Technology has quickly become a fact of life for educators worldwide. I remember being in the classroom as a secondary teacher and witnessing the quick succession of my trusty whiteboard to an overheating-prone projector to an always-needing-an-update interactive whiteboard. Education and technology have quickly become codependent entities, and the abrupt transition to remote learning in the 2020-2021 school year only solidified this reality.
However, technology does not have to be the enemy. Technology offers the potential to streamline our processes and alleviate the workload of tasks that once consumed the evenings of teachers everywhere. When it comes to implementing MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports), technology can be the make or break between a successful system of MTSS or the dreaded next failed initiative.
Let’s take a moment to consider how technology is changing the way we implement MTSS:
Technology is Improving...Access to Research and Information About MTSS Needs
Many sites offer educational pieces to get educators up to speed on MTSS best practices and terminology. With the ease of casual internet search, educators have access to more information than ever before, including access to blogs, webinars, videos, and published research.
Branching Minds offers an extensive resource library of free research-based webinars and blogs on various MTSS topics, from the bare-bone basics to the intricate inner workings of creating MTSS teams to organizing effective, data-driven meetings (check out best practices for MTSS meetings here). Information on the cycle of MTSS, tier levels, interventions, core curriculum, and best practices is readily available to help educate a cohort of educators during the early stages of MTSS implementation.
This knowledge sharing extends beyond software providers. Education blogs, social media platforms, and nonprofit intervention warehouses contribute to the open-access of information necessary when implementing MTSS. This access to information ensures a shared knowledge environment for educators.
Technology enables schools to collect, consume, and analyze data much faster than in previous decades. With the creation of MTSS software programs, such as Branching Minds, data can be housed in one platform, enabling educators to gain quick insights from data ranging from attendance to universal screeners.
Prior to today and the days of installing MTSS education software, educators would have to conduct their own data collection and spend hours analyzing this data across an individual student's wide breadth of fields. Accurate data analysis of the whole student was time-consuming and cumbersome.
With MTSS software programs, data can be quickly broken down into specific skill areas, reports can highlight at-risk students and intervention utilization, progress monitors can be quickly scheduled, and bulk tiering is done with a click of a button.
For states requiring detailed intervention reports, technology is instrumental in collecting the required documentation and data required to fulfill this need. This alleviates the workload that was previously part of MTSS and is a great tool to create staff buy-in when introducing MTSS.
With more efficient data collection, data analysis and data-driven decision-making become more feasible. Administrations have access to insights into behavior and attendance trends, allowing for proactive strategies to be instigated before small trends become larger issues.
Quick turnaround on data from progress monitoring enables educators to respond quickly to amending intervention plans. Early insights from universal screeners can help professional learning communities have ready-to-use data to drive their instructional decisions.
Technology is the bridge between massive quantities of data and effective data usage. With the availability of digital tools which make data collection and analysis more efficient, MTSS becomes a feasible option for effective intervention planning.
Technology is Improving...Access to MTSS Resources
MTSS depends on a collection of resources. Educators need access to research-based interventions and learning supports to implement a strong, differentiated core curriculum.
With the evolution of online assessments, interventions can be automatically integrated into the same platform to target the specific skill areas identified in the screener. Intervention providers will also incorporate their own progress monitoring, allowing for ongoing data monitoring throughout an intervention plan.
Before the boom of EdTech, these interventions were manually created and planned by educators. While this process can still occur, digital interventions allow for a more targeted, student-specific approach with the capabilities to incorporate high-interest interfaces, increasing student engagement.
By removing the need for teachers to create their own interventions, educators have more time to monitor whether intervention plans are successful and how to amend their core curriculum to target the needs of their students.
Technology is Improving...Access to Research-Based Sources When Choosing Interventions Used in MTSS
With the ease of access to the internet, technology creates a platform for information to be shared almost too easily. When utilizing a digital intervention program or seeking guidance online, it’s essential to remember that not all available resources are research-based.
An MTSS software can help filter the abundance of information and interventions accessible through a simple internet search. Free resource websites, such as Intervention Central, can also help identify evidence-based strategies and tools and provide further insights into intervention programs.
It’s also a great idea to refer to how a resource is categorized byESSA standards (Every Student Succeeds Act) to validate whether or not the resource is evidence-based. The Branching Minds resource library tags all interventions and learning supports based on ESSA standards. Educators can quickly filter resources based on the desired level of research, from "Strong" all the way to "Research-Based." This removes the need for teachers to spend time conducting their own research and makes implementing interventions easier, faster, and more reliable.
Technology has smoothed the way for schools looking to implement MTSS. It has dramatically alleviated the work required of individual teachers, administrators, and support staff. Access to information, efficient data collection, and a robust world of resources means that teachers now have the tools they need to be effective MTSS educators.
While learning a new software, platform, or program may appear daunting at first, the benefits of incorporating technology into your MTSS plan guarantees a smoother and more efficient transition. With less time spent gathering resources and collecting data, educators can go back to focusing time on the heart of teaching: quality instruction and building a great relationship with every student.
Do you know the quality of your MTSS implementation? Take these MTSS Quizzes to find out
Branching Minds offers a variety of professional learning opportunities for states, districts, and schools to ensure instructional leaders, specialists, coaches, and teachers are able to implement RTI/MTSS as well as the BRM platform with fidelity and maximizes educators’ efforts to accelerate learning for all students.
Mollie Breese is the Content Manager at Branching Minds. She helps streamline the support library, so schools can identify and access the interventions they need to support student success. She researches the newest strategies, activities, and programs to add to the robust library, providing a wealth of resources for partner schools. Prior to joining Branching Minds, Mollie worked in the classroom as an English teacher, Reading teacher, and ESL instructor. Mollie earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Missouri, and her M.A. in English Literature from the University of Glasgow.