St. Louis County in Missouri has a unique approach to special education: the Special School District (SSD). SSD is its own district, regulated through the state and included in the state constitution. It serves 22 school districts in St. Louis County and provides all the special education services for students. One of the districts SSD serves is Mehlville School District, a district in south St. Louis County that serves over 10,000 students in 18 schools.When Mehlville began district-wide work on implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), district leaders realized they needed a tool to support their new processes. This tool needed to have the capabilities to integrate data on academics, well-being, and social-emotional learning (SEL), and track intervention progress across Tiers 1, 2, and 3. It was critical that their MTSS served all students in Mehlville schools, inclusive of those receiving special education services through SSD.
Mehlville partnered with Panorama in 2018 to administer social-emotional learning surveys, and soon expanded with Panorama Student Success to support MTSS implementation. In 2021, leaders at Mehlville and Special School District piloted the platform in a small selection of elementary and middle schools with concerns around achievement disproportionality for students receiving special education services. This year, they’re using Student Success to support every student in Mehlville.
Adam Smith, Executive Director of Student Services at Mehlville, and Kimberly Lawson, Director of Special Education in Mehlville through SSD, have worked in close partnership to support all Mehlville students. We sat down with them to learn more about how they're using Student Success to implement MTSS and support data-driven decision-making strategies to make sure every student gets what they need to succeed.
How has your partnership with Panorama supported your implementation of MTSS?
Kimberly Lawson, Director of Special Education: We first attempted to launch Response to Intervention (RtI) about 12 years ago and were unsuccessful. At that time, we didn't have the resources and the technological capabilities that we have now. We didn’t have Panorama.
When we began the process of rolling out MTSS a few years ago, we realized that there was a need in our district for data management. We had already partnered with Panorama for our SEL surveys, and when we found out about the Student Success platform, we thought it would really support our MTSS work.
MTSS work needs to start at the central office in order to be implemented district-wide, and building-level teams need extra support during the first few years. Our district was fortunate to have some resources at our disposal through the Special School District to provide coaching to each of our principals and each of our building-level teams. Ensuring our buildings were supported was one of the best decisions that we made as a team. Any way that districts can figure out how to coach and how to support, they should.
"Student Success is a tool that our teachers and interventionists use as a one-stop shop for data on academics, attendance, behavior, and SEL, as well as visibility into our district benchmarks and state assessments. It’s been a great tool for our MTSS implementation."
— Adam Smith, Executive Director of Student Services,
Mehlville School District (MO)
Adam Smith, Executive Director of Student Services: Student Success is a tool that our teachers and interventionists use as a one-stop shop for data on academics, attendance, behavior, and SEL, as well as visibility into our district benchmarks and state assessments. It’s been a great tool for our MTSS implementation.
We want to make sure that we're doing everything possible in our Tier 1 supports so that when we get to a point where a student may need a referral for special education services, we have the data available to help us make the decision to get that student the support they need.
We don't want MTSS to just be used as a system for referral for special education services, and we’re working to ensure that we're not over- or under-identifying students that might need that extra support. We want to use our resources to serve all students in a better way, and Panorama is helping us facilitate that work.
How have Mehlville and the Special School District used Student Success to support students?
KL: With Student Success, we now have a central location where we can get a portrait of a student. We can disaggregate the data and look at different student populations, such as students receiving special education services. From there, we can take a deeper dive into particular groups. Our building-level special education data teams use this feature to identify students who are demonstrating they may need extra support. We can get a quick glance, either at the building level or at the classroom level, that allows us to see where we might need to investigate further into what is happening with a student in terms of attendance, academics, behavior, or SEL. Student Success gives us a clear picture of which students might need high-level interventions, and alerts us to areas we might have missed that need closer attention.
The color coding in the platform makes this quick and easy. We can see student names and areas across the board that are either green, yellow, or red. When we see yellow or red, it’s an automatic visual flag that tells us we need to be doing something. Looking at this data gives us a starting point and allows us to make clearer decisions around problem-solving.
This also helps us determine where we need to spend our time and energy. As educators, we know we don't always have a whole lot of time. Student Success allows us to decide where we want to spend our time in order to ensure that all of our students are achieving.
The Panorama Student Success platform shows a holistic view of each student across Academics, Attendance, Behavior, and SEL. Color-coding allows for instant visibility into areas of growth and strengths. (Please note that demo data is pictured.)
AS: Everybody's overwhelmed, and everybody's struggling with challenges of the pandemic. Last month in our elementary principal meeting, we did a little pre-work on MTSS by doing a drive-through with Panorama. In just four clicks, I could show principals at a building the reading diagnostics for an entire group of students.
We used to spend our meeting times gathering data through spreadsheets and paper folders. Then we would need to schedule another meeting to actually talk about the data. Now, we spend our time problem-solving around data and making decisions to plan interventions to support students. The efficiency piece is really powerful.
"We used to spend our meeting times gathering data through spreadsheets and paper folders. Then we would need to schedule another meeting to actually talk about the data. Now, we spend our time problem-solving around data and making decisions to plan interventions to support students. The efficiency piece is really powerful."
— Adam Smith, Executive Director of Student Services,
Mehlville School District (MO)
How has your partnership with Panorama impacted students and teachers?
KL: At the building level, we’ve had principals use the teacher survey data to identify areas where teachers were asking for more support. In one building, teachers reported that they felt they did not have enough tools or capacity to work with students on social-emotional learning skills. In response to that feedback, the principal provided training and resources to build teacher capacity for SEL.
After receiving this support, the teachers self-reported that their confidence had really increased in that area. They now felt like they had more tools and strategies for working with students. When you have teachers who have more confidence and are implementing research-based strategies in the classroom, students are benefiting. In that building, we’re seeing higher student engagement and an overall increase in achievement. When we see the effects of how principals have used the data to support their teachers, the ultimate result is a positive impact on students.
Ready to learn more about how Panorama can support MTSS implementation in your district? Schedule a meeting with us!