MTSS in TSD - Weekly Wednesday News

2022-2023 Series - Volume 33 (April 26, 2023)

This is our thirty-third edition for this school year! We appreciate your readership!

We use this newsletter to make connections regarding the implementation of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework in the Thompson School District (TSD).

> Access last week's edition.


MTSS and TEE: Who we are, What we do

Here again is the single sentence ("one-liner"), that we have suggested over time and referenced last week:

MTSS is about the effective convening of

adults to improve outcomes for students.

That is "short and sweet", and it is an accurate abbreviation. Other sentiments shared last week were also meant to continue our "myth-busting" and "demystifying" of MTSS. It should not be seen as jargon or confusion. Because it is integrated and comprehensive, it might seem like MTSS is too complicated or too conceptual. That should not be the case. We can talk about it the way CDE used to introduce the UIP. Even though a Unified Improvement Plan should be "unifying" all types of plans and efforts into one system-wide plan, it is not necessarily an "easier" plan. It is "big" and takes intention to do it well, but it is manageable and actionable if it is developed thoughtfully and strategically.

Similarly, MTSS is "all things we do" all in one. We have often called the MTSS framework "the business of schools." It's an organizational two ways!

  • It helps us to organize what we do,
  • And it is a framework about all the elements within our organization.
  • It includes general education...and...special education...and..."every" education!

We might ask: Who could deny that a school or district identified as successful would have these five CO-MTSS Components in place as a part of the culture and daily experience?
  • Team-Driven Shared Leadership
  • Data-Based Problem Solving and Decision-Making
  • Family, School, and Community Partnerships (FSCP)
  • Comprehensive Screening and Assessment System
  • Layered Continuum of Supports
    (of Evidence-Based Practices, Instruction, and Interventions)

That is how "simple" (and complex) MTSS implementation is; it demands clear, consistent connections within each Component and across all of them. Maybe you are working on some practices and not yet meeting fidelity with all your systems. That is what we ask people to work on, and within TSD, we do see each of these Components in play.

  • For example, Implementation Teams action plan for each of their family, school, and community partners as they engage in decision-making to define tiers of support for an inclusive, supportive culture that is assessed with UIP progress for each evidence-based major improvement strategy they adopt.

With each school, program, or district priority, we attend to each CO-MTSS Component and use implementation science to analyze our stages and to provide direction for our continuous improvement. (Supplemental resource: MTSS introduction/overview slides.)

Another notion mentioned last week was our recurring theme in this newsletter series on "what we can control".

  • Those are called the Alterable Variables (i.e., environment, curriculum, instruction, and assessment).
  • In TSD, we have operationalized these Alterable Variables as our Thompson Educational Expectations (TEE).
  • These are "within our sphere of influence"; we have the capacity to change each of the Compass Points because they are Alterable Variables.

Think about District Expectations and possible Local Flexibility.
  • We like to say that there are Acceptable Variations, and those are the localized, customized practices that may occur. (Just like there are "acceptable variations" for a learning structure or intervention protocol.)
  • We know that when there is an Acceptable Variation, it should still "look like, sound like, and feel like" what it is supposed to be.
  • So, we should still be able to identify the District Expectation: the centralized or system-wide, systematized approach.

Remember that TEE stands for Thompson Educational Expectations. ;-) And we should be aligned to the TEE Compass Points for each learning experience...for each adult and student.
Click to access: Solution Tree Free Resources

We have promoted these resources in the past. This link will take you to the RtI at Work section, which aligns to CO-MTSS and PLCs. You may create a free account to view/download available handouts. Note: Direct questions to the TSD MTSS Coordinator.

Blog Revisited: Evidence-Based Literacy (Tier 1)

This is a reprint/paraphrase of a blog posting that was published on the TSD MTSS Blogs two years ago (4/30/2021). The recommendations have resonance and relevance. Consider viewing the full video (time-permitting) that is summarized here.


This brief (10 minute) REL video is an excerpt from the "Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest webinar, which provided early childhood (PreK – grade 3) educators with effective strategies to help students develop reading skills efficiently during and after the COVID-19 pandemic."

Dr. Nell Duke (Literacy, Language, and Culture Combined Program in Education and Psychology, University of Michigan) details three suggestions, with abbreviated descriptions included here.

  • Suggestion 1: Adopt an asset orientation
    • Not "slide", "loss", or "behind" language...instead use "accelerating" and "intensifying"
    • Untrue to say "learned nothing" (many experiences gained)
    • Exemplary teachers are positive, foster success, and teach for equity.
  • Suggestion 2: Seek efficiencies (and reduce inefficiencies)
    • Exemplary teachers use time well (not "wasting time").
    • Think about examples of possible time wasters (cited by the researcher: worksheets, word searches, picture walks, etc.)
    • "Feed 2 (or more) birds with one hand" (think of opportunities for simultaneous skill-building; literacy in the context of knowledge building; integrated reading and writing)
    • Spend least amount of time needed (intensity and brisk pace of instruction, not "more mins"'s quality over quantity)
    • Privilege practices with a strong research base
  • Suggestion 3: Observe often (and respond)
    • Assess if needed: Exemplary teachers use observation and assessment to inform their instruction.
    • Act on what you learn: Exemplary teachers are responsive (knowing students well) and spend less time in whole-group, varying instructional and organizational practices.
From top to bottom: The word Data typed over a pile of colorful legos, the word Sorted over color-coded and divided loose piles of legos, the word Arrayed over stacked color-coded legos of various heights, the words Presented Visually over connected and organized stacks of color-coded legos, the words Explained with a Story over various colored legos that are organized as a house and its exterior.
Header: The difference between change done "to" people and change done "by" people. Quotation bubble says "When change is done to people they experience it as violence. When change is done by people they experience it as liberation." Source: Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Collaborative Problem Solving | eLearning Course

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Contact: Kim Z. Mannion
  • TSD Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Coordinator