The Massachusetts FOCUS Academy (MFA) is offering ten (10) graduate level online or hybrid courses for Spring Semester 2017.

MFA course application is now open to all school districts.

Courses begin the week of February 27, 2017 and end the week of June 12, 2017.

Introduction

The Massachusetts FOCUS Academy (MFA) offers courses to educators that provide the skills, knowledge and instructional strategies to improve the outcomes for all students including those with disabilities in safe and supportive inclusive environments.

General Course Information

The MFA is offering ten (10) courses for the Spring 2017 semester, beginning the week of February 27, 2017.  Please note that some courses will require a face-to-face meeting in addition to the online discussion forum. It is noted in the course description below. Participants will be notified by the course instructor of face-to-face meeting dates and locations prior to the beginning of the course.

Participants will receive 67.5 PDPs upon course completion and will also have the option to purchase graduate credits at a discounted rate through each of the partnering institutions of higher education. Information regarding registration for course credit will be covered by the course instructor at the beginning of the course.

Courses will be taught using the BlackBoard online learning platform. Some technical assistance will be provided, but participants are expected to have basic understanding of the Internet and basic computer knowledge and skills. Participants must also have regular access to the Internet. The courses are asynchronous, and content is delivered through assignments, weekly readings and an online discussion board. This does not mean that these are self-paced courses. Participants are expected to regularly attend class by logging into BlackBoard and interacting with the course instructor and their peers (posting questions, sharing reflections, discussing assignments, etc.).

Educators should plan on spending 8-10 hours each week on coursework and may only be enrolled in ONE course per semester.

Eligibility

Teams of at least two but no more than six educators who are currently working in a Massachusetts Public School District or school are eligible to apply.

Although our criteria indicates that we will only accept applications from a team of at least two educators, there may be extenuating circumstances that prevent you from obtaining another teammate. If you would like us to consider your request to enroll as a solo participant, please send us an exemption request email at mtss@doe.mass.edu for consideration.

Priority will be given to teams using the following criteria:

  • Participation in the federal OSEP grant, The Partnership Project - Attleboro, Chelsea, Methuen, Pittsfield, West Springfield, Winchendon
  • Districts identified by the Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office as a result of special education indicator data − Academy Of the Pacific Rim Charter Public (District), Acton-Boxborough, Andover, Bellingham, Boston, Brookline, Chicopee, Dighton-Rehoboth, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Gateway, Holyoke, Hopkinton, Lynn, Malden, Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence (District), Medfield, Medford, Nashoba Regional, Needham, North Attleborough, Oxford.
  • Approved Private Special Education Schools
  • Participation in the MTSS: UDL Academy, MTSS: Tiered Academic Instruction-Literacy Academy or MTSS: PBIS Academy in 2016-2017
  • Level 5 districts - Holyoke, Lawrence and Southbridge, and Level 5 schools – (Paul A Dever and UP Academy Holland Elementary School in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and the John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford).
  • Commissioner’s Districts – Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield, Worcester
  • Level 3 and 4 districts - Abington, Adams-Cheshire, Amherst-Pelham, Athol-Royalston, Billerica, Boston, Boston Day and Evening Academy Charter (District), Boston Green Academy Horace Mann Charter School (District), Bridgewater-Raynham, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Dennis-Yarmouth, Dracut, Easthampton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Gardner, Georgetown, Gill-Montague, Haverhill, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public (District), Hudson, Leicester, Leominster, Leverett, Lowell, Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter (District), Ludlow, Lynn, Malden, Marlborough, Martha's Vineyard Charter (District), Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual District, Methuen, Middleborough, Monson, Narragansett, New Bedford, New Salem-Wendell, North Adams, Northampton, Northbridge, Orange, Palmer, Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Randolph, Reading, Salem, Saugus, Somerville, Southern Berkshire, Spencer-E Brookfield, Springfield, Taunton, TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School District, Waltham, Ware, Wareham, Webster, West Springfield, Westfield, Weymouth, Winchendon, Worcester.

Application Deadline

Completed applications will be accepted until 5:00 PM Friday, February 3, 2017.

Requirement

The ESE requires each educator to provide a statement of support from their supervisor/principal declaring that the course is aligned with the educator’s and school’s professional development plan. This statement of support should be uploaded to the educator’s application. Failure to provide such confirmation will result in a processing delay and possible non-acceptance into the course.

Courses

Assessment of Students with Disabilities who are English Language Learners  docx format of Assessment of Students with Disabilities Who are Englis
This course will provide educators the knowledge of linguistic and cultural factors and their impact on educational assessments for students with disabilities who are English language learners. Participants will learn strategies for addressing the over identification and disproportionality of students who are ELL in special education.

  • Course taught by instructors from Lesley University
  • Requires 2 face-to-face sections:
    • Section A: Sunday, March 19 & May 28, 2017 (8:30AM-5:30PM)
    • Section B: Saturday, March 18 &May 27. 2017 (8:30AM-5:30PM)
    • Location: Lesley University, University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, Classroom :TBA
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $490
    Apply

Assessment of students with Disabilities who are English Language Learners II – Case Studies  docx format of Assessment ELL Case Studies
This hybrid course provides essential “updating” in regards to the assessment for eligibility of students with disabilities who are also English language learners. Special attention is given to what is additional and or different from assessing English speakers in four areas: linguistic, cultural, legal & research. A process for distinguishing between second language indicators and learning disabilities is studied and selected assessments tools are examined and used with this school age population. Non-discriminatory report writing is emphasized.

  • Course taught by instructors from Lesley University
  • Requires 3 face-to-face sections: 
    • Saturday March 11, 2017 (8:30 AM - 3:00 PM)
    • Sunday April 30, 2017 (8:30 AM - 3:00 PM)
    • Saturday June 3, 2017 (8:30 AM - 3:00 PM)
    •  Location: Lesley University, University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, Classroom : TBA
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $490
    Apply

Collaborative Co-teaching: Meeting the Needs of All Students  docx format of Collaborative Co-teaching: Meeting the Needs of All Stu
This course will provide educators with competencies that enable them to work effectively to design and implement collaborative, co-teaching approaches, and to facilitate the delivery of research-based instruction to all students in the inclusive classroom. Participants will review appropriate assessments for both instructional and non-academic needs of students. 

  • Course taught by instructors from The Center for Educational Services
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $335
    Apply

Creating and Sustaining Positive School-Wide Learning Environments  docx format of Creating and Sustaining Positive School-Wide Learning E
This course is designed to provide educators with the skills and knowledge to design and sustain positive, school-wide learning environments within a tiered system of supports. Participants will review the research regarding the interaction between behavior and learning, and learn successful models of primary, secondary and tertiary supports and interventions. 

  • Course taught by instructors from Fitchburg State University
  • Requires 1 face-to-face section:
    • Saturday, April 1, 2017 (9:00AM – 4:00PM)
    • Location: Fitchburg State University (room TBD).
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285.
    Apply

Differentiated Instruction  docx format of Differentiated Instruction
This course is designed to provide educators the skills to design learning environments that meet the needs of diverse learners including those with disabilities and those who are English language learners within a tiered system of support. Participants will review theories of learning and instruction and the learning characteristics of students with high-incidence disabilities. 

  • Course taught by instructors from Ribas Associates
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285
    Apply

Partnering with Families of Middle and High School Students with Disabilities  docx format of Partner with Families of Middle & High School Students
This course will provide educators with the knowledge and skills required to develop and strengthen collaborative partnerships with families of middle and high school students with disabilities, in order to assist students to successfully transition to adulthood. Participants will learn conceptual frameworks for family engagement; how to build optimal conditions of communication and trust; requirements of the law; asset mapping; and strategies specific to adolescence, family systems, and cultural competence.

  • Course taught by instructors from Federation for Children with Social Needs
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285.
    Apply

Partnering with Families of Preschool and Elementary School Students with Disabilities  docx format of Partner with Families of Preschool & Elementary Student
This course is designed to provide the knowledge and skills required to develop and strengthen collaborative partnerships with families of children with disabilities in preschool and elementary school. Participants will learn models of partnership, the requirements of federal and state laws, research findings, effective communication, family systems, and community resources for students with disabilities and their families. 

  • Course taught by instructors from Federation for Children with Social Needs
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285.
    Apply

Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability 101  docx format of UDL: Addressing Learner Variability 101
In this introductory Universal Design for Learning (UDL) course, participants learn the research basis for and application of UDL to lesson design. Participants engage in teams to also explore helpful technology tools that support instruction in tier one, general education classrooms in order to address the needs of all learners, including diversity of race, socioeconomic, gender, culture, and learning skills. This course is the pre-requisite to Universal Design for Learning: Student Affect and Engagement 201 and Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability in Mathematics Instruction 201. 

  • Course taught by instructors from CAST
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285
    Apply

Universal Design for Learning: Mathematics Instruction 201  docx format of UDL: Mathematics Instruction 201
In this course, participants use what they learned from the pre-requisite Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability 101 to build additional research and application of UDL to math lesson design. Participants also explore helpful technology tools that support math instruction that address the needs of all learners and they collaborate, build, and share these ideas through a community of practice. 

  • Course taught by instructors from CAST
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285
    Apply

Universal Design for Learning: Student Affect and Engagement 201  docx format of UDL: Student Affect and Engagement 201
This Universal Design for Learning (UDL) course is designed to equip participants with the ability to evaluate, create, and recreate lesson plans that ensure the engagement and participation of varied learners, including differences in culture, race, socioeconomic, gender, and language, within a high standards-based curriculum. Course sessions have been created within the context of current Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and local curriculum requirements to ensure alignment with existing academic standards and benchmarks. This course is a follow up to the pre-requisite course, Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability 101.  
 

  • Course taught by instructors from CAST
  • Cost of 3 graduate credits: $285
    Apply

If you have any questions, please send an email to mtss@doe.mass.edu.