Our Model

The Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) project is focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating a model of writing instruction for students with disabilities in grades K-5. The SWIM system supports student progress toward achieving grade-level expectations, attainment of appropriately ambitious instructional goals, and the development of additional self-regulation skills. One major component of the system is an online dashboard that integrates learning map models, instructional resources, and assessments into a single interface. A coaching component is designed to support the model and build teacher capacity in SWIM implementation.

Researchers at the Center for Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS) at the University of Kansas lead the SWIM project. The Iowa State Department of Education, school districts in Iowa, and a project advisory committee are collaborating with ATLAS staff on the SWIM project. The SWIM model is designed to integrate with Iowa's Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) Framework in support of improving literacy outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities.

The SWIM project integrates the Iowa SDI Components with the SWIM Components in one dashboard.

The four-year timeline for the SWIM project includes development, pilot testing, implementation at site 1, and implementation at site 2.

Our Team

Russsell Swinburne Romine

Principal Investigator

Dr. Russell Swinburne Romine, associate director of ATLAS, holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. Swinburne Romine has more than 10 years of experience in the development of large-scale assessments using principles of Evidence-Centered Design and Universal Design for Learning. He oversees more than 70 staff members responsible for the design and delivery of operational assessments in ELA, mathematics, and science. In addition to his role as co-principal investigator on the Pathways for Instructionally Embedded Assessment (PIE) project, he is the principal investigator of the Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) for Students with Intellectual Disabilities project and has been a co-investigator on two Enhanced Assessment Grants, Innovations in Science Maps, Assessment, and Reporting Technologies and the Use of Learning Maps as an Organizing Structure for Formative Assessment Project. He leads collaborative work with the National Center on Deaf-Blindness to develop learning map-based instructional resources for students with significant cognitive disabilities and dual sensory loss and is co-principal investigator on the Writing Interventions to Excel (WRITE) project, focused on instruction and assessment in writing for Alaska native students in high school career and technical education courses. He is a member of the American Educational Research Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the Council for Exceptional Children. He has presented research nationally and contributed to technical reports for the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Alternate Assessment Consortium and multiple funded projects.

Meagan Karvonen

Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Karvonen is Director of ATLAS (Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems), a center at the University of Kansas. In addition to her work on 5E-SESE, she also directs the DLM Alternate Assessment Consortium and is principal investigator of the Enhanced Assessment Grant, Innovations in Science Maps, Assessment, and Reporting Technologies (I-SMART). Dr. Karvonen has nearly 20 years of experience in large-scale assessments for students with disabilities, and in particular, alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Dr. Karvonen has nearly 20 years of experience managing externally funded projects, including serving as PI or co-PI on projects totaling more than $40 million. She has co-authored more than 200 articles, book chapters, technical reports, and presentations.

Jonathan Schuster

Research Associate

Dr. Schuster is currently the English language arts (ELA) Research Lead for ATLAS. He received his doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Kansas. While at AAI, he has contributed to multiple projects involving the development and validation of content learning maps. He worked on a team that developed and validated the DLM ELA learning map that was used to develop an assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. In the Enhanced Learning Maps project, he helped to adapt the DLM ELA learning map to represent the content learning of students in the general education population. The resulting map was the basis for instructional activities with formative assessments. Last, he provided support in the development and validation of the science learning maps developed for the DLM Consortium and the I-SMART project. His research interests include psycholinguistics, with a focus on reading development, and the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension. His current work has concentrated on the impact of text complexity on reading comprehension and the acquisition of critical knowledge and skills involved in writing development.

Ronda Layman

Technical Assistance Provider

Ms. Layman enters this project with more than 30 years of experience working with students with severe and multiple disabilities as a classroom teacher, speech pathologist and special education. She has experience with assistive technology, developing and implementing programs across state and district levels for teachers of students with significant disabilities. Her educational experiences are enhanced and driven by her personal experience as the mother to a son with significant cognitive disabilities. She worked as the Consultant for Students with Significant and Multiple Disabilities and Assistive Technology for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction before taking a position as a Research Project Manager for ATLAS. Within her role she provides support for states within the DLM consortium, develops and implements state wide professional development activities, and chairs Instructional Ad Hoc Committee. She has coauthored and taught many professional development courses, and provided technical assistance to districts across North Carolina in the education of students with complex needs. She has developed an Assistive Technology framework for NC and participated in a universal design for learning professional learning community with OCALI.

Emily Thatcher

Research Project Manager

Emily Thatcher is the Research Project Manager for the Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) OSEP Funded Model Demonstration Grant. Emily has 30 years of experience serving families and students with disabilities, mostly students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Prior to joining KU, Emily was the State of Iowa’s Alternate Assessment Consultant, Project Lead and developer of professional development for the Significant Disabilities focus area of an OSEP funded state personnel development grant, State Coordinator for National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and lead consultant of implementation teams that support educators deliver high quality specially designed instruction and assessment.

Jennifer Kobrin

Research and Evaluation Lead

Dr. Jennifer Kobrin, Research and Evaluation Lead, leads and contributes to ATLAS’ research and development projects. She earned her Ed.D. in educational statistics and measurement from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in educational research and evaluation from Boston College. Before joining ATLAS, she was a senior research scientist at Pearson and a research scientist at the College Board. She also spent three years directing institutional effectiveness and assessment offices in higher education. Her research interests include teachers’ use of formative assessment for instructional improvement, assessment development based on cognitive learning models, and assessment validity. She has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, technical reports, and conference papers on a variety of topics in educational measurement and assessment.

Chelsea Bohnstedt

Research Project Coordinator

Chelsea Bohnstedt is a Research Project Coordinator for the ATLAS Learning Maps team and the SWIM grant. She earned both a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work from the University of Kansas and is currently a doctoral student in instructional design at Baker University. Prior to joining ATLAS, Ms. Bohnstedt was a special education social worker in K-12 schools.

Hamadi Henderson

Technical Assistance Provider