Beginning the Work of MTSS  

January 27, 2016

The mission of ESU 10 MTSS is to support the MTSS process in all ESU 10 districts and schools (preschool through high school) in order to improve the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral development of every student. MTSS, or Multi-Tiered System of Supports, relies on evidence-based practices and data-based problem solving to provide proactive instruction and support for students. The goal is to prevent problems or to identify and respond to students’ needs in a timely manner. The MTSS process is flexible and designed by each school to meet the needs of that school and their individual students. The MTSS Facilitator and members of our ESU 10 MTSS Team are available for technical assistance to schools making this effort. Core beliefs guide our efforts. 

During this first semester, priorities have been on strategic planning for supports to schools and on providing requested supports. One of the core beliefs that guides this effort is “...challenges are ever-present and best addressed within a system of coordinated supports.” As part of strategic planning for coordinated supports, our vision, mission, goals and action steps have been outlined. Team members have also taken time to increase their own knowledge and skills in regards to MTSS by looking to the Nebraska MTSS Implementation Support Team model and by accessing information from the Kansas MTSS model. On a recent visit to Kansas school districts, we found that deep implementation of MTSS takes time as well as continuous support. In those school districts, a culture of learning was present that was unique to each district. For instance, in Abilene, the culture might best be described as “every teacher, a teacher of reading.” From preschool teacher to high school biology teacher, all have training and established beliefs in the science of reading instruction. On the other hand, at Morris County USD 417 in Council Grove, the culture might be tagged, “reliance on data and communication.” In this district, teachers, administrators and para professionals are involved in discussions about student progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Each district has developed strong teacher leaders who sustain the efforts and work of MTSS.

At home, several ESU 10 districts have reached out, affirming our belief that “...every individual, classroom, school, and district can benefit from supports.” These districts view MTSS as an important way of doing business. Here are examples of our on-going work:

•  Elm Creek Public Schools -- leadership training for initial implementation of MTSS
•  Lexington Public Schools and the NeMTSS Implementation Team -- collaboration to restructure elementary buildings and use of explicit instruction in reading
•  Riverside Public Schools -- guidance in revising their model of MTSS to be consistent at each of their sites at Spalding and Cedar Rapids
•  Ravenna Public Schools -- development of a model of MTSS for social, emotional, and behavioral supports
•  Broken Bow Junior High School -- expansion of the MTSS model from the Elementary Schools into Junior High
•  Other districts -- more short term assistance, for instance, developing parent materials, training for reading fluency instructional practices, ideas for math intervention, etc.

Finally, because we believe “...supports must be easily accessible,” the ESU 10 MTSS team is intentionally using online collaboration tools (such as Google documents, sheets, and forms as well as Lifesize Cloud) to accomplish our mission. After developing relationships with district personnel, we rely on these tools to bridge gaps of distance and time. When we share a vision of meeting the needs of each school and supporting student development, time is of the essence and distance can be managed.

-by Patrice Feller, MTSS Facilitator/Coach