At i-LEADR, Inc., our online data and documentation platform, RtI: Stored! streamlines the process of collecting, analyzing, and storing student data as part of an MTSS & RtI framework. However, the effectiveness of our platform is only as effective as its use, so we recommend the following tips for using it strategically and successfully:
- Check the adequacy of the data—While using documentation software, educators should ask whether appropriate screening measures were used to determine a student’s level of success with reading and mathematics. They should also determine if the screening measure aligns with the learning expectations for that year, and if any scoring was verified.
- Plan adjustments—If large numbers of students are performing in the risk range, educators should analyze the adequacy of the core instruction. After certain adjustments have been made, the screening should be repeated to identify the effect of the adjustments.
- Manage individual interventions—Before using individual data to make decisions about a personalized intervention, educators should investigate the effectiveness of the intervention for the group. Educators should also ask whether the intervention was implemented to fidelity, and if the intervention was adjusted accordingly to match student progress.
- Use data to allocate instructional resources—If implementation steps are well-defined for classrooms and the school as a whole, and the platform allows educators to track the effects of interventions, any data can be used as a basis for providing additional resources in the classroom, small groups, or to individual students.
The screening process is a significant foundational element of any MTSS framework, and more specifically, universal screening is the process of consistently analyzing every student’s performance at certain points during the academic year. Universal screening helps identify students who are doing well with the core instruction and those who may require supplemental intervention and support.
Most MTSS experts recommend three screening periods during the school year, in the fall, winter, and spring. These screening periods are recommended because many students can experience performance success or failure at a changing rate throughout the course of the year. For example, a student who needs additional support at the start of the year may no longer need additional resources come winter. Comparatively, a student who is on track at the beginning of the year may fall behind towards the end.
Any screening process should utilize tools that provide evidence-based information surrounding mathematics, reading, and behavior. The strategies used should provide data that predicts future outcomes, so teachers can maximize their resources and instructional time.
As part of the MTSS screening process, educators should also use normed benchmarks for the screening results by which they can determine students’ risk. These normed references can help educators quickly and easily determine if a student is staying on track or is at risk.
The MTSS framework is a series of evidence-based practices implemented across a system of learning to meet the varying needs of all students. Broader than a problem-solving process alone, it establishes a foundation of support focused on professional development, leadership, and empowering teachers to effectively assess and instruct. The MTSS process also consists of four essential problem-solving steps, which include:
1. Defining the problem—The first step of MTSS involves determining the areas in which core instruction needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of at least 80% of the population. After core is analyzed and strengthened, PLCs (professional learning communities) should identify which students have gaps beyond what is being addressed in core instruction. PLCs involved should determine what gaps exist and the services in which they have resources to provide. It’s important early on to address any issues involving poor attendance, behavior, or other health barriers.
2. Analyzing the data—MTSS is driven by data, so after defining the problem, data should be reviewed to solidify the cause. This cause could be a gap in certain domains of learning or a specific skill deficit. All relevant information and data should be gathered to determine any barriers that could inhibit progress towards the goal.
3. Implementing an intervention plan—After identifying the issue and analyzing all relevant data, an intervention plan appropriate for the student’s unique needs should be designed and implemented. These interventions should be evidence-based and implemented to fidelity.
4. Evaluating the intervention—It is critical that educators spend time with the intervention effectiveness evaluation. Educators should consider whether the intervention was successful and if the student responded effectively to the strategic or intensive instruction. If data showcases adequate progress of the group (tier 2) or individual (tier 3), the intervention can continue, but if the data does not indicate success, the PLC should carefully problem solve why desired results were not achieved.
This is a cyclical process that continues over a period of time until educators have created a system of support that positively impacts the students’ level of needs.