During the past couple of weeks, I have facilitated Branching Minds’ “Foundations of MTSS” for two elementary campuses. I asked one of the principals what I should write about in a blog dedicated to MTSS on an elementary campus. She pointed out that she wanted to hear more about the layers of support illustrated in the graphic below. “Okay”, I thought I could work on that.
Every year I head to my doctor's appointment for my annual check-up. This year, I thought about all the screeners that the doctor used to determine my overall health, as well as the conversation we had in her office as we sat at the table reviewing my results.
There is a universal truth when starting any sort of new project, vision, implementation, or system change: a disruption and reallocation of time and resources must be addressed. With the addition of a new goal, there will be a back and forth battle as finite (time, staffing, money) resources are reassigned. To minimize or alleviate the exhaustion that accompanies the tug-of-war, alignment should be the goal of every leader.
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)?
In these stressful times of seeing more struggling students in need of Tier 2 and Tier 3 support, it's easy to glance over Tier 1 needs by thinking they are sufficient. Often times an overview of the data will lead us to believe this common thought, however skimming over Tier 1 data is causing us to miss key red flags that push our numbers of Tier 2 and Tier 3 even higher.
We can address this concern with some “Best Practices” and procedures built into how we meet the needs of all our students. Utilizing data and applying differentiated practices are two critical components to success with all of our students.