College of Education Faculty Receive $1.29 Million Award

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 19, 2008) – The work of hundreds of educators in dozens of schools engaged in transforming education will continue thanks to a grant to the University of South Florida from the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). George Batsche and Michael Curtis, professors in the Psychological and Social Foundations Department and the Institute for School Reform in the USF College of Education were awarded over $1.29 million to continue their “Florida Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention” statewide project.

The overarching goal of the project is to provide successful outcomes for at-risk students and promote a sustained narrowing of the achievement gap for struggling learners. This is accomplished through teacher training and technical assistance in implementing strategic academic and behavioral interventions. Funding to date for the project, which began in March 2006, totals over $4 million.

“This funding enables us to move into the second of three years of collaboration with our eight demonstration districts and 40 pilot schools, as well as the second year of statewide training in the knowledge and skills needed in this major systems change initiative,” said Curtis. USF College of Education Dean Colleen S. Kennedy added, “We are pleased to partner with the Florida Department of Education in bringing research-based practices to over 1,700 educators in our state that will help them improve student learning and promote positive behaviors.”

The Project is intended to support efforts of the FLDOE to address requirements of federal legislation and regulations relating to the delivery of scientifically-based services to students at-risk and those with disabilities. However, the PS/RtI Model is becoming the “way of work” for serving all students. The basic components of PS/RtI are included in broad-based general education reform initiatives such as the Continuous Improvement Model (CIM). The successful implementation of Ps/RtI principles encompasses both general education and special education initiatives.

Fifty school districts are participating in the statewide training component of the project, with 50 district leadership teams, 117 school-based leadership teams, and 1,420 professional educators having completed year one of the training curriculum. In addition, within eight specially selected demonstration districts, project staff provided 74 training sessions for personnel from the 40 pilot schools, and site-based full-time coaches provided another 244 training sessions. Pilot schools were also supported through almost 1000 technical assistance sessions by project staff and coaches. Because the project is just entering the second year of implementation, student impact data are not yet available.

Reflecting the growing interest in the Problem Solving/Response to Intervention Model, Eric J. Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education, in approving the plan for statewide implementation, said, “It is my belief that this framework will promote school-wide practices that align with and accelerate our collective existing efforts to ensure the highest possible student achievement in both academic and behavioral pursuits.”

For more information about the Florida Problem Solving/Response to Intervention Initiative, please visit the Project website:

The USF College of Education is ranked 45th by U.S. News & World Report of graduate schools in the country, is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is fully approved by the Florida Department of Education. The USF College of Education is the seventh largest public college of education in the nation. For more information on the USF College of Education, visit:

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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