Delivering MTSS interventions to students is an important pathway to equity and excellence in schools. But how do you build—and systematize—tiered intervention services across an entire district?
To do this well, there's a lot to learn from Ogden School District. The district, which serves 12,300 students in Ogden, Utah, has a strong vision for student support that focuses on building strong relationships with students. This vision motivates their approach to MTSS and informs everything they do—from Tier 2 interventions, to how they collect and use data.
On a recent webinar, administrators from Ogden shared their values, best practices, and norms for delivering tiered student supports and interventions.
Here's a round-up of everything you need to know from the webinar.
1. Don't reinvent the wheel for every school and every student.
Instead, strive to deliver consistent MTSS services across the entire district. Although the goal of MTSS is to provide individualized support to every student, it's not efficient or repeatable to write a new behavior plan every time a student acts out or shows signs of struggle. Develop district-level systems and core MTSS values to ensure that students are getting the best support possible at every school.
In Ogden, for example, district leaders have worked hard to maintain consistency in MTSS services across school sites. These shared elements include data collection systems, intervention menus, support teams, and professional development.
"We can guarantee that a student will get the same service at every school in our district. This means that one student can move to another elementary school and receive the same type of service on the day that they start."
– Aspen Henderson, MTSS and PBIS Coordinator, Ogden School District
2. A strong Tier 1 is the best prevention for needing Tier 2 or 3 interventions.
Above all else, focus on building a strong base of Tier 1 supports to create a proactive and preventative MTSS culture. In Ogden, school sites evaluate Tier 1 data every month to identify one area for improvement. For instance, at New Bridge Elementary School, this month they're working on students' friendship skills because of a rise in playground incidents.
"Our three major Tier 1 systems relate to behavior, attendance, and academics. Interwoven through all three are our new efforts in understanding how SEL impacts those three areas for our students," said Janice Bukey, principal of New Bridge Elementary.
Here are a few of Ogden's school-based Tier 1 strategies:
- Attendance challenges to celebrate good attendance with a traveling trophy and ice cream parties.
- Daily behavior spotlights over the PA and on a bulletin board to encourage positive behavior.
- Second Step curriculum to develop students' social-emotional learning skills including emotion regulation, social awareness, and self-efficacy.
3. At the Tier 2 level, create student support teams to mobilize around at-risk students.
The goal of these cross-functional teams should be to review relevant data, identify students in need of Tier 2 supports, and come up with interventions for each child. Ogden has Child Assistance Teams (ChATs) made up of principals, assistant principals, counselors, and behavior interventionists. The ChaT teams meet weekly with the following responsibilities:
- Look at students' needs across academics, behavior, attendance, and social-emotional learning.
- Prepare for meetings by reviewing the data to identify at-risk students ahead of time.
- "ChAT" two to three students per week and review the progress of three to four students.
- Exit the meeting with intervention plans for each student.
- Assist teachers in implementing interventions within 48 hours, with each intervention running for three weeks.
4. Train staff on a narrow set of MTSS interventions to ensure fidelity of implementation.
Keep your intervention menu simple; administrators at Ogden recommend going deep on a set of pre-determined Tier 2 interventions. Their district-wide Tier 2 menu includes four interventions that staff are heavily trained to implement:
- 2x10 Relationship Building: Connect with a student for two minutes per day, 10 days in a row. These conversations should focus on relationship building, and must be about anything but school.
- Preventative Problem-Solving Plan (3Ps): Work with the student to identify the problem and talk through a solution.
- Goal-Setting: Check in with the student around a goal; more teacher-directed than the 3Ps, but still based on what the student has identified as the problem. ("Today we're working on staying in our seat. Do you think you could sit in your seat for 80 percent of the time?)
- Check In, Check Out (CICO): This is the most time-intensive intervention; review goals with the student every morning and collect data in 30-minute increments.
5. Group interventions can be just as effective as individual supports.
While individualized supports are critical in a MTSS, group-based interventions can also lead to positive student outcomes. For example, the "Achievement Club" at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden is a group intervention for at-risk eighth and ninth graders who need extra support on the path to graduation.
Nichole Goodliffe, assistant principal at Mound Fort Junior High, shares how she identifies students for the Achievement Club:
"Prior to Panorama, it took me two to three days to pull the data across attendance, behavior, and grades with spreadsheets. Panorama saves me a lot of time. I can immediately pull up students who need extra support going into eighth grade with the smart groups feature."
– Nichole Goodliffe, Assistant Principal, Mound Fort Junior High
She also described the impact of Achievement Club for a specific student: After being placed in the club, the student went from 11 Fs, 63 behavior incidents, and 89 percent daily attendance to only five Fs, two behavior write-ups, and 95 percent attendance.
6. Manage and progress monitor interventions in one central data system.
Administrators, staff, and educators need shared access to progress monitoring data to quickly identify struggling students and understand if interventions are working. For Ogden School District, Panorama is that one-stop shop. Educators can review and log student intervention data across academics, behavior, attendance, and social-emotional learning in one place.