Maine Narrative: Using Data to Tell a Story in the Pine Tree State, Part Two

Episode 31


Release Date: August 24, 2023

Guests: Erin Frazier, Colette Sullivan, Mary Adley, and Dr. Roberta Lucas, the Maine Department of Education


The Princess Bride, Finding Dorie, The Goonies, data. Stories are everywhere you look, and this week A Date with Data is looking in the state of Maine. Join host Amy Bitterman for the second part of her conversation with even more members of the team from Maine’s Department of Education's Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education: Colette Sullivan, Mary Adley, Dr. Roberta Lucas, and more. We’re talking about sharing data and using that data to tell a story about inclusive education. It’s the Maine narrative, so don’t miss out.

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Episode Transcript

00:00:01.66  >> You're listening to "A Date with Data" with your host, Amy Bitterman.

00:00:07.48  >> Hey. It's Amy, and I'm so excited to be hosting "A Date with Data." I'll be chatting with state and district special education staff who, just like you, are dealing with IDEA data every day.

00:00:19.64  >> "A Date with Data" is brought to you by the IDEA Data Center.

00:00:24.67  >> Thank you for listening to the second part of our episode with the Maine Department of Education. The team from Maine will continue sharing how they are working to improve the quality of their IDEA data and also use their data to make improvements.

00:00:41.58  >> So we would be remiss to not include our Federal Monitoring Team. Colette?

00:00:46.68  >> Yeah, and you ask about a data movie, and I have to say, I'm kind of stuck because I'm in a bit of a panic because, as always, I have to go after Lee, which I hate because Lee tells a great story, and I always get stuck going after her. But that's okay. I'll do my best. Hi. I'm Colette Sullivan. I am the Federal Programs Coordinator. I am responsible for the team that does the supervision and monitoring across the state as well as professional development, technical assistance and a variety of other topics that need to be completed. I joined the department initially as a member of the monitoring team and then moved into this position about 3 years in. And because initially I was not in a position where I really needed to give the larger data story a lot of thought because my supervisor was doing that, when I moved into this position, I spent the better part of my time in this new role just trying to learn exactly what the data was, what was available. How was it used in that larger sense, how it was impacted and how it impacted the other teams? And Erin really worked to break down silos so that we were all talking to each other about our data and how they all work together, and it was really great. And I remember very clearly the first time Sean asked me for data for the SBP/APR, and I started writing my resignation letter right around that point. But I stayed because he was wonderful.

00:02:22.11  But once COVID slowed down, one of my immediate priorities was really to start looking at the SAUs in a way that was wider, I think, than just across their own individual cohorts or their own individual monitoring sessions, if you will, because I really wanted to help them understand that it was important to see this process in a much broader way, in a bigger way than just a federal requirement that they had to do to just get through it and close their cap. I really wanted them to understand this as a period opportunity, which was something that they really had worked on prior to me, but I really wanted them to see that this needed to be a constant work for them, not just every four years, we're coming in. So one of the things that we started doing was including their previous summary. We call it their summary of finding, from their previous cohort session, their previous monitoring session and really having conversations with the directors about their previous findings as compared to their current cycle, if you will, because we wanted them to see what ... How did their data change? What went up? What went down? And it wasn't my intention to do any sort of root cause analysis discussion. But it sort of lent itself to some very rough beginnings around that, and that information, of course, was very SAU-specific. But we found it was really helpful, and we want to continue doing that. We are ...

00:03:54.73  For Sean, we are trying to pick his brain as much as possible just to really understand. I really want to understand the SBP/APR more. So I'm trying to have lots of conversations with the data manager because the more involved I get in this position, I really become more excited about that process and really what my role is in it, and how can I best present the data that I'm responsible for, my B11 ... not my, but the B11 and BB13 data in a way that really represents what we're doing and how we're working with the field to represent that. So that's sort of broadly how we're using some of the data that we have.

00:04:39.21  >> Lots ...

00:04:39.87  >> It's a few this you're doing.

00:04:41.50  >> Lots of data being collected. It's fascinating to hear and just how you're using it, too. It's not just collecting it for collecting its sake but really using it to improve things and ideas for topics to focus on.

00:04:55.33  >> Yeah, I hope so.

00:04:56.18  >> That's really neat.

00:04:58.71  >> And Mary is our special ... She's not special projects. She's state agency clients and programs, and I'll have her describe what she does for the department.

00:05:09.71  >> Everyone, I'm Mary Adley, the Coordinator for State Agency Programs for the Maine Department of Education's Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education. My movie reference is "Blade Runner." We're using data to make sure students with variabilities don't become missing, as a main character in this movie does. The state agency program team supports Maine's most vulnerable students, who are in the care or custody of another partner agency, DHHS or Department of Corrections, and includes, for example, children who remain in their biological parents' custody but are placed through a DHS referral process into residential treatment because of their medical and clinical needs for additional supports and services in the home and community settings. Regardless of their educational placement by IEP teams on the least-restrictive environment continuum, these children's data, for example, attendance assessment, disproportionality, et cetera, is all captured through their school enrollment with the SAU that's responsible for their provision of fate. We are ... My team is excited about our partnership with the federal monitoring team to evaluate the Fidelity of programming for youth who are in out-of-unit placements that includes ... In Maine, we call them special purpose private schools. There's also educational programming provided for youth at the Maine Department of Corrections Facility and a variety of temporary crisis stabilization placements.

00:06:44.42  A general system of supervision and monitoring data elements for special purpose private schools is outline in our Maine Unified Special Education Regulations, and it includes both quantitative and qualitative components with a similar process used by my team as is used by the SAU monitoring that occurs by the federal monitoring team. And I will close by saying, as my colleagues have already said, collaboration with thought partners is critical to our work of data-informed decisions and instruction. So now, I'm going to turn it over to my colleague, Dr. Roberta Lucas, to introduce herself.

00:07:24.70  >> Thanks, Mary. I'm Dr. Roberta Lucas, and I am the Child Development Services, CDS, State Director, and CDS in Maine is unique in that we are a quasi-state agency that is under the Department of Education and service children both in part C and part B. So we report all of our data through the Department of Education, and I share our data with Sean as he writes the SBP/APR. And I have a data manager, Ariana Whiting, who is also on this call, and she gives me all of that quantitative data, and then I collect a lot of quantitative data throughout our sites. Currently, we have seen an increase in referrals in our children and in our infants and toddlers. In part C, we have h about a 72-percent increase of children with IFSPs, which means that we are approximately seeing a 51-percent increase of referrals year over year. And then in children in part B, we have 62 percent of children on IEPs, which means that we have about a 50-percent increase year over year of children being referred, 3 to 5-year-olds. Maine currently works with a lot of SAUs, and I have been trying to build a repository of SAUs to help service children. Right now, we have about 20% of the SAUs.

00:09:04.89  That's about 45 servicing children in this age bracket, 3 to 5. And they're providing speech and language, OTPT, some BCBA services, and they also help us with transportation to and from public preschool. Because Maine is unique, it also doesn't have universal pre-K. So the data that I get from Ariana helps inform the program needs that we have for children, the capacity needs that we have for staff and how we determine best opportunities for the children that need either an IFSP or an IEP. I just love the two quotes. One of them is from "The Princess Bride" as she enters into the fire swamp: "We'll never survive." And then I answer that with "Finding Nemo," when Dora says, "Just keep swimming," because those are the two things that keep me going, is that I ... Sometimes I feel like I'll never survive, but I just keep swimming.

00:10:14.63  >> Going ...

00:10:14.84  >> And Ariana and my whole team in CDS helps me do that and is behind me. That's me, and I think I'm moving it onto ... I'm not sure.

00:10:27.27  >> Yeah, no worries.

00:10:28.36  >> Okay. Back to Erin.

00:10:30.71  >> Right. So, Amy, you can see why, when I was thinking about who to invite on this podcast to tell the Maine story, it's all of us, right?

00:10:38.86  >> Mm-hmm.

00:10:39.56  >> We are all interconnected, and we cannot ... We were all the puzzle pieces of OSEP. My movie is "The Goonies," because that's what this team is like. They're so ... We're so ... We have such a fun time talking. These are serious topics, right?

00:10:54.15  >> Mm-hmm.

00:10:54.37  >> Mary Adley, serious topics that we have to talk about, and we just ... We are passionate about data, and we want to ... As Sean said, knowledge is good. It's great to have all this data, but if you can't use it to change what's happening in your landscape, then it's not relevant. So that's really our next focus as to how these data will support each other. Our big mission right now in Maine, as I said, is inclusion, and we're all looking for that to change that culture in Maine of belonging and access for ... We think of ourselves as social justice warriors, and we use data to tell the story of how this isn't going well and how we need to increase inclusion. So we were very excited to be asked to talk about this. We talk about data a lot, as you can imagine.

00:11:51.60  >> Yes, we certainly have a lot of data and interesting stories to tell from just the whole team in all different ways. So I've really enjoyed listening to how you all work together and improve the quality of your data that then you can really take it and use it and make improvements. So thank you.

00:12:15.13  >> Yeah. Yeah, we really appreciate talking about this. Like I said, I'm just so grateful for this team and our shared passion and commitment to this work.

00:12:24.21  >> Mm-hmm.

00:12:24.43  >> It's very ... It's a very exciting place to be.

00:12:28.86  >> Yes. Well, passion definitely shines through. So really, really appreciate it.

00:12:35.67  >> Yeah. Are there any other questions you have of Maine?

00:12:39.33  >> No. I'm still trying to absorb ...

00:12:41.15  >> I know. There's so much.

00:12:42.32  >> ... everything. There's just so much, yeah. But really enjoyed hearing about it and just the variety and just all the different things you have going on and how you're working together, is just so exciting to hear about because I think that's ... That can be unusual in states. So kudos to all of you.

00:13:03.99  >> To access podcast resources, submit questions related to today's episode or if you have ideas for future topics, we'd love to hear from you. The links are in the episode content. Or connect with us via the podcast page on the IDC website at IDEAData.org.