Question Deadline

June 9, 2022; 5 p.m.

RFP Submission Deadline

June 20, 2022; 11:59 p.m.

Intent to Award On

June 23, 2022 (via email)

Scope of Work

The North Mississippi Education Consortium, on behalf of Mississippi Department of Education, is seeking a multi-year partnership with a qualified organization that will aid in the implementation and training components of Career Academies in no fewer than 40 school districts across the state. This support will include complete educational redesign in selected districts by working with district/school administrators, teachers, counselors, and district central office staff. The purpose of this partnership is to:

  • support the MDE’s Career Academy Initiative,
  • improve academic growth and achievement for high school students, and
  • prepare all students for further study and high-wage, high-demand careers.

The organization will help the MDE in the development, implementation, and cross-curricular design process of new Career Academy Programs, as well as provide additional support to the already existing Career Academy Programs.

High school career academies date back over fifty years and have been a growing presence in the country for the last quarter century, and many schools and districts have embraced the approach. There are an estimated 7,000 career academies in operation, enrolling about one million students. Extensive research (MDRC experimental study; Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley quasi-experimental studies) has shown that the impact of career academies has been felt from an academic, economic, workforce development, and social perspective. Career academies are designed to prepare students for both college and careers. They are schools within schools that link students with peers, teachers, and community partners in a structured environment that simultaneously fosters both academic and professional success.

The organization working with the MDE will provide on-site professional development, coaching, and technical assistance services to help each school successfully transform into individualized small learning communities with specific career foci for students by planning for and implementing the National Career Academy Coalition’s Career Academy Model. Successful career-themed academies require a complete school redesign. The organization’s support plan and implementation of that plan will include:

  • curriculum development,
  • innovative | instruction methods that must include cross-curricular academic cohorts, 21st century Career Academy professional development, and
  • student support services centered on career themes in career academies.

The organization’s plan shall reflect the considerable work that must be done in order to aid the growing number of Career Academy Districts in Mississippi in realizing their ambitious goals for academy development and implementation.

Mississippi has many Career Academy schools and districts in various stages of implementation, and the organization must improve each unique Academy while holding true to the NCAC’s National Standards of Practice.

The organization’s plan must also include adequate time and support to achieve the goals set forth by the MDE, including proof of adequate staffing and institutional knowledge of Career Academies sufficient to accomplish the goals. The organization will aid the MDE in training districts how to implement personalized small learning communities where each student is connected to one of these schools-within-a-school by identifying a career choice of interest that will serve to define their high school educational plan and goals, course selections, extracurricular activities, industry certifications, dual credit, and work-based learning opportunities. Because Career Academies are so complex, the organization must show that they have extensive experience working with districts/schools to implement the NCAC Career Academy model with fidelity.

The organization must aid the MDE in helping prepare Career Academy Districts/Schools to achieve the following:

    1. Reduction of failure rates, improved CTE completion rates and improved high school graduation rates through engaging, relevant coursework and increased opportunities to complete assignments directly related to the individual student’s interests and career aspirations.
    2. Every student has an educational focus that leads to and/or includes specific positive outcomes enhancing that student’s opportunity to achieve their career aspirations regardless of whether they go directly into the workforce or into post-secondary education without remediation.
    3. The entire faculty owns the goal of graduating students postsecondary and career ready by mastering and implementing all Career Academy principles and embracing the ten (10) NSOPs;
    4. There are relevant learning experiences in all classes and students see a connection between course standards and what is required to fulfill their personal life’s goals and/or career aspirations.
    5. There is a climate of high expectations and each student experiences rigorous and relevant cross-curricular Project-Based Learning assignments and each academy department aligns curriculum and content accordingly.
    6. There is an organizational and scheduling structure for academic cross-curricular teams of teachers with common planning times to advance students’ readiness for careers and postsecondary studies.
    7. There is a collective mission of the school to close gaps that exist among minority populations in opportunities, experiences, and expectations.

The following are a set of proposed goals for a two-year project, with a bi-annual review of services. The organization will aid in the implementation and training required to achieve all these goals.

The organization must be prepared to work with MDE and selected districts/schools to set specific target goals to ensure the plan of work is implemented with results. The organization, alongside the MDE, will work to build capacity over time in the districts that are implementing Career Academies across the state. This process of maintaining a network of Mississippi Career Academy ecosystems will lead to a sustainable initiative that will serve the students of the state for years to come. The organization, under the guidance of the MDE, will engage the faculty and staff of member schools in adopting, mastering, and implementing academy goals.

By the end of the project, the MDE expects Mississippi Career Academies to:

    1. Have made progress in a number of student performance goals according to state accountability measures.
    2. Have implemented comprehensive reforms that include improvements in school design and classroom practices with special emphasis on curricular alignment across all four academic subject areas and the career themed classes as well as implementing Project Based Learning as the dominant assessment method.
    3. Have developed school and teacher leadership capacity to be able to redesign the school and expand Career Academies to additional schools. Create teams of leaders who will expand and train other leaders.
    4. Have created organizational structures that support teachers working together in new Academy departments rather than traditional academic departments. The organization must train teachers how to accomplish this practically and on a daily basis.
    5. Prioritize and train staff on providing personalized extended support services to every student that will lead to the highest probability for success for each-and-every child.

These goals support the following State Board of Education Strategic Goals:

    1. All Students Proficient and Showing Growth in All Assessed Areas
    2. Every Student Graduates from High School and is Ready for College and Career
    3. Every School Has Effective Teachers and Leaders
    4. Every Community Effectively Using a World-Class Data System to Improve Student Outcomes
    5. Every School and District is Rated C or Higher

Additionally, the organization’s efforts will assist MDE’s goal of obtaining “Model” status in each Career Academy based on the National Career Academy Coalition’s (NCAC) National Standards of Practice (NSOP) and national reviews. The majority of the support will be targeted toward NSOP 7, Teaching and Learning, while also supporting the MDE staff in work toward NSOP 4, Faculty and Staff, NSOP 5, Professional Development and NSOP 10, Sustainability. Professional development and coaching services will enable participating districts to realize their goal of creating greater opportunities for their students, while simultaneously accomplishing the educational goals of the state of Mississippi.

Specific Scope of Work and Responsibilities are to Include

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is seeking an Offeror that has experience with providing Career Academy coaching, professional learning and planning services to teachers, counselors and administrators in grades 8-12.

The successful Offeror will serve as an educational support team to MDE and local education agencies (LEAs) and will provide cohesive, on-going, classroom-focused (job-embedded) professional development and Career Academy instructional coaching for a select number of identified public schools serving students in grades 8-12. The MDE will work with the Offeror to identify the individual schools for which they have the capacity to provide support. The Offeror must provide an adequate number of qualified coaches to service up to and including 40 districts across the state. The MDE seeks to support a maximum of 40 districts throughout the state that serve grades 8-12. Support must be differentiated by school, based on needs of the administration, staff and student performance data, while maintaining rigor, engagement, and alignment to the National Career Academy Coalition’s 10 National Standards of Practice.

  1. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must have a proven record of successful implementation of a similar program or scope of work described herein, as demonstrated by school or district level performance data (state or local), in addition to demonstrating evidence of:
          • Providing large or small scale supports to local school districts in the area of Career Academy development and implementation.
          • Working with administrators, counselors, curriculum directors, teachers, and/or content teacher leaders to evaluate, develop, execute, and communicate an instructional plan of action based on the Career Academy Model.
  2. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must be willing to work in-person and virtually (through ZOOM, TEAMS or similar secured conference platform) with a select number of schools based on MDE’s evaluation of local level Career Academy development assessment data in grades 8-12.
  3. Offeror to develop and execute an individualized/customized instructional plan of action (POA) for each district/school. Instructional supports may be added (or modified) to the POA if determined and agreed upon by the school leadership, and communicated with the MDE. These changes should be identified in the written monthly update/report described in the subsequent paragraphs.
          • The instructional (POA) described above must be evaluated and shared with the MDE within seven (7) calendar days of finalizing each district/school (POA). The results may be included in the immediate, upcoming monthly update/report.
  4. Offeror must be able to identify a project manager that will serve as the main point of contact for all correspondence between the MDE related to the services offered. Said project manager must be able to:
  5. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must have working-institutional knowledge of the Career Academy model.
  6. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must have working-knowledge of current resources developed by the MDE to support the teaching and learning process in Career Academies within the prescribed districts/schools.
  7. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must be willing to provide:
          • in-person training, modeling and/or co-teaching (beginning no later than Month 2),
          • alignment of standards, curriculum and content amongst the Career Academy Cohort, and
          • support in the development of Career Academy cross-grade articulation continuums. This support may be in-person or virtually (through ZOOM, TEAMS or similar secured conference platform) and include assistance using the state-adopted textbooks and/or district-purchased instructional materials for academic cross-curricular project-based learning to enhance instruction.
  8. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must work with the leadership team at each selected district/school to coordinate pre-conferences, in-person observations, assessments, in-person modeling and/or co-teaching experiences, and post conferences. Post conferences may occur in-person or virtually (through ZOOM, TEAMS or similar secured conference platform). Offeror and/ or instructional coaches must be willing to participate (i.e., present or facilitate sessions) in at least one (1) agreed upon state-wide professional development opportunity being hosted by the MDE with open enrollment for Career Academy faculty, staff and/or teachers (e.g., conference, training, professional development, summit, etc.) that may occur between May 1, 2022 and May 30, 2023.
          • All materials, resources, handouts, etc. that will be presented/used at said learning or professional development opportunity must be reviewed (and, where appropriate, modified based on suggestions) two (2) weeks prior by the MDE.
  9. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must be willing to provide cross-curricular content expertise in the form of minimal written or verbal feedback on Career Academy instructional resources, documents, and/or materials that may be developed by the MDE.
  10. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must be willing to work with the MDE to coordinate, develop and deliver at minimum three (3) full-day regional professional development workshops for a cohort of selected teachers from the selected districts/schools being served under this contract. The aforementioned cohort of teachers will be identified in conjunction with the MDE based on data discussions. Scheduling TBD by the Offeror and MDE.
  11. Offeror and/or instructional coaches must demonstrate the ability to be flexible to meet Mississippi and/or requirements and timelines.

Timeframe

The anticipated initial contract period shall be July 1, 2022 through April 30, 2024.

Renewal of the contract for additional years shall be at the discretion of the MDE and shall be determined annually and is contingent upon legislative appropriations, successful completion of the services in the preceding time period of the initial contract, and performance evaluation.

A contract may be awarded to the vendor whose proposal is determined to be the most advantageous to the State, taking into consideration the price and the evaluation factors set forth in the solicitation.

Deliverables (Timeline for the Deliverables): As per the timetable of work over the two-year period and based upon individual district needs.

Leadership Capacity and School Organizational Structure

Each school, with district support, will implement key features for achieving performance outcomes through a career academy. Leadership for continuous improvement is a vital foundation for this effort followed closely by a school organizational and scheduling structure where teacher teams can work together to implement research-based instructional practices with fidelity through professional learning communities. A continuous improvement structure includes:

  • Having school and teacher leaders sharing a common vision for transforming the school so each individual person takes ownership of the improvement efforts by planning to achieve the vision in year one and implementing the changes required in succeeding years.
  • Creating a culture of continuous improvement where all teachers collaborate to develop plans to address problems in the school and use ongoing professional development and study teams to improve their practices.
  • Having school leaders support teachers to improve their instruction through effective planning and follow-up to professional development, use of classroom observations with feedback and a continuous focus on instruction as key to the school’s success.

These goals provide a vision for improvement and will be the foundation for the support to be provided. Offeror supports schools having a functional mission of preparing more students for rigorous high school courses — and, ultimately, for most students to graduate prepared for college and careers. This mission will drive the improvement efforts of this project. While this work will be done primarily by MDE staff, Offeror will provide Academy Design Coaching support as directed by MDE staff.

Student Performance Goals

At the end of two years this partnership will have laid the foundation for continuous improvement in a number of student performance indicators including:

    1. Percentage of students receiving credentials/certifications and/or qualifying scores on the College and Career Readiness Indicator for state accountability.
    2. Percentage of students scoring at or above grade level on statewide English Language Arts, Science,
    3. The number of students who go on to post-secondary studies but do not require remedial coursework.

Quality Assignments to Improve Rigor and Relevance

Student assignments that result in deep learning are important to raising student achievement. Teachers must create relevant assignments and find ways to help students master content. The focus of this training is: (1) to guide teachers in crafting high-quality assignments, and (2) to help educators understand the powerful impact that assignments can have on teaching and learning. Teacher leaders will participate in Quality Assignments training sessions to include professional development and job-embedded technical assistance. The ultimate goal for this initiative will be for multidisciplinary teams of teachers assigned to career-themed academies to create cross-curricular Project-Based Learning (PBL) units that apply the standards of the content area in a real-world scenario where students are required to solve problems that may be encountered in a field relevant to their career cluster.

Professional Development and Coaching for Teachers on Strategies for the Design and Delivery of High-Quality Assignments Using Powerful Instructional Practices

This will also include activities related to customizing assignments to address state standards within the theme of the career academy to ensure relevance and student engagement. Literacy Professional Development: Offeror’s literacy professional development shows academic and CTE teachers how to create literacy-based assignments to engage students in using reading grade-level texts in all subject areas and expressing their deep understanding of those texts orally and in writing. Offeror supports teachers with out-of-class guided instruction in planning assignments that engage students in challenging learning experiences in addition to embedded classroom coaching and feedback. Career Academy principles and standards will be utilized to deepen instructional practice as it relates to each discipline. Mathematics Professional Development: Offeror math professional development helps teachers to shift their instruction from a procedural, test-prep approach to a balanced approach in which students learn how to apply math concepts to solve complex abstract and real-world problems within their career theme. Math teachers use formative assessment lessons and strategies to enhance students’ procedural fluency and ability to apply knowledge and reasoning skills.

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning professional development and coaching will equip teams of teachers to work together to improve their assignments both in academic and technical classrooms. Academic and CTE teachers will form teams according to the academy assigned and use a rubric to assess their current assignment practices and strategies to redesign their assignments. The redesign of the assignments will provide opportunities for students to apply their critical thinking, problem solving and literacy skills to complete the assignments. The teachers will also learn and practice how to work collaboratively on assignments to increase the rigor. Teachers will create PBL assignments that:

  1. Take several days/weeks/months to complete and would involve a blend of learning — classroom lab, team and independent learning — along with enabling learning activities.
  2. Use higher-order thinking skills for critical thinking and problem solving, exercising judgment, and researching, designing, building, testing, evaluating, and revising work or projects.
  3. Do background research by reading books, technical documents, articles by experts, etc.
  4. Have both formative and summative assessments with feedback and opportunities for relearning and revision.
  5. Have students to reflect on what they are learning and see a connection between academic and CTE studies.
  6. Learn to fully integrate technology and software to complete projects.
  7. Frame or refine the project/problem, develop possible solutions, prepare a work plan, develop a logical argument for the plan; do authentic work that would be expected in the workplace.
  8. Demonstrate 21st Century Skills, defined by industry.
  9. Apply core academic skills in literacy, mathematics, and science to the final exhibitions of the PBL assignments.

Types of Services

Virtual, Face to Face and Hybrid, across the State of Mississippi

Special Qualifications:

The organization that wins the contract must have extensive experience in all aspects of Career Academy planning, development, and implementation with regard to adherence to NCAC’s 10 national standards of practice. This experience must include working directly with schools, on-the-ground in all these areas of expertise.

Additional Desired Qualifications: Must have experience in professional development techniques involving cross-curricular academic Project-Based Learning, capstone project development and implementation, and master scheduling. The organization must include evidence of successful Academy implementation of similar/exact services rendered in the past to other school districts.

Evaluation Criteria for Services

Bi-Annual relevance, effectiveness, impact, coherence, efficiency, and sustainability evaluations done by the MDE Academy team.

Minimum Qualifications as Related to the Scope of Work

The entity should have a minimum of three (3) years of experience with all of the entity’s trainers having a valid license or a specialized training certificate. Additionally, the entity’s trainers must have either a Bachelor’s degree with five (5) years of experience or a Master’s degree or higher with three (3) years of experience as an educator.

Special Qualifications:  Specialized certification, experience, and training in delivering literacy professional development aligned to the science of reading.

Budget

The entity should provide a budget for the proposed services/scope of work.

Do you have questions?

Any questions pertaining to this RFP should be emailed to Mrs. Susan Scott at sscott@olemiss.edu no later than June 9, 2022 by 5 p.m. Emails will not be responded to, rather, all questions and answers will be posted below for public viewing no later than June 14, 2022.