MTSS: In the Know

Stanly County Schools | Multi-Tiered System of Support

August 2016 | Volume 1, Issue 1

A new school year expands success for all!

MTSS implemented in three returning, eight new schools

Central, East Albemarle, and Stanfield elementary schools have helped develop the guidelines and principles of Stanly County's MTSS framework during the past two years. Teachers and staff at these schools have been instrumental in building supports to promote growth and benefit the individual needs of all students.

The 2016-2017 school year welcomes MTSS implementation in eight additional schools, the remaining elementary schools and Albemarle Middle School. Initial supports will be offered to these schools to assist teachers and staff in looking more closely at data to guide instruction and make appropriate "next step" decisions. MTSS encourages open conversation within a systematic problem-solving approach.

Through the "MTSS: In the Know" newsletter, MTSS staff will communicate with schools to keep teachers and staff abreast of the latest developments of MTSS across the state and throughout the district. Each month, the newsletter will feature recent updates, share pertinent information, and celebrate successes in our classrooms and schools.

You (yes, YOU!) are MTSS

MTSS is inclusive of the whole school. Whether you're an administrator, classroom teacher, instructional assistant, curriculum coach, guidance counselor, secretary, data manager, bus driver, custodian, cafeteria worker, psychologist, social worker, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, EL teacher, AIG specialist, resource teacher, parent, or student, you play a role in the success of MTSS. Everyone has different interactions with and perspectives on student performance, so every voice is vital in a decision-making system. MTSS is not about a particular type of student or scenario. MTSS is everyone.

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What is a Multi-Tiered System of Support?

Definition of NC MTSS

NC MTSS is a multi-tiered framework which promotes school improvement through engaging, research-based academic and behavioral practices. NC MTSS employs a systems approach using data-driven problem solving to maximize growth for all.

Digging deeper into academic and behavioral data

MTSS is ultimately the marriage of RTI: Response to Intervention (academic supports) and PBIS: Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (behavioral supports). This framework enables conversations focused on the whole child and, essentially, the curriculum, instruction, and environment of the classroom. While students may not always have weaknesses in both the academic and behavioral domains, the two are often linked and go hand-in-hand where student struggles are recognized. Open conversation focused on both domains at once eliminates the need for two separate meetings about next steps to support the child. Instead, academics and behaviors can be discussed while sitting around a single table.

The tiered system

While we have moved away from numbering the tiers of MTSS, the instructional basis for each has remained the same. Core instruction involves what we deliver to all of our students, and its strength is a key factor in students' success. Supplemental supports focus on small groups of students, while intensive supports provide one-on-one attention for student intervention. More about each of the three tiers is outlined below.

What does this mean for you?

Develop and deliver strong core instruction

The first, most important step in MTSS implementation is ensuring that core instruction is as strong as possible. Simply using the suggested curricular materials is not enough to build a strong core foundation for students. Teachers must use a variety of strategies to target varied learning styles and provide individualized instruction based on student needs. Core instruction should be a balance of whole- and small-group teaching, differentiated work stations, and ongoing formative assessment to guide next steps.

Focus on curriculum, instruction, and environment

Because MTSS promotes positive supports for all students, it is important to not immediately focus all concerns directly on the learner. Teachers must first take into account accommodations being made to the curriculum, instruction, and learning environment to meet the needs of students. Effective MTSS frameworks should be able to confirm strong core practices before looking more closely at problems lying within the students themselves.

Implement and document effective, research-based intervention

The key to supporting students within the MTSS framework is early recognition of their need for additional support. Teachers should immediately begin working with groups of students who share common deficiencies, adding strategies to their toolbox for better understanding the specific skill or concept. Intervention activities should be research-based, offering a "tried and true" basis for their effectiveness.

Teachers should keep documentation of intervention strategies used with students to assist with future supplemental needs. The documentation shows trends of interventions that prove to be effective and support a student's growth and those which do not tend to benefit a student's understanding. Documented interventions are most easily recorded using a shared Google Doc, making note of the date, time and activity while focusing on both quantitative and qualitative data that will support the selection of future interventions being used. Ask your MTSS Coach for a suggested form to be used.

Conversation is stronger than any other evidence

Documenting interventions is the first step in the right direction. From there, teachers should embrace the power of conversation. Include all appropriate stakeholders in discussions about students, including administration, guidance counselor, school nurse, social worker, and other support staff. Being able to participate in open dialogue about students' strengths, weaknesses, interests, goals, and accomplishments is vital to the success of MTSS. Conversation is more valuable than a folder of work samples and a paper trail.

What instructional and behavioral resources promote your implementation of MTSS?

Ask your principal, curriculum coach, and MTSS coach for support in using the following:
  • Reading 3D benchmark and progress monitoring assessments for literacy
  • AIMSweb benchmark and progress monitoring assessments for math
  • MobyMax
  • differentiated, guided reading and math using small-group work stations
  • The Comprehension Toolkit
  • Engage NY math curriculum
  • Words Their Way
  • Core Phonics Assessment
  • Kathy Richardson's Assessing Math Concepts (AMC)
  • Lucy Calkins' Units of Study
  • Reading Foundations
  • Math Foundations
  • Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) / K-3 Formative Assessment Process
  • positive, effective classroom management
  • documented intervention log

This video provides a short overview of NC MTSS from Amy Jablonski, the State Director.

- The faces behind Stanly County Schools' MTSS -

MTSS Support at NCDPI

Our district MTSS team is supported on the State level by Beth Boggs, MTSS Consultant and Trish Scardina, PBIS Consultant, both serving our Southwest Region of the state.