Our students have endured many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to learning loss, upheaval, and ongoing trauma. As we approach the 2021-2022 school year, many schools have begun to craft and implement comprehensive recovery plans that support students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being.
The MTSS framework, designed as a process built for recovery, uses data to match academic, social-emotional, and behavioral assessment and support every student’s needs. It provides the guideposts to ensure your school allocates instructional and intervention resources where they are most needed. To ensure we serve every child, the DC Special Education Cooperative (Co-op) urges educators and stakeholders to incorporate a MTSS system.
The Co-op has long believed that robust MTSS practices support general education students and special education students. Why? Because MTSS ensures that ALL students get what they need, special education students are indeed part of that ALL.
Moreover, using an MTSS system helps ensure that students in need of special education services are appropriately identified while preventing unnecessary referrals of students who can be helped by targeted intervention.
Nationwide data also backs up this belief. In a recent report, “Investing in Lasting Change: How States and Districts can Use Recovery Funds to Support Students with Disabilities,” the National Center for Learning Disabilities recommended that schools adopt a “universal multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS)” as a tool for “creating lasting change that is accessible, inclusive, and equitable for all students.”
Acting on this belief, last year, the Co-op piloted a program to support MTSS implementation at five member schools – and we discovered that our MTSS support works! One of our member schools – after receiving targeted coaching – identified 12 previously unidentified students who required special education services.
This year, the Co-op is expanding our MTSS implementation services to help our member schools create that change. We meet schools where they are and, using an equitable lens, work tirelessly to ensure that significant systemic change is happening so that every student receives precisely the support they deserve.
A structured MTSS system aligns with OSSE’s requirements that schools’ Continuous Learning Plans address whole-child well-being, use assessment data to monitor student progress, adjust instruction, and employ accelerated learning principles. More than this, though, MTSS is quite simply the right thing to do for students.
If there is any time to focus on it, now is the time, and fortunately, we have the tools. Join us in giving students the school experience they deserve!
Check out this video of DC Prep PCS Michelle Hess speaking about our MTSS resources’ impact on her, her team, and her school.