Tiering is an integral part of any Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework. Not only does it help educators identify which students require additional support, but it also provides insight into the health of a district or school’s MTSS practice. When district and school leaders have visibility into the proportion of students at each tier level and how students are moving across tier levels, they can identify gaps in support and develop strategies to strengthen their intervention approaches.
“Our teachers come together to meet about students’ needs regularly, at the individual student level—we just don’t have a way to come together as district leadership and meet about the system needs at the systems level. We don’t have the data or the structures to do that proactive pattern matching so that we could have bigger more positive impacts on improving student outcomes earlier. ”
The insight above was recently shared with me by a district administrator in Florida who was looking to improve their MTSS practice. Similar observations have been shared with me many times before. The most common component of MTSS that schools and districts implement is the student-level problem solving meeting. In almost every school that employs an MTSS model you will find a team of teachers who come together to understand why a student is struggling, what has been done to support the student, and what should be done moving forward. This collaborative problem-solving work at the student-level is critical for student success and effective MTSS, but it is all too often stymied by an absence of systems-level problem-solving that establishes the infrastructure upon which any student-level support can be provided. After all, as the name of the acronym suggests, it is the system that the model is based on and the foundation for student-level problem-solving.
Teaching is hard work. It is mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically demanding. It is also dynamic, engaging, at times even exhilarating, but always meaningful and tremendously important. In a typical year, you could describe most teachers as unsung heroes - paying for materials out of pockets, grading papers, or prepping materials late into the night, always straining to maintain that elusive balance between work and home. But this year... well, this year is not like other years. This year took the scale we use to balance work and home and sold it to the pawnshop for parts.
Supporting students’ social-emotional development has always been essential. But this year especially, educators are realizing the critical role of social-emotional learning (SEL). In remote learning contexts teachers need to come up with creative ways to keep students engaged and connected as well as practice key social skills. Teachers working with students in-person may have found that their students are struggling with more social, emotional, and behavioral issues, given all they have gone through this year.