Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)

2016-17 Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Math Cohort Series

by Jared Campbell

In 2015-16 the PaTTAN MTSS and Mathematics Initiatives collaborated to deliver the first MTSS Statewide Math Cohort Series in an effort to assist a cadre of schools interested in further developing their multi-tiered system of supports to include a focus on mathematics. We are ready to begin this endeavor again with a new cohort of teams in the 2016-17 school year!

As I reflect on last year, I keep making connections to the NFL. Maybe it is just because training camps are starting across the country or maybe it’s simply because football lends itself to many of life’s metaphors. Either way, I keep coming back to this central idea: A team can have one or two superstars and still lose a lot of games. The team that wins the championship is solid across all aspects of the game.

Education is very much a team sport. It takes an entire school system to educate children, especially if part of the process includes accelerating those students who are falling behind their peers. While there might be a superstar teacher who could close the gap quickly, there is no way to make sure all struggling students get access to this one teacher. Even if that could happen for one year, without that teacher’s continued support, it is likely that those students will eventually struggle again.

So how do we equip the entire system and not soley rely on the superstars? I believe the answer exists within the inherent design of a multi-tiered system of supports. An MTSS structure will not be the answer all by itself. However, in designing and implementing an MTSS, a school must address building the internal capacity of each educator in terms of will and skill.

The National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) has developed resources that help people understand and utilize implementation science. (You can access their materials here: NIRN identifies several implementation drivers that “are key components of capacity and infrastructure that influence a program’s success.” Two of these drivers are Training and Coaching.

As we consider building the capacity of our schools’ educators, we must look at structures that support the training needs of practitioners (the implementers) and layer on job-embedded coaching that can support continued change. Horizontal and vertical teaming structures are excellent ways to organize teams to help ensure that common practices are being implemented both within and across grades.

The MTSS framework helps us to identify struggling students, align and provide efficacious supports and services, and measure the impact of our individual and collective efforts. We must build collective skill and will through the adoption of the implementation science – “THE HOW”.

When we apply implementation science to MTSS, we have a greater likelihood of improving educational systems that support all students. PaTTAN is excited to begin this process with our 2016-17 MTSS Math Cohort teams. We also provide general sessions open to all interested educators – access the general sessions using this link:

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