The MTSS/RTI team is a school-based, problem-solving team; it is the engine that drives the MTSS/RTI practice. The MTSS/RTI team exists to proactively address system needs by reviewing school-wide data (within grade levels and classrooms) and support individual student growth by helping to monitor progress and make decisions for students at Tier 3.
The site administrator should play an active role in recruiting and ultimately designating the composition of the MTSS/RTI team. The most successful teams consist of volunteers, so it is important that site administrators make an effort to designate members who truly want to be involved. MTSS/RTI team membership is made up of both standing members who contribute expertise from their respective disciplines and those who may be invited to address a specific concern. Examples of standing members on the MTSS/RTI team include: administrator, general education teacher, school psychologist/counselor, dean, content area specialist, ELL teacher, special education teacher, and grade-level or department representatives.
In a healthy RTI/MTSS practice, a data-driven approach is not only important for guiding decisions for individual student needs, but it’s also critical for evaluating the quality and impact of the practice at the school and district level. We recommend that school and/or district leadership meet three times a year, following the administration of universal screening assessments, to reflect on and evaluate their practice. The goal of this meeting is to understand the health of school-level RTI/MTSS practice by looking at the percent of students who are adequately being served by the core, the equity of instruction across demographics, and improvement in student outcome measures since the last meeting. These metrics are used to evaluate the quality of practice across tier 1, 2, and 3 levels of support and guide school-level improvement plans.
Effective progress monitoring is critical for a successful MTSS/RTI practice. In addition to universal screening assessments--which are given to all students three times a year--students receiving tier 2 or 3 levels of support should be given a progress monitoring assessment every other week or weekly, respectively. These data allow us to have better visibility into whether or not our support is working for a given student, and more importantly, when it is not so that we can adjust the intervention approach quickly to better meet the needs of that student. Assessments used for progress monitoring should be quick, skill (not content) based, and valid and reliable (i.e., having demonstrated to accurately and consistently measure what they are supposed to be evaluating). The Center for Intensive Intervention has a helpful chart that evaluates and compares these qualities for common progress monitoring assessments.
RTI and MTSS are data-driven, systemic approaches to providing instruction and intervention at varying levels of intensity based on individual student needs. These models were born out of the necessity for more objective ways to identify students with a learning disability and have since evolved into a more holistic practice that aims to better meet the needs of all students through a streamlined, data-driven approach. While equity remains at the heart of these models, they remain unproven to have a positive impact on promoting equitable student outcomes. Based on data we’ve collected through the Branching Minds platform and with close examination of these practices across our district partners, it appears that the systems and structures of RTI and MTSS alone are not enough, and districts need to adopt an equity focused, self-reflection process that guides their decision making through these practices in order to ensure equitable student outcomes.