A few weeks ago, we posted a blog outlining how to support students’ mental health in an MTSS framework. An important part of this work includes using evidence-based programs and practices that effectively promote students’ sense of well-being. This week, we are spotlighting three school-based programs that have extensive research supporting their impact on students’ social, emotional, and academic outcomes. If your district or school is looking to implement a mental health prevention program, we recommend reviewing this list to see if any of the following interventions meet the needs of your students and staff.
It is early October in Des Moines, Iowa. Educators at Smithfield Elementary School have just finished administering the universal screeners they use for Reading, Math, and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). The MTSS team now has the school’s beginning of year (BOY) baseline data they need to evaluate their progress in helping all students succeed.
The team gathers to review the data. Ms. Powell poses the first guiding question of the meeting: Is our core instruction supporting 80% of our students (i.e., are 80% of students on grade level)?
When discussing behavior management approaches with schools and districts, the notion of restorative practices is commonly brought up as an effective school-wide solution. There are many benefits to using restorative approaches, but it is important for school leaders to have a deeper understanding of what restorative practices entail and how they should be implemented. Below we outline the key components of a restorative practices approach along with guidelines for implementation and how to avoid common challenges and pitfalls. Finally, we discuss how these approaches actually impact schools and students and how they work within an MTSS framework.
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.
Educators are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts of the global pandemic on their students’ mental health and well-being. We’ve known for a while now the negative impacts that social isolation can have on child development. Prior to the pandemic, research showed that isolation and loneliness were often associated with psychological symptoms across childhood and adolescence. Recently, researchers have started to report findings on the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and youth. These research studies show that the social distancing and stay-at-home measures implemented at the beginning of the pandemic resulted in increased reports of depression and anxiety among students. Studies have also shown that these negative impacts are more likely to be amplified for students who were already disadvantaged and marginalized prior to the pandemic (i.e., students of color and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds).
Student goal setting is a topic that is often covered during teacher professional development and in-service days. Educators have naturally been setting goals for students since the beginning of teaching, and goal setting today has become a critical element of an effective MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework. MTSS meets all student’s needs with three levels of support for each school's entire student body. Within MTSS, Tier I (also known as whole class core instruction), the core curriculum should be meeting the needs of at least 80% of all students. Tier II includes whole class core instruction with the addition of targeted instruction for students needing support, often provided in small groups. Tier III is whole class core instruction, additional targeted instruction, and explicit intensive intervention. Support activities provided to students receiving Tier II and Tier III instruction should be robust, research-driven and align to student’s specific needs.
A few weeks ago we put out a blog post which took a critical look at commonly used Reading intervention programs in MTSS. While many educators are aware of the issues and limitations of these programs, some might find it hard to make the recommended shifts in their MTSS practice given the resources available to them. Funding, staffing, schedules, and remote learning are all factors that can affect a district and school’s ability to implement supports and interventions in line with what we know from research and best practices for MTSS.
An effective core reading curriculum, as well as differentiated support for struggling readers, is essential for any MTSS practice. But with the hundreds of reading programs available for districts and schools, it can be difficult to determine which one is the most effective. Below we outline the five most frequently used reading programs and platforms by Branching Minds school districts throughout 2020. We provide a critical overview of the research and evidence base for these programs and outline what educators should be aware of when implementing these approaches. We also include some general recommendations for teachers, principals, and administrators for ensuring that their reading curriculum is effectively meeting the needs of all students.
A strong and effective MTSS model should support all students, no matter their language preference and background. Despite the amount of students in the United States who come from diverse linguistic backgrounds, the programs and supports provided often do not meet the needs of non-English speakers. In addition, students who do not speak English as their first language are often identified as having underlying reading issues, when the problem lies in the proper translational skills from one language to another. For students in Bilingual or Dual-Language programs, the support being provided should also address the learning needs in both languages. The following are examples of programs and practices that can specifically be used within Bilingual and Dual-Language classrooms as well as with students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) to better support their development of reading across languages.
When it comes to improving students’ understanding of math skills and concepts, it is essential for them to feel a sense of efficacy, motivation, and engagement with the material. One way to ensure this is by implementing methods that not only help students solve the problem in front of them but also develop cognitive skills to solve more difficult and complex problems independently.