March 22, 2012
40 Harvard Mills Square, Suite 3
Wakefield, MA 01880
Tel: 781-245-2212 ext. 275
Wakefield, MA, Mar. 22, 2012 — CAST today announced the selection of four school districts to partner on implementing an innovative program of teacher professional development based on universal design for learning (UDL) principles. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will last one year.
The four districts, chosen from 34 applicants, include Baltimore County and Cecil County public schools, both in Maryland; Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Indiana; and the Chelmsford, Massachusetts Public Schools.
The program will focus on helping districts build capacity to apply UDL principles to middle-school literacy instruction. UDL is an instructional-design framework that helps educators create classroom goals, methods, materials, and assessments that are flexible and customizable to meet individual needs. With UDL, students who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized in classroom settings (such as those with disabilities or those with language barriers) are given the supports and opportunities they need to learn and make progress in the general curriculum.
"We’re eager to get started with this innovative partnership with these outstanding districts," said Patti Ralabate, CAST’s Director of Implementation. "These districts will be infusing UDL into their literacy practices and designing learning environments that give all students—including those who are struggling and striving—equal opportunities to learn. These districts recognize that UDL offers a blueprint for providing such opportunities to all learners."
CAST will provide online and face-to-face training, facilitation and coaching for teachers, in an innovative approach that will develop and support Professional Learning Communities among school faculty to support implementation. At the conclusion of the year-long project, participants expect to have a) improved student achievement in one or two identified areas of literacy; b) aligned UDL and research-based literacy instructional practices across content areas; and c) shown indicators of positive change in educator beliefs, knowledge, and skills related to UDL and literacy instructional approaches.
CAST is a nonprofit research and development organization that works to expand educational opportunities for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning. To learn more, go to www.cast.org.