Maryland Safe and Supportive Schools (MDS3) Initiative
What is the MDS3 Initiative?
The MDS3 Initiative is funded by 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 (CFDA#84.184Y). The Initiative is 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 will 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 University will collaborate with MSDE in the implementation and evaluation of the Initiative.
What is the purpose of the MDS3 Initiative?
This Initiative builds on the State's 11-year Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative, which has supported implementation of the universal, School-wide PBIS model in over 900 Maryland schools. Additional support and more intensive interventions are needed for high schools to provide a continuum of strategies to meet the needs of their students. The MDS3 Initiative provides the opportunity 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.
What Does MDS3 provide?
An online climate survey was developed by John Hopkins University in the winter of 2010 and administered to students, parents, and staff at all enrolled participating high schools in the spring of 2011, 2012, 2013 and, 2014. Schools were randomly assigned to one of two groups: intervention schools or comparison schools. Upon completion of the survey in the spring, a climate profile score is provided for participating schools and is posted on this site, as required by the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. The 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 Evidence Based Programs (EBPs). Sheppard Pratt Health System assigns climate specialists to each school to facilitate the implementation of those strategies with fidelity. The schools in the comparison group have access to the survey data and receive an annual honorarium for their participation. Finally, at the end of the grant period, the comparison schools receive training in the EBPs selected by the school.
What will take place as a result of this funding?
The overarching outcome of the initiative is to improve the conditions for learning in participating high schools which will be accomplished by:
- Developing a sustainable state-wide system to measure school climate, the school environment, and student engagement in high schools;
- Analyzing collected data to create annual climate profiles and customized intervention plans for each school; and
- Providing ongoing training and support in the implementation of related evidence-based programs in schools.
There are twelve (12) Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and 58 schools engaged in MDS3. Through a formal recruitment process led by MSDE, LEAs and their schools were enrolled in late 2010 and early 2011 for the remaining 3.5 years of the grant in the MDS3 Initiative (winter 2011 through September 2015). Schools in the intervention condition receive training and on-site coaching and technical assistance in the implementation of one or more evidence-based programs that meet the specific needs of their school. Schools randomized to the comparison condition have access to the climate survey results, receive an honorarium for their participation, and receive training in the selected evidence-based programs at the end of the project (September 2015). Climate profiles scores for schools in both conditions are posted here on this site.*
It is important to understand that the posted scores have been attained through the responses to the climate surveys with the inclusion of existing incidence data for each school (details follow). The creation and posting of these scores is a requirement of this grant and much consideration has gone into its calculation. However, it is premature to determine the "value" of the scores, at this time. It is important to view these scores as an initial calculation of BASELINE data collected through the early administration of a newly developed Climate Survey. We anticipate that as the grant comes to a close and multi-year data become available, some conclusions may be drawn, but that is not the case at this time.
*Climate profile scores for the years 2011 and 2012 were revised to incorporate out-of-school suspension and habitual truancy figures aligned with the school year (previously reported scores incorporated figures that lagged by one year).