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2020 Abstracts: Guam

PR Award #: H323A200019
Name: Guam Department of Education
Title: Project Hita Para Mona: GDOE State Personnel Development Grant
City, State: Barrigada, GU
Project Director: Yolanda Gabriel
Project Director email: ysgabriel@gdoe.net

Purpose
The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) has designed a high-quality, sustainable professional development program to increase its personnel capacity to address the implementation of early intervention and special education evidence-based practices for improving functional outcomes and educational results for children with disabilities, with a focus on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across the age-groups. Project Hita Para Mo'na utilizes an authentic engagement approach to develop and implement effective professional development during this unprecedented new normal. Today, with the global public health crisis caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), families and providers must come together to develop a new playbook for how known evidence-based practices can be effectively implemented in unknown environments from maintaining social distancing to virtual learning. This playbook needs to be developed with all stakeholders, especially families of children with disabilities, to ensure meaningful application of the knowns into the unknowns of today.  In CHamoru, Hita Para Mo'na means “moving forward together.” GDOE’s Project Hita Para Mo'na therefore serves as the catalyst for understanding the meaning of effective professional development during these uncertain times. GDOE is committed to moving forward together with stakeholders, inclusive of parents, early interventionists, educators, and school leaders, to purposefully plan and implement effective professional development that incorporates the unfamiliar learning environments of today. In a five-year grant period, Project Hita Para Mo'na will implement specific objectives and activities to support meeting five project goals: Goal 1: Within the first quarter of project operation, establish a stakeholder informed process that identifies preparation and professional development needs across early childhood, special and general education that is facilitated by national leaders in collaboration using a stakeholder-developed framework and tools. Goal 2: Develop products that guide the interaction and learning among collaborative partners. Goal 3: Develop a working draft of consensus recommendations for delivering content in virtual environments, with specific attention to children with ASD. Goal 4: Establish a replicable process for collaborative examination and co-creation of professional development options accepted by the system and stakeholder partners. Goal 5: To ensure sustainability, the project Core Team and collaborating partners will develop a plan to operationalize elements of Project Hita Para Mo'na beyond the grant period.

Method
Project Hita Para Mo'na will (a) coalesce and regularly convene stakeholders around the examination of evidence-based preparation and professional development in unique and virtual environments, with a focus on children with ASD; (b) prepare and support parents, early interventionists, educators, and school leaders in establishing fidelity of evidence-based practices in unique and virtual environments; (c) surface the lessons learned in using technology for the delivery of effective professional development to improve the outcomes of children with disabilities, with a focus on evidence-based practices for children with ASD; (d) co-create new options for professional development that respond to the unique and virtual environments in which instruction must be provided now and in a long-term commitment to practitioner needs; and (e) build a new role for practitioner leaders who can build collaborative relationships with families and stakeholders who share the responsibility for effective instruction of children with disabilities; can influence and coach peers in the effective application of evidence-based practices in unique environments; and can offer customized advice for applying evidence-based practice in virtual settings and with specific and/or high need populations, such as children with ASD. The project evaluation process incorporates quantitative and qualitative techniques to measure progress and the Value Creation Framework to provide a more holistic understanding of the impact of Project Hita Para Mo'na. The GDOE has established three key partnerships to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of the project goals: Autism Community Together (ACT), local non-profit organization of families and supporters of individuals with ASD; University of Guam (UOG), local institution of higher education; and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), the national organization for leaders in special education. UOG Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (Guam CEDDERS) and School of Education (SOE) will serve to provide the technical expertise in building local capacity through professional development and graduate-level course credit attainment. Guam CEDDERS will serve as the liaison between GDOE, ACT, SOE, and national experts in early intervention and special education. Guam CEDDERS will also facilitate the evaluation component of the project. SOE will serve as a critical collaborator for the incorporation of the professional development content and delivery considerations into existing pre-service and in-service teacher and administrator coursework. NASDSE will provide the national expertise in special education leadership utilizing the Leading by Convening framework for the development and implementation of the content and delivery system. When combined with special education grounding and technical leadership skills in an active curriculum with job-embedded activities, Leading by Convening offers the missing piece, the human side of change, and provides the vehicle for building and sustaining effective professional development activities in the new  normal.