The MTSS process begins with two things - assessment and instruction. On the assessment side, all students in general education are screened. On the instruction side, all students receive high quality, on grade-level instruction. Let’s look at how screening can help make sure we are on the correct path with both. First, let’s talk about screening. What information is a screener going to provide? The first thing it should identify is the overall student performance level.
This level is critical in determining the student’s tier for intervention. Are they ready to learn at their grade level or are they performing below grade level? One grade level below? Two or more grade levels below? These struggling students need intervention.
The screener helps here too! Within the performance level, skills are identified where students have gaps in their learning. Those skills are put into an intervention to accelerate the student’s rate of learning. Intervention at the student’s performance level is the key to filling in those gaps and creating growth.
This next part is VERY important. The intervention needs to be MONITORED.
That performance level we JUST talked about is where a student should be progress monitored. Monitoring the intervention at the level the student is performing, allows you to see if the student is responding to the intervention and ultimately determines tier movement during intervention.
But what about the class as a whole? Screener data is a snapshot of where every student is ready to learn. Teachers use this data to group students. The data gives the teacher a “heads up” before entering certain content areas where students will struggle. This allows you to be proactive in analyzing curriculum and adjusting based on student needs.
The most critical use of the screener is to identify students for tiers within MTSS. Many district MTSS plans include several data points to make a thoughtful determination for each student. That data is used to determine tiers for all students. This pyramid is a great visual. It embodies the concept that instruction and assessment is intensified for the struggling learner. Each tier builds on the next to create a plan that includes instruction and assessment to accelerate student progress. This allows educators to respond quickly to student needs.
Most of the students in your class are supported by just Tier 1. Typically, 80% of students fall into Tier 1, 15% Tier 2, and 5% Tier 3. Students receiving Tier 2 supports are performing one grade level below. Students receiving Tier 3 supports are two or more levels below their assigned grade level.
But what if your pyramid is upside down? Meaning, you have more students who would fall into tier 3 than into tier 1. It’s time to step back and look at your tier 1 instruction.
It is quite an undertaking to analyze tier one instruction but data can help! Look at your screener data for trends. Identifying the weakest areas and shifting instructional focus, can shore up your tier 1 instruction over time. For example, when a district sees overall weakness in Algebra in 7th grade - work with 5th and 6th grade teachers to devise an instructional plan to strengthen that area.
In the meantime, use data to identify your lowest 25 %. Focusing on this group of students is the perfect starting place.
Let’s recap - What exactly does screening help you do? To sum it all up, screening provides data to get your MTSS process off to a solid start.
Screening helps you: Identify Student Performance levels, assign students to tier support and identify levels for progress monitoring. Use data to group students, identify weaknesses to prepare for classroom instruction and - for the big picture- analyze Tier 1 instruction
So now that we have screened all of our students and identified students to receive tier support- what now? Join me for Part 3 as we look at assigning progress monitoring to track a student's response to their intervention. See you then.