The MDS3 Initiative is supported through a grant awarded to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) by the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools at the United States Department of Education. The Initiative was funded to develop a sustainable state-wide system to measure school climate, the school environment, student engagement, and school safety in high schools. Participating schools receive training, resources, support, and coaching in the implementation of evidence-based programs (EBPs) to meet the needs of their students and school community. Sheppard Pratt Health System and Johns Hopkins are collaborating with MSDE in the implementation and evaluation o f the Initiative.
This Initiative builds on Maryland's 11-year Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Initiative, which has supported implementation o f the universal, school-wide PBIS model in over 800 Maryland schools. However, additional support and more intensive interventions were needed for high schools to provide a continuum ofstrategies to meet the needs of their students. The MDS3 Initiative provides the opportunity to meet this need in order to improve school climate and reduce discipline problems, bullying, and substance use problems through the implementation of multi-tiered interventions. The data, coaching, professional development, and ongoing technical assistance provided through the MDS3 Initiative are designed to improve conditions for learning and, as a result, student achievement.
Beginning in November 2010, the State Superintendent of Schools, or designee contacted Local School System Superintendents' to familiarize them with the Initiative. Meetings were then with district personnel, in advance of bringing principals together for an information session. MDS3 grant includes a total of 60 comprehensive high schools (grades 9-12) across multiple Maryland local school systems. Schools enrolled in the four-year Initiative in January and February of 2011.
An online climate survey was administered to students, parents, and staff at all enrolled high schools in the Spring of 2011 and will continue annually thereafter through 2014. Upon completion of the survey in Spring 2011, a climate profile for participating schools3was developed and posted on the MSDE, MDS webpage. Schools were randomly assigned to one of two groups: intervention schools o r comparison schools. The 30 intervention schools use their climate data to identify and prioritize specific needs for their school. Based on these needs, the schools select one or more interventions from a menu of EBPs. Staff began training, and climate specialists were assigned to facilitate the implementation of those strategies with high fidelity. The 30 schools in the?group have access to the survey data and receive an annual honorarium for their participation. At the end of the grant period, the comparison schools will receive the training in the EBPs selected by the school.
There are a lot of ways to get involved with the work we’re doing. In fact, it takes a strong, supportive and committed community to transform our schools into safe, supportive environment for academic achievement. Please contact us if you would like to be an MDS3 ally.
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