 WestEd Cal-SCHLS staff & California Comprehensive Center
 CDE Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, Special
Education Division, Superintendent’s P16 Office
*Ken Futernick, A Possible Dream….Retaining California
Teachers…So ALL Children Can Learn (2007)
CSCS Overview
Modular instrument (download:
 General Core (for all staff)
 Learning Supports Module (health/prevention staff)
 Special Education Supports Module
For providers of services to students with Individualized Education
Programs (IEPs)
 Custom Module (You can add questions!)
On-line and no cost if administered with CHKS
All certified and classified staff, elementary through high school
 Anonymous and voluntary
2004-10 required biennially of all LEAs receiving NCLB Title IV
funding. Typically administered by about:
 700 Districts, 4,800 Schools, 94,000 Staff
Core Module Content (43 items/all staff )
Respondent demographics and rolls
Academic priorities, norms & standards
Student motivation & readiness to learn
Relationships: student/staff & intra-staff (collegiality)
Staff supports, involvement in decision-making, &
professional development needs
Student & staff safety
Impact on school of student behavior
• Perceived student physical and mental health
Equity & discipline (communication & enforcement)
Parent involvement
SE-related Content
• Respondent role in school (Core):
 Special education teacher (#1)
 Provide services to students in special education (#2)
• Need for professional development in serving SE students (Core).
• School SE supports:
 Provides materials, resources, and training needed to work with
IEP students (Core).
 Provides services for students with disabilities/special needs
(Learning Supports Module).
 Emphasizes helping students with their social, emotional, and
behavioral problems (Learning Supports Module).
Content: Special Education Supports Module (SESM)
Staff degrees, credentials, service setting
Bureaucratic barriers (3 items)
Integration & collaboration between special &
general ed (5 items)
Expectations & supports for students with IEPs (5
Staff personnel supports (7 items)
Influenced by Futernick (2007)* research on factors
affecting staff retention
* See slide 7
Reports (2008-12 at
670 District Main Reports with SESM (biennial)
 Some received two (biennial)
District SE Reports
 Disaggregated by SE staff providers vs. all others
Minimum 5 staff respondents to preserve confidentiality
 2008-10: 493 reports
 2010-12: 253 reports (Lower due to declining CSCS participation)
58 SELPA Main Reports
 1- or 2-year aggregations, 2009-11, total sample
 Excluding single district SELPAs
2 State Reports (2008-10)
 SE Providers vs. Other Staff
 SE vs. General Ed Teacher
SESM Summary Table from Main Report
Sample Page from SE Report
Other Data Availability
• School-level reports and full datasets on request
• Custom disaggregations
• Query CSCS
 Forthcoming online access to total sample
• CSCS Survey Content Guide
 Describes purpose and significance of each
question on survey, including SESM
• Making Sense of School Climate: Using Cal-SCHLS to
Inform Your School Improvement Efforts
• Making Data-driven Decisions in Student Support and
School Mental Health Programs: A Guidebook for
Practice (forthcoming)
• CHKS Guidebook for Data Use and Dissemination
• Data Use and Student Voice Workshops
School Climate Data Workbook
• Worksheets for identifying and understanding key
survey results, including Special Education related.
• Action guide to next steps in using CHKS/CSCS
data to improve practice and policy in improving
school climate, closing the achievement gap, and
meeting the needs of diverse populations.
Generic Question
Why School Climate Matters
School Climate: What is It?
• The learning conditions and quality of the school
environment that affect the attitudes, behaviors,
and performance of both students and staff.
 Acts as a filter to a student’s potential to
succeed — can impede or enhance.
• Strongest argument you can make for why CSCS
data needed by the school.
• An approach to school improvement that aligns
with many concepts found in special education.
Why Is It Important?
• “… to a greater or less extent, all research on
school climate finds a positive correlation between
better school climate and increased student
learning and achievement.” – Jones et al. 2008
 Attendance, behavior, grades, test scores, and
• School climate directly influences the psychosocial
as well as cognitive development of students
• Indirectly influences achievement through its
effect on teacher performance and retention (job
Importance: Staff Retention
 Teaching and learning conditions are key factor
influencing retention in the teaching profession
(Futernick 2007)*
This is especially true for special educators
 School climate factors are among the most
important in whether teachers stay or leave.
Relationships and collegiality.
Opportunities for participation and decision making,
control over the workload.
Perceptions about system & administrative support.
 SESM designed to fit under these research
*See slide 6
The Missing Piece in School Reform
• School climate is “possibly the least discussed element
in practical conversations about how to improve
student achievement.” (Jerald 2006)
• Only 10-20% of school turnaround efforts succeed.
• Most school reform efforts focused on improvements in
instruction and governance.
 Often necessary but insufficient.
 Fall short when lack attention to why students learn
and how the school environment affects them.
• The greatest teachers and instruction will have little
impact if students do not attend, behave, and try —
and climate influences all of these.
Importance of the School Climate Focus
• Directs attention to the supports and opportunities
schools provide to ensure all student succeed.
• Rooted in recognition school success requires
addressing the needs of the Whole Child — Social,
Emotional, Physical, as well as Cognitive
Focus Aligns with Response-to-Intervention Approaches
• Identify school-wide issues that can be addressed by fostering
protective factors that impact multiple risk factors and problem
behaviors, and promote positive development.
• Early identification of at-risk groups.
• Implementing interventions for high-risk youth.
Targeted Group
Universal Interventions
Examples of SESIS Data Use
Topics Included in CSCS Reports
Learning and Working Environment
Student Developmental Supports and Opportunities
Respect, Cultural Sensitivity, and the Achievement Gap
Learning Readiness and Engagement Indicators
Perceived Student Risk Behavior
Discipline & Counseling
Learning Supports Module:
Student Services and Policies
Special Education Supports Module:
Barriers to Effective Service Delivery
Integration and Collaboration between Special and General Education
Expectations and Supports for Special Populations
Personnel Supports
Possible Uses of the Data
District-level* data that can be used for:
• Identification of Root Causes of Disproportionate
• Data for district improvement plans for Program
• Improvement of special education services
• LEA Plan Development
• Retention of special education teachers
*School level may be available on request
California School Climate Survey
Main District Report 2010-11
Total Respondents
Role of Respondents
•General Education Teachers
•Special Education teachers
•Other (Counselors, classified staff, psychologists)
Length of Time at Current Site
•Over 10 years
•6-10 years
•3-5 years
•0-2 years
CSCS District Data 2010-11
Findings Related to Statements of Need
Percent Disagreeing or Strongly Disagreeing
Total District
This school has staff examine their own cultural
biases through professional development or
other processes
This school has sufficient resources to create a
safe campus
This school provides materials, resources and
training needed to work with special education
Provides sufficient time to collaborate on
service delivery
CSCS District Data 2010-11
Findings Related to the Severity of Student Problems
Respondents rated the following problems as
moderate or severe:
Disruptive student behavior
Student alcohol or drug use
Gang related activities
Lack of respect of staff by students
Harassment or bullying among students
CSCS District Data 2010-11
Findings Related to Professional Development Needs
Perceived Need for Additional Professional Development
Meeting the social, emotional, and developmental needs of
Closing the achievement gap
Working with special education students
Creating a positive school climate
Culturally relevant pedagogy
Serving English language learners
Positive behavior supports and classroom management
Confirm survey need and value for
Special Education
Respondents (2008-10 Report)
• Total 94,000
• SE Providers 65,000 (c.2000 per school level; highest
• SE Teachers 7,200
• 670 districts & 4,844 schools
• Total 60,400
• SE Providers 45,000
• SE Teachers 6,500 (other teachers 43,600)
Key Results: Core and Learning Supports Module
• Elementary staff higher than high school for:
 Level of resources provided to SE,
 Help provided for students with social-emotional
problems, and
 PD need in serving SE students.
• High school staff higher than elementary for:
 Student depression/mental health being
moderate/severe problem at school
 Providing services for students with disabilities/special
Key Results: Special Ed vs. General Ed (Core Items)
• SE vs. GE differences greater among teachers than
providers (for which often small).
• SE teachers less positive than GE on school climate
• SE more positive on SE-related items.
• Overall results mask school-level differences
 Less positive results for SE vs. GE teachers largely
found in high schools, followed by middle schools.
 Elementary differences small, or SE more positive
than GE.
SE Teachers Less Positive than GE for School Climate
Indicators (Strongly Agree)
• Students equal opportunity for classroom participation.
(<8 points, 34% SE vs. 42% GE)
• Staff really care about every student.
(<5 points, 41% SE vs. 46% GE)
• Staff treat every students with respect.
(<5 points, 34% SE vs. 39% GE)
• School supportive and inviting place to learn.
(<4 points, 41% SE vs. 45% GE)
• School promotes academic success for all students.
(<4 points, 40% SE vs. 44% GE)
• School provides materials, resources, training to do job effectively.
(<3 points, 22% SE vs. GE 25%)
SE = Special Ed Teachers; GE = General Ed Teacher
Professional Development Needs (SE vs. GE Teachers)
• Overall little difference
 Including for serving special education students (48%
vs. 50%)
• Biggest differences:
 Meeting social, emotional, developmental needs of
(>5 points, 56% vs. 51%)
 Positive behavior supports & classroom management
(>6 points, 45% vs. 39%)
Sustaining the Data
Challenges to Data Availability
• NCLB Title 4 defunding has ended CDE survey
requirement and source of covering survey costs
 Over one-third decline in survey participation in
Less willing to do anything that not required, costs money
and labor (biggest issue), and involves classroom time
 If schools stop surveying, lose not only local data
but ability to aggregate at county, SELPA, and
state levels.
• Lost $250,000 project support
Challenges to Data Availability: SESIS
• CDE no longer funding SESIS and preparation of
Special Ed Reports (disaggregated by providers)
 Under review: SESM to be converted to
supplementary module, only added on request
(with fee of $100)
 Disaggregated reports (SE providers vs. others)
provided only on request
$100 preparation fee.
Responses: State and County Supports for CHKS/CSCS
• Online CHKS to reduce survey administration labor
• CHKS/CSCS still required of state TUPE (Tobacco Use
Prevention Education) grantees
 New Tier 1 grants specifically to fund survey
• County agencies collaborating to provide funding to
preserve countywide district administration
 Orange, Sonoma etc.
• County AOD depts can use Substance Abuse
Prevention & Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant Primary
Prevention funds to support survey
• State funding for CHKS support if agree to participate in
state substance use survey (CSS)
• Most supports for CHKS, but CSCS free with it
What You Can Do: Actively Lobby for Survey Participation
• Reach out to all stakeholders (health, prevention, school
improvement team, administrators). Show how data
meets multiple needs (break down silos).
• Make the case for the survey’s value to the school, both
for Special Ed and school improvement efforts in general.
Speak to the school’s concerns.
 Improving student attendance, engagement, grades,
and graduation
 Addressing teacher retention and parent/community
• Local data essential for guiding school and program
improvement efforts as part of a data-driven decisionmaking process.
See Cal-SCHLS Guidelines for Survey Administration, 2010-11.
What You Can Do
• Offer to help plan and administer the survey
 Make sure SESM added to the CSCS.
 Make sure disaggregated Special Ed Report requested.
• Work to find sources of funding
 Network with county agencies for countywide support
 Local foundations and other data users
 Have district apply for TUPE grant
• Show them examples from existing CSCS/CHKS data for
why important.
• Provide expertise to help students in need.
See: CHKS Guidebook to Data Use and Dissemination
Survey Value: Other Ways It Has Been Used
• Obtaining program funding
– Federal/state grants will still be requiring needsassessment data to justify funding in proposals.
One of the primary benefits cited by LEAs
– Required to obtain State TUPE grants.
• Identifying youth needs, especially most vulnerable
• Raising public awareness and school support
• Improving school-community collaboration in
meeting needs of youth
See Cal-SCHLS Guidelines for Survey Administration, 201011. (
Value: Cost Benefit
• Direct costs low: CHKS/CSCS only $.30/kid.
– For half of districts, basic fees c.$130 or less.
– Districts in 6th & 7th deciles, from $150-350.
– The 10% of largest districts, $1,000.
– Cost effective means to collect other needed
data (add questions)
• Don’t have to do the CHKS. Stand-alone costs:
$250-500 depending on district size
• Real need help in labor costs (planning &
administering the survey)
See Cal-SCHLS Guidelines for Survey Administration, 201011. (
For further information:
• Gregory Austin, CHKS/CSCS Director
 562.799.5155
 Website:
• Toll-free CHKS/CSCS Information Line: 888.841.7536
• Janet Digmon, California Department of