MTSS: In the Know

Multi-Tiered System of Support | Stanly County Schools

October 2016 | Volume 1, Issue 3

School Psychology Awareness Week

November 14-18, 2016

Much of students' readiness for school and daily instruction is dependent upon their social and emotional state, often unrelated to the school setting. Teachers should include school psychologists in discussions of student concerns, where appropriate. Psychologists are important stakeholders for students who have issues and concerns beyond the instructional classroom. Reach out to these important people and include them in your problem-solving strategies.

The goal of School Psychology Awareness Week is to highlight how taking small steps can build greater successes and develop the academic and social-emotional skills students need to promote personal achievement, growth, and resilience, as well as a sense of belonging and wellbeing. Resources and messaging can be adapted to students and adults, different age groups, and multiple contexts.

As we problem-solve, it is important to remember that we cannot confirm "learner" issues if there are prominent environmental barriers. We must better understand the root causes of environmental concerns before deeming weaknesses as student-prompted issues.

To become more aware yourself, visit the National Association of School Psychologists website for helpful resources and information.

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MTSS coaches are conducting walkthroughs

Teachers may notice their MTSS coach coming into the classroom, observing, and making notes of what is happening in the classroom. Observation is key to further understanding student concerns and helps to better determine "next steps" for moving forward.

During these observations, coaches are not visiting the classroom for any form of teacher evaluation. Coaches have specific look-fors during their walkthroughs, all targeted at four key elements for understanding possible causes of student concern.

  • Curriculum: Is the student ready for this instructional material or standard? Have prerequisite skills for this activity been achieved?

  • Instruction: Is the student responding to the instructional strategies put in place by the teacher? Have learning styles and varied instructional modalities been considered? Is the student authentically engaged in learning?

  • Environment: Is the student responsive in the set environment? Would other grouping strategies or placement be more beneficial for the child?

  • Learner: What other barriers could be impeding learning? How might these be addressed if the curriculum, instruction, and environment are strong?

These walkthrough observations become beneficial in future PLCs when student concerns are discussed. Having another set of eyes to observe the student in the natural setting provides opportunities for collaboration among teachers and the coach to better develop plans for supporting students reach their greatest potential.

promote Early Intervention

Research-based intervention produces proven results

While any and every bit of additional instruction and support we offer struggling students will only help their skill set grow, it is imperative that we shift our focus of interventions to those that are research-based and sound in their outcomes. Interventions should not be haphazard, "fly by the seat of your pants" activities. To be effective, we must know the tried and true growth they have offered in other similar situations. There should be rhyme and reason to what we are selecting as interventions, and systems for their selection should be thoughtful and explicit.

Interventions should be:

  • specific, a clear strategy or activity determined that is hopeful for making a gain with a student's understanding and performance.

  • prescriptive, given a clear purpose with short- and long-term goals for a student to achieve.

  • consistent, provided over a specified amount of time, offering deeper insight of its effectiveness for student growth. Interventions should not be deemed inappropriate after only a handful of attempts. Students should be given time to develop their skills with the intervention.

Remember, progress monitoring is not synonymous with intervention. Progress monitoring is used to determine the effectiveness of instruction and intervention but is not an intervention itself. Interventions are put in place to support students with a different way of approaching a skill or concept, an added layer of support to better make sense of what is being taught. Assessment is not a means of deepening students' thinking.

quantitative Intervention documentation

As teachers maintain documentation of interventions used with students, quantitative data is most beneficial and helpful for better developing intervention plans. Numbers speak volumes and are more easily understood when seeking trends and patterns in student performance.

Qualitative data, such as notes like - struggling; still showing difficulty; making some progress - may mean something at that time to the teacher who is writing it. For others to look at it, it means little. Struggling? compared to when, compared to what? Making some progress? ...enough progress, how close to the goal? While these comments tell teachers IF the child is making progress, they are not as helpful as having numbers.

Quantitative data can help us see a better picture of HOW interventions are working. If we see a student's fluency increase from 43 words per minute Monday, to 48 wpm on Thursday, to 56 wpm the following Tuesday, we can determine that the instruction is making a difference and that the intervention and strategies should be continued. Solid data paints a better picture for understanding how to progress and move forward with instruction.

PBIS says "NO!" to bullying

While many schools celebrate National Bullying Prevention Month throughout the month of October, these are important practices to instill in our children throughout the entire school year. Setting up our behavioral systems with an intolerance for such behaviors only strengthens PBIS systems being put in place throughout our district. This tone sents a solid foundation for creating safe environments for learning and developing strategies for handling such behaviors. An awareness of bullying promotes stronger PBIS systems.