A number of years ago, I was at a MTSS conference. The content was fantastic, relevant, compelling, and engaging.
As I looked around the room, I saw that I was sitting next to someone who had a frustrated look on her face. “How’s the conference so far?,” I asked. “Oh. It’s great. This is all fantastic in theory. But, I’m in a district that does not do MTSS, and I get no support.”
Over the next 30 minutes or so, I took a piece of paper, and quickly outlined how she could get started doing MTSS in her classroom – for free – even though she had zero support.
Here’s what I wrote.
Your district very likely does some kind of Universal Screening assessments at least three times per year. This could be a MAP assessment, iReady, STAR, etc. (No endorsement implied).
This data is used to identify what students may need additional support in a content area that is tested. The data is typically presented in one of two ways. It’s presented as a score, or as a percentile. These percentiles are based on national norm data – so it may or may not be indicitative of the levels of performance of your students.
We’ve created a “data wall” spreadsheet that takes your screening data (sorry – you have to enter it) – and determines the local percentile ranking of your students in your classroom. This will help differentiate what students need intervention in either reading or math.
Open the spreadsheet, make a copy, fill in your data, and voila. You’ve got a data wall that will help identify what students may need additional help.
Diagnostic / Placement
Once you’ve figured out what students need that additional support, it’s time to design the instruction they need.
Often, the universal screening process will identify that a student needs support – in general – but not in what specific area. That’s where we need to do another layer of diagnostics.
For literacy, you are likely familiar with Scarborough’s Reading Rope.
The rope helps us break down how reading is acquired. The nice thing about this approach is that the strands woven into skilled reading are probably familiar.
Tools like DIBELS enable teachers to monitor the growth of students through the strands (No endorsement, but DIBELS is free). These curriculum based measure assessments are generally a minute long, and will tell you if a student needs help in that particular area.
Intervention / Instruction
OK. Let’s say that you have a group of students who are struggling with Phonemic Awareness. You now have enough information to find a program or intervention that addresses PA, and start using it.
There are numerous examples of free intervention resources around the internet. Here’s one:
Of course, you’ll need to determine if the programs listed will work for your students. That list is not exhaustive, but a quick Google search will bring up countless options.
Now that you’ve identified a skill and started intervening on it, it’s time to measure the progress the student has been making. Every two weeks or so, give the student another CBM (ex: DIBELS), and see if their score is going up. If it is – keep on going.
If, after 3-6 data points, a student is not making progress, or as much progress as they should, it’s time to think about changing intervention programs.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Not to oversimplify, but that’s really it. This recipe will get you started on the path to MTSS in your classroom.
Now, systems like ion Analytics will make the data gathering, analysis and tracking process much, much easier. But, if you (or your school) is just getting started, this walkthrough should point you in the right direction.
Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to discuss this more! We’d love to have a conversation with you!