School districts are increasingly adopting MTSS/RTI intervention management software to help teachers streamline their documentation work and strengthen their student intervention practice. This is largely due to the evolution of the MTSS/RTI software space, which has grown significantly over the past ten years.
There are two primary factors responsible for this renaissance: 1) advancements in technology and design have finally made their way into education technology, fostering user experience and engagement that delights rather than dismays teachers; and 2) the culture of intervention has shifted from the compliance-driven Response to Intervention protocol, which often felt like a laborious chore, to the more holistic and school-wide practice of Multi-Tiered System of Supports, which resonates with teachers' desire to personalize and accelerate learning in equitable ways.
Now that software solutions are able to play a real and meaningful role in this work supporting educators, it's critical that districts choose their MTSS/RTI intervention management software wisely. Here are five considerations for district and school leaders to keep in mind as they search for a solution that will save their educators time and effort, while driving stronger MTSS/RTI adoptions across their schools.
1. Is the Software Teacher-friendly and Easy To Use?
Many of the solutions in the MTSS/RTI space were developed with the "add-on" mindsets—like an IEP software, assessment tool, or data warehouse solutions that built an RTI module as a way to capitalize on a secondary market.
These "add-on" solutions were often initially designed with a specific stakeholder, set of requirements, and workflows in mind, that have nothing to do with effective tiered intervention models. As a result, many of the solutions in the space that market themselves as an MTSS or RTI solution are actually quite cumbersome to use as a teacher, interventionist, or collaboratively as an MTSS or RTI student support team.
In order for teachers and administrators to make all of the best practices of MTSS/RTI actually practicable, they need to quickly and easily navigate, access, and add to all of the information needed on a daily basis, throughout the school year, and across a student's learning journey.
2. Does the Software Help to Break Down Silos and Increase Transparency Between Systems and Stakeholders?
An effective MTSS practice should be used school-wide and include multiple stakeholders across a school and/or district. Therefore, the software to manage the system should be easily accessible, usable, and manageable for stakeholders from special education to general education to gifted and talented; from academics to behavior to SEL; from service providers like ELL, speech pathology, occupational therapy, school psychology, etc.; and from class to class, from grade to grade, and from school to school—across elementary and secondary.
Stakeholders should be able to document assessments, interventions, progress monitoring, student support meetings, and family communication so that all stakeholders can have access and gain insights into how best to support their students.
3. Does the Software Streamline and Improve Data Flow?
Effective RTI/MTSS hinges on teachers' ability to see the whole child and to leverage all of the viable data to know who needs support, what to do to support them, and whether or not the support provided has helped. To do this work well, teachers need access to all of those data. Fragmented data is a common limitation for districts, but the double entry of data is the kiss of death for any system. When looking for an RTI/MTSS intervention management system, make sure it supports data interoperability.
Check to ensure the solution will sync with your Student Information System and ingest data from your universal screeners, benchmarks, and progress monitoring assessments, as well as streamline data entry for your behavior incidents, family communications, meeting notes, and forms. Some solutions will ingest your data but make it tricky for you to export it, so you are "stuck" in their software. Your school and district's data is its lifeblood; make sure the solution will EXPORT data to other systems, as well as INGEST.
4. Will the Software Make the Schools "Data-Rich, but Information Poor?"
Districts will sometimes select systems and software that provides an abundance of student data but no direction on how the data should be interpreted and used. With significant advancements in the field of learning science, it is now possible for educators to effectively understand which students are struggling and why, as well as the interventions and strategies that deliver the greatest positive impact. Despite expectations for teachers to be up to date on education research and best practices, many teachers are unaware of evolving recommendations for supporting struggling students.
When selecting an MTSS/RTI intervention management solution, look for one that scaffolds teachers' practices so they are aligned with what research has shown to be most effective. In addition to providing student data, effective solutions will guide educators towards understanding the data and using it to better support both staff and students.
5. How Does the Software Reinforce Data-Driven Decision-Making?
Effectively using student data to make decisions and problem-solve is at the core of any successful MTSS/RTI model. Thus, an effective MTSS/RTI software will enable teachers, interventionists, counselors, assistant principals, principals, and district administrators to easily access the insights they all need to support the data-driven decision-making that each stakeholder requires.
When selecting an intervention management solution, consider the different needs of stakeholders and what questions they are looking to answer. Because a lot of problem-solving in MTSS and RTI happens in team meetings, ensure that any system you use supports collaboration and streamlines the process of reviewing student data, analyzing the issue, and developing next steps. At the school or district level, this also includes the ability to identify any progress or issues at a higher level and have direct insight into subject areas or grade levels that need support.
Additional Considerations: Using Product Certifications to Measure Quality
Sometimes just looking at a website or attending a webinar doesn't provide you with enough information about whether or not an intervention management solution can actually deliver on its many promises. This is when product certifications come in handy.
Product certifications are certifications provided by third-party evaluating organizations that establish a protocol for quality standards across the education technology industry. These certifications help district officials by providing a framework of measurement when reviewing products.
When selecting an intervention management solution to support your MTSS practice, look for products that are certified in learner variability, data protection, research pedagogy, and interoperability.
Check out this on-demand webinar:
"Quality Control: Why EdTech Product Certifications Should Matter to District Leaders"