"We're transitioning to a MTSS model. What are the key things to think about when getting started?"
This is one of the most common questions we hear from schools and districts who are just beginning their journeys with a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS)—or even those who are a few years in and just looking to improve their processes.
We know it can be daunting to roll out MTSS or RTI, so in today's Q&A episode we're breaking it down into the three pieces.
Watch the first episode of Panorama Q&A below or on YouTube to hear tips for getting started with MTSS.
Set a vision for MTSS and document it
First—and this may sound obvious—it’s important to set a vision and document it. Have a public written plan that shares your core beliefs, goals, and definitions around MTSS. Maybe you’re focusing on MTSS as a pathway to equity, as a framework for supporting the whole child, as a way to provide proactive, personalized support to every student—or all of the above.
A key goal of this plan should be to ensure that staff are using shared language around MTSS. When I was a principal, I supported my staff with student-first language to describe the observable needs and strengths of students.
For example, rather than staff using deficit-based phrases like "lazy student," saying “this student struggles with motivation when reading above grade level text.” Or, rather than “Carla needs to work on her fluency,” saying, “Carla is reading 72 words per minute, consistently missing two syllable words, and the sight word ‘was’.”
Build human systems
We know that having shared language and a clear vision isn’t enough. Your plan can be flawless, but you need to have the people to execute on it. MTSS is a team sport; everyone in the building has a role in making it work. As leaders, we need to build human systems to weave the MTSS process into our school culture.
This means creating central office positions that align with your strategic vision for MTSS, creating shared protocols, building time for MTSS into master schedules, and offering professional development.
Invest in data systems
At the heart of MTSS are strong data systems. Your support staff needs real-time access to student data to make decisions about student supports, and you’ve got to have data to understand if interventions are working.
Think about ways to streamline intervention management. We recommend bringing your progress monitoring data across academics, behavior, attendance, and social-emotional learning (SEL) into one spot instead of having it in different systems, spreadsheets, and reports. Panorama can help you with that; Student Success brings all your data together with intervention tracking dashboards and easy-to-use tools for managing interventions.