Aligning your resources to students’ needs
Are your school’s resources aligned to the students’ needs? If you haven’t had a school-wide discussion about it, your resources and efforts may be falling short.
Still, schools and districts can answer the question by unleashing the true potential of Multi-Tiered System of Supports, known as MTSS.
That’s because MTSS – beyond being an effective tool for meeting the individual needs of learners – can be expanded to help guide schools and districts on how to align resources to maximize the education experience.
That was a takeaway for those attending the Iowa Department of Education’s second annual School Improvement Symposium in Des Moines.
“We are working to make MTSS a more collaborative question-driven process rather than a prescriptive step-by-step process,” said Brad Niebling, a Department consultant and speaker at the symposium.
MTSS is still aimed at students, but it isn’t just about interventions.
“It is about what we do with all students and how we use our data to decide how we spend our time and resources to meet their needs,” Niebling said. “It is about getting everyone to talk about what they are doing, see what they need, to look for common problems and identify opportunities.”
MTSS empowers the staff to collaborate to help students. Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, in which staff meet to learn from one another, are a good example of how MTSS can be implemented within the school building.
“Use your PLCs to help everyone along with MTSS,” Niebling said.
The ideal scenario is that the PLC looks at student achievement data, and then examines how the budget enhances – or falls short – of bolstering student achievement. The examination isn’t just staff, but needs to include the principal and superintendent.
“We have learned lessons over the years on how to do MTSS better,” Niebling said. “We have some really good examples of schools doing several parts, such as the Roland-Story school district or Centerville elementary school.”
The Department has developed a series of questions designed to provide a structure for schools to engage in the system-wide MTSS called the Collaborative Inquiry Questions.