Overview of ISD Partnership

Steps for implementation

Alt+Shift engages in multi-year partnerships with Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) to strengthen their capacity to sustain improvement efforts at Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and ISD programs, yielding improved outcomes for all students.

Creating sustainable change requires 

  • time
  • reflection
  • new and existing systems and processes
  • student-focused shared vision inclusive of multiple perspectives

Alt+Shift collaborates with ISD leadership teams to address these requirements.  We co-construct training and implementation plans for the improvement effort.

Partnership Applications are currently closed for 2021.

Reach out to us via our technical assistance form if you are interested in future opportunities for partnership.


5 steps: apply, clarify, onboard, prepare, partner

The Prepare phase is designed to:

  • Provide clarification on what the partnership will require of each party.
  • Assist ISDs and Alt+Shift in determining the readiness of the ISD to engage in partnership.
  • Engage in any readiness activities that are needed before training begin.

Explore Partnership

Alt+Shift has created a five step process to move forward with partnership.

  1. Apply - The ISD Director of Special Education and/or Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and applicable ISD/LEA personnel complete the application for partnership.
  2. Clarify - ISD leadership and Alt+Shift personnel will meet to discuss site readiness and clarify expectations for the partnership.  Questions from both parties will be available prior to the meeting.  Preview Alt+Shift’s follow-up questions.
  3. Onboard - ISD leadership will meet with Alt+Shift to discuss the roles, expectations, and goals of the partnership.
  4. Prepare - ISD personnel will engage in any readiness activities that are needed before training begins.
  5. Partner - The ISD team and Alt+Shift begin training, coaching, and meeting.


Training includes initial training, subsequent training, on-going training.  Having a comprehensive training plan supports sustainability and growth of the improvement effort.

Initial training:  During the Prepare phase, ISDs select LEAs and/or programs who will receive the first round of training.  Alt+Shift provides the initial training.

Subsequent training: When new LEAs, programs, or other cohorts are brought on, they will also need the initial training.  ISDs will identify personnel to receive Level 2 Instructor Training from Alt+Shift to be able to provide that whenever the need arises in the ISD.  See “Sustain” below for more information about Level 2 Instructor Training.

On-going training: This refers to job-embedded, continuous training that is needed as part of implementation.  This takes on a variety of forms and is co-constructed by the ISD and their local districts and programs based on need.  Some examples include coaching, peer coaching, refresher training, parent training, and professional learning communities.


Learners cannot benefit from instructional practices they do not experience.  On-going, job-embedded support is critical to implementing new practices learned in training.

Alt+Shift co-constructs and facilitates implementation activities with ISDs as part of partnership.

ISD partners will:

  • Co-construct a strategic implementation plan and implementation supports - The plan outlines how the training will be applied and impact educators and learners.
  • Engage in implementation team meetings - The team will meet every 30-45 days to problem-solve the challenges of implementation and review the strategic plan.
  • Explore coaching - Alt+Shift is available to support and/or modify existing coaching systems, as well as help create coaching systems.  Alt+Shift is also available to provide coaching for ISD personnel who are leading the implementation effort.


Supports to sustain the improvement effort are designed to keep implementers engaged with the work, and connected to resources that will help them as they continue to problem solve and improve.

Networking - Alt+Shift provides in-person and virtual opportunities for educators across Michigan to learn from each other.

Level 2 Instructor Training - During initial implementation, ISD leadership will identify personnel who will engage in Level 2 Instructor Training.  Upon successful completion of Level 2 Instructor Training, course instructors will be able to provide the initial training to new groups within the ISD and technical support to those who have already been trained.

What does Level 2 Instructor Training involve?

  • Prepares ISD and district personnel to become course instructors.
  • Provides opportunities for those course instructors to insert examples, interaction, practice, and reflection into the training sessions.

What steps are involved in Level 2 Instructor Training?

  1. Complete the original training course.
  2. Secure administrative approval to engage in instructor training.
  3. Secure Alt+Shift approval for instructor training.
  4. Sign instructor agreement.
  5. Complete Level 2 Instructor Training.
  6. Co-present the course with Alt+Shift staff.
  7. Secure Alt+Shift approval to be an instructor.
  8. Present the course at least once every other year.
  9. Attend virtual update meetings.

How many days is Level 2 Instructor training?

This varies depending on the training.  The time commitment ranges from 3 to 7 days, spread out over months, and may involve half days or virtual meetings.

How many instructors should ISDs have trained?

We recommend an initial team of 2-4 people.  ISDs are encouraged to add instructors each year to keep the cohort at that level.  Instructors become unavailable for a variety of reasons (change of job, change of availability, retirement, move out of district, etc.).  Recruiting instructors each year helps ensure that instructors will be available.

Why is Level 2 Instructor Training such a long process?

Changing one’s own instructional practices takes time.  Being able to describe those new practices to others takes even longer.  The Level 2 process offers instructors the time and opportunity to reflect, practice, and engage in continuous learning with a peer group.

Level 2 Training FAQ

ISD Director Involvement is Critical

Administrators are essential to creating systems that support implementation or improvement efforts.

Participate in the Improvement Effort

The ISD Director of Special Education will be included in all components of the partnership.  For Foundations of Math, the ISD Director of Curriculum and Instruction will also be part of the partnership.

ISD directors attend all:

  • Partnership exploration meetings in their entirety.
  • ISD Implementation Team meetings.*
  • Training sessions.*

*If the director cannot attend, he/she/they designates someone else who is directly connected to the work who can approve resource-allocations, and set priorities for staff.

ISD directors dedicate staff time to:

  • Attend training sessions.
  • Lead the effort within the ISD.
  • Participate in implementation support activities, such as collaborative planning time, group coaching, etc.

Additional expectations:

  • Set a dedicated, standing meeting time for the ISD Implementation Team every 4-6 weeks.
  • Ensure allocation of financial resources to support and sustain the effort.

Form the Implementation Team

ISD administration and/or designees will select team members.  See “Forming the Implementation Team” for more guidance.

Select local districts and/or programs to receive training

The ISD identifies at least one partnering local district or program who will receive the training and engage in implementation.

Forming the Implementation Team

The ISD implementation team will include

  • ISD stakeholders
  • Director of Special Education and/or Director of Curriculum and Instruction
  • LEA/program personnel
  • An Alt+Shift specialist is part of the team during initial implementation

Ensure that all needed perspectives are represented on the implementation team.  This means involving those that are affected by or have an interest in the improvement effort.  Including these perspectives can

  • Lead to a more effective implementation effort
  • Improve community support and buy-in
  • Generate more ideas and possible solutions to problems as they arise
  • Build a better understanding of the context in which the effort is being implemented

The implementation team collaborates to improve and apply the practices taught during the training.  Each member is an equal partner. 

Team members are expected to:

  • Participate in the full initial training.
  • Participate in all team meetings in their entirety.  Meetings may be in person or virtual.
  • Ensure that technology and/or classroom coverage is set up to support participation.
  • Respond to requests for feedback by the given date.
  • Contribute individual expertise to meetings.
  • Complete assigned tasks and action items by the given date.

Here are some examples of processes to use for analyzing and identifying stakeholders:

Checklist: Identifying and Analyzing Stakeholders and Their Interests

Stakeholder Perspective Template


Stay In Touch

The Alt+Shift newsletter provides updates on our professional learning opportunities, informs readers of upcoming events, and highlights resources for people who work with students with disabilities.