MN UCEDD Partners with Russian University to Improve Education of Students with Disabilities

October 2, 2015

The Institute on Community Integration (ICI), University of Minnesota, is partnering with Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University (KSPU) in Siberia to improve the inclusion of Russian students with significant cognitive disabilities in elementary and secondary schools. Through the Global Signature Grants Program of the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), and the Eurasia Foundation's U.S.-Russia University Partnership Program, the Institute's Brian Abery and Renáta Tichá have recently received additional funds to help grow an existing collaboration between ICI and KSPU that resulted in establishment of the International Institute on Progress Monitoring (IIPM) in Fall 2014. The new funding will go toward supporting ongoing academic and cultural exchange of ideas, research, priorities, and policies between the two countries, and help sustain IIPM long-term.

The IIPM and the newly-funded activities both build on ICI's work in progress monitoring, conducted through its Research Institute on Progress Monitoring from 2004-2009. Renáta was part of that center's research staff, which focused on developing a seamless and flexible system of student progress monitoring to be used in K-12 schools across ages, abilities, and curricula. The goal of their current work is to develop and evaluate progress monitoring specifically designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities in Russia, as well as the U.S. This is a particularly timely project because of legislation passed in Russia in 2013 to promote the inclusion of Russian students with disabilities in public schools. "The IIPM and the progress monitoring measures being developed by ICI and KSPU are viewed by our Russian collaborators as an important tool in demonstrating the progress of their students in basic academic and functional areas," says Renáta, who is coordinator of the IIPM at ICI. "This information will be used to evaluate the impact of inclusive education and demonstrate its benefits for students with disabilities in Russia," she adds.

Among the activities supported with the new funding are adaptation of progress monitoring measures to the Russian language and educational system, and development and testing of an app for administering, scoring, and data display of progress monitoring assessment results on touch-screen tablets/computers. At this time, teachers in both the U.S. and Russia have no processes available to determine whether the academic instruction they are providing students with the most significant disabilities is effective, or if those students are acquiring the basic skills needed to access the general education curriculum. These students, a number of whom are non-verbal and only able to respond via a pointing response, have to date been left out of progress monitoring systems. The computer-based system under development will provide students with access to progress monitoring assessments, and give parents and teachers valuable feedback that will allow for the improvement of instruction. "Our hope is that this progress monitoring app will not only be of use in Russia in our current work, but also be a possible future tool for teachers all over the world to use with students who have a variety of educational challenges," states Brian.
FFI, contact Renáta at tich0018@umn.edu or 612/624-5776.


Photo caption: ICI's Brian Abery (center) and Renáta Tichá (to his right) working with educators in Siberia to improve inclusion of children with cognitive disabilities in schools.