Do you ever find yourself trying to make sense of all the assessments your students are expected to take, only to end up with more questions (and maybe a headache)? When should they take the assessments? Are they for ALL students or only SOME students? Which teachers can administer them? Which students need testing accommodations, and which accommodations do they need?
Educators are juggling an astonishing number of software platforms to help accomplish the goal of better instruction and student outcomes. When data cannot be easily shared between these platforms, teachers and administrators end up looking in multiple places for the data they need, or, even worse, duplicating their efforts as they try to support their students. Enter DATA INTEROPERABILITY.
Data interoperability refers to the ability of different computer systems to connect and exchange information with one another, in either implementation or accessibility, without restriction. (1)(5) Schools need to align their data practices and create standards that enable better connectivity around the suite of products and tools they use. The data interoperability framework provides the context for identifying and debating interoperability issues to make integration within this complex system easier. (2)
One of the most challenging parts of my work as a High School Administrator was coaching my teachers and staff on the importance of making decisions based on assessment data. During my initial one-on-one meetings with my teachers and staff, I would ask them, “What assessment data are you using to drive your decision-making and instruction to meet the needs of your students? Most times, I would get a blank stare, or as my nephew says, I would hear crickets. Other times I would receive a response like this: “I did not need a test to tell me; I just know my students.”
You may have heard the old saying, “Many make decisions by guessing or using their gut. They will be either very lucky or very wrong.” Because of these wise words, educators have worked diligently over the last decade to learn how to obtain, gather, compile, view, analyze and use data to avoid leaving student success to being “very lucky” or “very wrong.”
Within an MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework, educators are asked to collect and understand different data to drive their decision-making process. A successful MTSS implementation will rely on a myriad of data, from screening and progress monitoring assessment data to tier movement and benchmark growth.
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a research-based framework that helps educators identify academic, behavioral, and social-emotional strengths and needs to provide differentiated support for the entire student body based upon their needs. Data is central to the MTSS framework. MTSS utilizes data-based decision making, which includes data analysis and systematic problem-solving through team meetings to make decisions about instruction, intervention, implementation, and whether the support provided to students is working or if additional intervention is needed.
MTSS Teams use data from multiple assessments—such as formative and summative assessments—to plan tiered instruction that is strategized to meet students’ needs. MTSS Teams use the assessment data to engage in strategic problem-solving to identify student needs and plan for intervention and progress monitoring. Assessments can also be used to evaluate school-wide outcomes, make efficient decisions based on those outcomes, and use this data to inform an MTSS action plan.
In an effort to support the high rate of students who have experienced significant learning loss caused by remote learning and continued COVID 19-related instruction interruptions, Texas has recently passed House Bill 4545 (HB4545). This new statute outlines updated requirements for school districts to provide supplemental accelerated instruction for all students who do not meet grade-level requirements in the state’s standardized assessments.
Since this statute was enacted in the summer of 2021, school districts have quickly reacted and developed new procedures to ensure these requirements are met, and students are receiving the accelerated instruction they need. As many Texas Branching Minds partners have already discovered, Branching Minds is quickly adapting and providing districts the help they need to implement these crucial changes successfully.
Beginning in 3rd grade, all students in Texas public schools take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in core subject areas. In high school, the assessment program changes to the STAAR End of Course (EOC) assessments, five of which are required for graduation. According to the Texas Education Agency, students who do not meet grade-level expectations in these assessments are unlikely to succeed in the next grade or course without significant, ongoing academic intervention.
The STAAR data from the most recent testing administration highlights the importance of immediate action towards supporting students. Among students tested in 2021, there was a 4% increase in students that did not meet their grade level in reading compared to 2019 and a 16% increase in students that did not meet their grade level in math (source). We do not have time to waste!
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.
High fidelity RTI/MTSS can only be achieved if teachers have ready and up-to-date access to all of the data associated with their students in efficient and reliable ways. Certain systems and programs make this process more efficient and reliable.
Districts need to find easy ways to sync their student information systems, assessment platform, and intervention management systems so that teachers have the ability to access and add the information they need to support all students fluidly throughout their tiered model of support.
Finding a rostering method that integrates seamlessly and securely with all of your education application partners and meets your RTI/MTSS needs can be challenging. At Branching Minds—a leading RTI/MTSS intervention management system—data interoperability is our bread and butter. In this post, we will review the secure options that we support for sharing district and school-level rostering data to help you determine which best suits your district/school needs.
I often think about an afternoon many years ago when I took my daughter to our local coffee shop to treat ourselves to a special dessert. She was around four or five years old, and as she stood in front of the enormous display of pies, cakes and puddings, she became overwhelmed and said, “What to choose? There is too much of much!” Too much of much... I found such meaning in those unexpected words and as a result, the phrase has stayed with me throughout the years.