School leaders and teachers have a tendency to rush to implement behavior or academic interventions plans for struggling students, without first taking the time to problem solve why students are struggling in the first place. I witnessed this firsthand in my nearly ten years as a high school assistant principal.
As a first-year high school teacher, it was almost instinctual to pull a struggling learner (often an English Language Learner or a student well below grade level) out of the classroom and work with them individually. Wasn’t this one-on-one attention precisely what this student needed? Wasn’t I helping them by teaching them at their level? They didn’t have to sit through a lesson feeling lost and frustrated, and I didn’t have to worry about them feeling lost in this environment. Instead, I could work with them individually and get them caught up.
While I intended to help, I did not realize I was causing more harm than good, which was evident by my student’s lack of progress by the end of the year. At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of a strong, frequently revised Tier 1 curriculum, differentiated for all learners, and the importance of using interventions as supplemental instruction for struggling learners.
As a professional development consultant for Branching Minds, I work with teachers and administrators from all over the country. A question I frequently get asked is how should progress monitoring look at the middle school and high school levels? If you are a secondary school teacher and are working under the practice of MTSS or the RTI process you have probably scratched your head over this question many times as well. Today you are in luck! In this post, I will discuss why you should be progress monitoring, what assessments are appropriate for progress monitoring, how these assessments are administered, and when you should progress monitor students. My hope is to give you practical steps and tools to put into practice, like Branching Minds, I aim to make the best practices actually practicable!
Secondary teachers and leaders often cite difficulties and frustrations when they are asked about their current RTI/MTSS practice or implementation. My own experience with this work started when a district-level administrator walked into my office (about 2 seconds into my first year as a high school Asst. Principal) and dropped off a thick binder titled MTSS (that used to be titled RTI). Here you go. Run with this and see what you can do. MTSS? In high school? Why, how?
Some leaders don’t see the point of MTSS in secondary schools and think of it as a framework that belongs in elementary schools. Others understand the importance of implementing a strong practice, but when they take steps towards establishing the structures and procedures they meet many challenges and quickly get frustrated, which was my experience almost immediately.
This week we are summarizing our top 10 most commonly used interventions, supports, and strategies for high school students. When implementing MTSS district-wide, secondary students can sometimes fall through the cracks. However, supporting these students to ensure they develop the skills and competencies to graduate and be successful beyond high school is essential. If you are looking to support your secondary level students in 2021, here are some strategies and programs you can check out: