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 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 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 14-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 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 to be administered to students, parents, and staff at all participating high schools in the spring of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. At the beginning of the initiative, schools were randomly assigned to one of two groups: intervention schools or comparison schools. Upon completion of the survey each spring, a climate profile score is provided for participating schools and is posted on this site, as required by the Office of Safe and Healthy Students. 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 School 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 will 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 safety, 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.
What are School Climate Profile Scores?
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 summer 2014). 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 randomly assigned 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 (summer 2014). 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. The creation and posting of these scores is a requirement of this grant and much consideration has gone into its calculation. Details regarding the calculation methodology are described at the Climate Profile
*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).