In almost 20 years of experience in education, good intention when it comes to intervention or specifically Response to Intervention (RtI) has never wavered or lacked. As educators, we are passionate about our students and we know that with the “perfect prescript” of support all students can grow. However, at times we may find ourselves settling with our intent as “good enough.” We become overwhelmed with the tasks involved in developing, implementing, and following-up with these support plans. As educators these unmet expectations weigh heavily and too often districts find themselves with well-written plans that lack follow-through. So how can we move beyond “good enough” to become “more than enough” - intervening with fidelity and effectiveness?
Response to Intervention (RTI) and the Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) are data-driven, systemic approaches to providing instruction and intervention at varying levels of intensity based on individual student needs. These models were born out of the necessity for more objective ways to identify students with a learning disability and have since evolved into a more holistic practice that aims to better meet the needs of all students through a streamlined, data-driven approach.
While equity remains at the heart of these models, they remain unproven to have a positive impact on promoting equitable student outcomes. Based on data we’ve collected through the Branching Minds platform and with a close examination of these practices across our district partners, it appears that the systems and structures of RTI and MTSS alone are not enough, and districts need to adopt an equity-focused, self-reflection process that guides their decision making through these practices in order to ensure equitable student outcomes.
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.
I know this election season has been an unusual and particularly contentious one. The near-constant arguing, name-calling and just general melee of the last presidential debate certainly seemed like an invitation to check out from the whole debacle.
Since the early 2000s, school districts across the country have implemented a tiered intervention system like Response to Intervention (RTI). In recent years, many districts have been transitioning their systems to a more holistic Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model. However, like many other areas of K12 funding, how districts choose to fund an RTI or MTSS model can be a complicated question: traditional federal funding streams can be relatively inflexible, but with new funding streams like the CARES Act, passed in March 2020, school districts have greater funding flexibility to implement MTSS.
A three-tiered system of service delivery is a necessary structure to efficiently and effectively support all children, not just those who struggle in school. The three-tiered system of service delivery is crucial in the attempt to ensure all students achieve at high levels and all students achieve college and career readiness.
Last week CASEL shared its updated definition and framework for understanding and implementing Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country’s education system is facing one of the most significant opportunities for learning loss that we have encountered in nearly a century. As educators work to address this reality, they are also tasked with managing a variety of learning contexts from fully remote/virtual classrooms to in-person learning and hybrid models. Many administrators are looking for ways to reduce teachers’ workload to mitigate the stress and burnout that has come along with teaching during a pandemic. Some districts have made the decision to “pause” differentiated instruction or “lighten up” on the best practices of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Unfortunately, this decision will likely have a detrimental effect on student outcomes and create even more work for educators down the road.
As a former special education teacher/case manager and now a special education university supervisor, I have spent many an hour discussing MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports). My university students and I have reviewed the countless interventions and supports they are exposed to during their required observations, practicums, and culminating student teaching experiences. After conducting an informal poll with my most recent cohort, I found that many students felt that MTSS has a confusing reputation in the field. Further, I noticed that some students were using the term MTSS interchangeably with terms such as RTI, PBIS, and even pre-referral screening. As a result, I decided to take a moment to clear up what MTSS is, and what it is not.
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.