Improving Student Outcomes When Your State Department of Education Has Adopted the Failed National MTSS and PBIS Frameworks (Part I of II)

October 7, 2017

 

Improving Student Outcomes When Your State Department of Education Has Adopted the Failed National MTSS and PBIS Frameworks (Part I of II)

 

Effective and Defensible Multi-Tiered and Positive Behavioral Support Approaches that State Departments of Education Will Approve and Fund

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

Introduction

 

   Over the past six weeks, as I consult around the country and do telephone conference calls with high-powered district and school leaders, the development of sound and effective multi-tiered services—to help academically struggling and behaviorally challenging students—keeps coming up.

 

   The biggest reasons for this are:

 

   * Schools are facing even more at-risk, unprepared, underachieving, unresponsive, and unsuccessful students than ever before.

 

   * Schools have limited intervention resources and resource people. . . but the resources they have often do not have the deep and intensive intervention expertise that they need, or they are not strategically deployed so that they can provide the intensity of services needed by their students.

 

   * Schools are using (or are “required” by their State Departments of Education to use) obsolete and originally scientifically-unsound frameworks in the areas of MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports), PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports), and RtI (Response to Intervention).

_ _ _ _ _

 

   Right now, I am in California for two weeks . . . working with two school districts with high numbers of students from poverty . . . who are also ravaged by any number of trauma-related life crises and events. 

 

   These districts have some incredibly talented related services professionals—counselors (some of whom are actually clinical social workers or marriage and family therapists), school psychologists, applied behavior therapists, special educators). 

 

   But even these professionals (a) have intervention gaps, that (b) are compounded by unsound MTSS/RtI implementation processes (advocated by their state through professional developers at their County School District), that (c) are based on the U.S. Department of Education’s (largely through the Office of Special Education Programs—OSEP) MTSS, PBIS, and RtI frameworks.  Critically, many independent studies—INCLUDING those commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education—have shown that the MTSS, PBIS, and RtI frameworks separately and collectively result in trivial, questionable, unsustainable,—if not negative outcomes for students.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

How to Educate Your State Department of Education . . . When it has Embraced (or Mandated) Unsound MTSS, PBIS, or RtI Approaches

 

   But beyond my recent consulting work, I also help school districts write grants so that they can secure state, federal, and foundation money.

 

   Last month, I collaborated with a district applying for state department of education school improvement funds to beef up their multi-tiered system of supports. 

 

   The Problem:  The state (like many states) had actually codified the U.S. Department of Education’s faulty MTSS and PBIS frameworks into their state education law/statutes . . . and the grant RFP appeared to require unsound practices that anyone with psychometric, implementation science, and systems scale-up knowledge and experience would know would not work, and would either delay services to or educationally harm students.

 

   In writing the RFP, we addressed this situation by:

 

   * Presenting the research-to-practice data and results that invalidated the unsound practices in the state’s framework;

 

   * Detailing the research-to-practice data and results that validated our proposed effective practices; and

 

   * Framing our proposal as one with “valued-added” procedures, services, supports, strategies, and interventions that would (a) build on the defensible ones in the state’s statute; (b) improve upon or substitute for the indefensible ones; (c) help more effectively and efficiently meet the grant’s “ultimate” student-focused outcomes; and that might (d) require some levels of waivers (if needed).

_ _ _ _ _

 

   Below (with some minor editing), I will begin to share the sections of our actual proposal that are most-relevant to this two-part Blog discussion.

 

   In this first—Part I, I will share the proposal’s description of the district and state’s current MTSS system.  This is followed by a section that we titled, Why the RFP as Written will not Succeed.  Finally, the proposal discussed Seven Flaws that Need Attention in a Multi-Tiered Services Re-Design.

 

   In Part II of this Blog discussion (posted in about two weeks), I will share the proposal’s section addressing Ten Resulting Practices that Need Inclusion in a Multi-Tiered Services Re-Design, and make some concluding comments.

 

   So. . . let’s begin.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

From the Grant Proposal:  Describing the District and State’s Current MTSS System

 

   The Anytown (obviously, a pseudonym) Public School District's instructional staff is responsible for successfully implementing and sustaining a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to accelerate and maximize students’ academic and social-emotional outcomes through the application of collaborative data-based problem solving utilized by effective leadership at all levels of the educational system.

 

   The MTSS process is coordinated by the District’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction which implements the relevant MTSS policies and procedures relative to State Board Policy XXXX.  This Office also provides MTSS professional development for school-based teams, administrators, staff, and parents.

 

   In addition, the Office of Curriculum and Instruction, as well as the Office of Special Education, offer guidance on appropriate intervention data collection, data-based decision making, evaluation, and progress monitoring for students in need of supplementary intensive academic and behavioral supports in order to ensure all students graduate high school college and career ready.

 

   The State’s MTSS process involves a Three Tier Instructional Model designed to meet the needs of every student.  The tiers of instruction involve the following:

 

   Tier 1: Quality classroom instruction based on State Curriculum Frameworks.  
   Tier 2: Focused supplemental instruction.
   Tier 3: Intensive interventions specifically designed to meet the individual needs of students.

 

   If strategies at Tiers 1 and 2 are unsuccessful, students must be referred to the Teacher Support Team (TST). The TST is the problem-solving unit responsible for interventions developed at Tier 3.  Each school within the Anytown Public School District has a Teacher Support Team in accordance with the process developed by the Department of Education.

 

Explicit and Implicit Goals of the RFP

 

   While the explicit goals or deliverables of the RFP involve one year of “awareness-building” MTSS professional development and follow-up, the implicit goals of the RFP involve the academic and social, emotional, and behavioral success of all of the students in the targeted schools.  These schools are currently “Focus” schools—in need of improvement—based on the State’s Accountability Model.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

From the Grant Proposal:  Why the RFP as Written will not Succeed

 

   While our organization clearly has the capacity, and is happy to provide the professional development requested in the RFP (thereby meeting its explicit goals), it firmly believes that this will not help the District to accomplish its implicit goal:  the academic and social, emotional, and behavioral success of all of the students in the target schools. 

 

   And while we will address the major thrust of the RFP later in this Narrative, we believe that the District first needs to “add value” to the MTSS process currently recommended by the State. 

 

   Below is a discussion of ways to “upgrade” the current MTSS approaches so that the Professional Development in the RFP has the greatest chance for success.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

The Elementary and Secondary Education/Every Student Succeeds Act and Multi-Tiered Services

 

   The Elementary and Secondary Education/Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA/ESSA) was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.  Most notably, the Law transfers much of the responsibility for developing, implementing, and evaluating effective school and schooling processes to state departments of education and school districts across the country.  It also includes a number of specific provisions to help to ensure success for all students and schools.

 

   Relative to at-risk, disengaged, unmotivated, unresponsive, underperforming, or consistently unsuccessful students, ESEA/ESSA defines and requires districts and schools to establish a “multi-tiered system of supports” for specific groups of students.

 

   Significantly, the term “response-to-intervention” (or RtI) or any of its derivatives never appears in the new ESEA/ESSA

 

   [Parenthetically, this term similarly, never appears in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).]

 

   Even more significant is the fact that the term “multi-tiered system of supports”—which appears only five times in the Law, always appears in lower case letters, and NEVER appears with a capital letter acronym:  MTSS.

 

   Thus, the MTSS framework advocated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (and its many funded National Technical Assistance Centers, as well as many State Departments of Education) is NOT REQUIRED by federal law.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   ESEA/ESSA defines “multi-tiered system of supports” as:

 

“a comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to students’ needs, with regular observation to facilitate data-based instructional decision-making.”

 

   Relative to the five times the term appears in the Law, two appearances are in the definition as above.  The other three citations appear in sections where the Law talks about the need for all districts receiving ESEA funds to:

 

   * “(F) (D)evelop programs and activities that increase the ability of teachers to effectively teach children with disabilities, including children with significant cognitive disabilities, and English learners, which may include the use of multi-tier systems of support and positive behavioral intervention and supports, so that such children with disabilities and English learners can meet the challenging State academic standards.”

 

   * “(4) Provid(e) for a multi-tier system of supports for literacy services.”

 

   * Offer professional development opportunities that “(xii) are designed to give teachers of children with disabilities or children with development delays, and other teachers and instructional staff, the knowledge and skills to provide instruction and academic support services, to those children, including positive behavioral interventions and supports, multi-tier system of supports, and use of accommodations” . . .

_ _ _ _ _

 

   Meanwhile and relatedly, the term ”positive behavioral intervention and supports” (which appears twice in the quoted sections above) is NEVER defined in ESEA/ESSA.  While it appears in the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA, it is NOT defined there either

 

   Significantly, the term “positive behavioral interventions and supports” appears only THREE times in the entire ESEA/ESSA law—always in lower case letters.  That is, the term NEVER appears with the individual words capitalized, the PBIS acronym NEVER appears, and the word “framework” (as in PBIS framework) NEVER appears in the law.

 

   Thus, as with MTSS, ESEA/ESSA DOES NOT REQUIRE the PBIS framework or program advocated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, its many funded National Technical Assistance Centers, as well as many State Departments of Education.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   The “Bottom Line” in all of this is that every State Department of Education across the country that accepts federal funds:

 

   * Must develop its own multi-tier system of supports—at least for the conditions described in the Law above (clearly, they can go beyond the Law);

 

   * Is not required to adopt the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs MTSS framework, and should not be penalized financially as long as their approach meets the definition and conditions above;

 

   * Needs to revisit and revalidate its multi-tiered system of supports to ensure that the services, programs, strategies, and interventions being used meet the other facets of ESEA/ESSA—that is, to ensure that students with disabilities, with developmental delays, who are English learners, and who are struggling with literacy can meet the challenging State academic standards.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

From the Grant Proposal:  Seven Flaws that Need Attention in a Multi-Tiered Services Re-Design

 

   In order to meet the “Bottom Line” above, state departments of education and school districts nationwide must recognize that a number of federal reports have demonstrated that the federal RtI and MTSS frameworks have not been successful.  For example:

 

   Balu, R., Zhu, P., Doolittle, F., Schiller, E., Jenkins, J., & Gersten, R. (2015). Evaluation of Response to Intervention Practices for Elementary School Reading (NCEE 2016-4000). Washington, DC: National

Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

 

   CLICK HERE for Publication

 

   Thus, as state departments of education and districts rethink their multi-tiered system of supports, they need to recognize and correct the flaws that have undermined the success of previous RtI and MTSS approaches.

 

   Below are seven flaws that need attention in the re-design process.  Many of these flaws were identified through an extensive review of the currently existing state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks and systems.

_ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #1.  Missing the Interdependency between Academics and Behavior

 

   When teachers have academically or behaviorally struggling students, there are two initial critical questions:

 

   * Do you have students who are behaviorally acting out because of academic frustration?

 

   * Do you have students who are academically not learning (or not learning quickly enough) because they do not have certain behavioral skills (sitting in their seat, paying attention, working in interpersonally effective ways with others)?

 

   When they answer "Yes" to both questions (which is the norm), they are demonstrating (per usual) that academic instruction, learning, and mastery is interdependent with classroom discipline, behavior management, and student self-management.

 

   Thus, it does not make sense for a state or district multi-tiered process to focus only on academic skills. . . to the exclusion of students' social, emotional, and behavioral skills.  

 

   We have seen this time and time again—as schools have separate problem-solving teams for academic and behavioral problem students, respectfully.  When this happens, the “academic team” only assesses for “academic problems,” and the “behavioral team” only assesses for “behavioral problems.”  The flaw in this process occurs when a student, for example, is behaviorally acting up because of academic frustration.  Here, the behavioral team typically misses the underlying academic conditions that are triggering the student’s behavioral response (because they don’t assess them), and then they try to treat the behavioral problem as a “discipline problem” rather than one that requires an academic intervention component.

 

   Conversely, the academic team does not typically ask whether students’ academic struggles are occurring because they do not (a) have the social skills to get along with others (e.g., in a cooperative learning group); (b) feel emotionally secure in class (e.g., due to teasing or school safety issues); or (c) have the behavioral skills to organize themselves (e.g., to work independently).  When students have social, emotional, or behavioral skill deficits, even the best teachers, curricula, technology, and instruction may not result in the desired academic outcomes.

 

   The “Bottom Line” is that schools should have the best academic and social, emotional, and behavioral assessment, instruction, and intervention experts in and available to the school on their school-level Teacher Support Teams.  When this occurs, questions regarding the interdependency between a student’s academic and behavioral status and contributions to specific situations will most assuredly be asked.

_ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #2.  Missing the Continuum of Instruction

 

   Many state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks and systems do not provide a research-based continuum of services and supports that helps to organize and differentiate the difference between "instruction" and "intervention."  These guidebooks talk about the need for intervention, but rarely provide any specificity.

 

   Over the past decade (or more), we have presented this continuum to states, districts, and schools across the country—presenting it as the PASS (Positive Academic Supports and Services) model.

 

   As is evident in the slide below (see Figure 1), RtI or multi-tiered services start with an effective teacher providing sound, differentiated instruction, supported by good classroom management, and the data-based progress monitoring of students' academic and behavioral learning and mastery.  

 

   When students are not learning (or learning quickly enough), an assessment process must be conducted to determine why the progress is missing (see Flaw #3 below).  This assessment could be done (a) by the teacher, (b) with the support of grade-level colleagues as part of a Grade-level Teacher Support Team, or (c) with the support of the multidisciplinary Building-level Teacher Support Team.  How the teacher assesses the problem is determined largely by his/her skills, and the duration or intensity of the problem (see Flaw #7 below).

 

   Once the underlying reasons for the problem have been validated, the teacher (once again—by him or herself, supported by grade-level colleagues, and/or with members of the Building-level Teacher Support Team) strategically decide how to solve the problem (see Flaw #4).

 

   If the student’s struggles are academically-related (as opposed to behaviorally-related), as in the Figure above, the problem may be solved through strategically-selected:

 

   * Assistive support technologies

   * Remedial approaches

   * Accommodation approaches

   * Curricular modification approaches

   * Targeted Intervention

   * Compensatory strategies

 

   When students are demonstrating social, emotional, or behavioral problems, a comparable continuum is used (after completing the needed functional assessments) that consists of strategically-selected:

 

   * Skill Instruction strategies

   * Speed of Learning and Mastery Acquisition strategies

   * Transfer of Training strategies

   * Emotional Control and Coping strategies

   * Motivational strategies

   * History of Inconsistency strategies

   * Special Situation (Setting, Peer group, and Trauma or Disability-related strategies

 

_ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #3.  Avoiding Diagnostic or Functional Assessment until it is Too Late

 

   Many state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks, adopting the flawed approaches of the U.S. Department of Education's MTSS, PBIS, and RtI Intervention Technical Assistance centers, advocate for a "wait to fail, then assess" strategy.  That is, when students are not succeeding academically (for example) at Tier 1, they recommend 30 minutes of largely unspecified group interventions at Tier 2.  Then, if the students are still having problems, they recommend a diagnostic (or, for behavior, functional) assessment as the entry point to Tier 3.

 

   Significantly, this is the opposite of the “early assessment, early intervention” approaches in most other professions.  Indeed, when called to solve a problem, virtually every doctor, electrician, car mechanic, or other service-providing professional completes a diagnostic assessment at the beginning of the problem-solving process. . . to ensure that their first recommendations are their last recommendations (because the problem is solved).

 

   And so. . . why would anyone, in good conscience, "allow" a student to struggle for six to ten or more weeks in the classroom, and in a Tier 2 intervention, to the point where a diagnostic assessment is finally conducted to figure out what really is wrong?  

 

   And why would anyone do this knowing that, after these multiple and prolonged periods of “intervention” and failure, (a) the problem may be worse (or compounded); (b) the student might be more confused or frustrated or resistant to “another intervention”; and (c) a more intensive intervention might be needed because the problem was not identified and analyzed right from the beginning?

_ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #4.  Not Linking Assessment to Intervention

 

   Many state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks and systems do not delineate the different types of assessment procedures that are typically used in the field (e.g., screening versus progress monitoring versus diagnostic versus implementation integrity versus high stakes/proficiency versus program evaluation assessments).  This often occurs because state departments of education write their guidebooks to meet a statutory requirement . . . rather than to educate their practitioners. 

 

   Relative to RtI processes that effectively help students with academic or behavioral difficulties, state guidebooks and systems typically do not emphasize the importance of linking diagnostic assessment results with the instructional or interventions approaches that have the highest probability of success.

 

   Critically, when school practitioners do not strategically choose their student-focused instructional or intervention approaches based on reliable and valid diagnostic assessment results, they are playing a game of "intervention roulette."  And, as in Vegas, the "house" usually wins.  But, in the classroom, the loss is the student's loss.

 

   Indeed, it is essential to understand that:

 

   Every time we do an intervention that does not work, we potentially make the problem worse, and the student more resistant to the next intervention.

 

   Said a different way:

 

   Intervention is not a benign act. . . it is a strategic act.  We should not be satisfied, professionally, because we are implementing interventions.  We should be satisfied when we are implementing the right interventions based on the right (reliable and valid) assessments, that result in the highest probability of success for an accurately identified and analyzed problem.

_ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #5.  Focusing on Progress Monitoring rather than on Strategic Instruction or Intervention Approaches

 

   Many state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks and systems overemphasize progress monitoring. . . and then, they compound this flaw by overemphasizing curriculum-based measurement (CBM) to the exclusion of other curriculum-based assessment (CBA) approaches.

 

   Moreover, most of the progress monitoring examples—in the state guidebooks that we have extensively reviewed—are solely in the area of reading decoding and fluency (where the progress monitoring research has been most prevalent).

 

   Rarely do you see state guidebooks discuss progress monitoring for vocabulary and comprehension. . . not to mention the lack of progress monitoring examples in the different areas of math, written expression, spelling, and oral expression.  This is because progress monitoring using CBM approaches do not work well here. 

 

   Finally, most state guidebooks do not explain how to effectively create (or evaluate the acceptability of) a progress monitoring probe.  That is, they do not emphasize that progress monitoring approaches must be strategically-selected for the assessment outcomes that they can actually deliver.  The “Bottom Line” here is that progress monitoring approaches must be connected to specific instructional or intervention goals, outcomes, and implementation strategies.  

 

   As noted earlier, progress monitoring is an assessment/evaluation approach.  Thus, for students with academic or behavioral problems, it occurs within the context of a data-based, functional assessment problem-solving process.  Unfortunately, some educators still believe that progress monitoring is the intervention.  Or, they believe that the intervention must fit the progress monitoring tool adopted by the district—rather than the tool being fit to the instructional or intervention outcomes desired.

_ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #6.  Establishing Rigid Rules on Student's Access to More Intensive Services

 

   It is not problematic when a state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebook outlines a blueprint on the prototypical sequences and decision rules that teachers need to follow to "move" students from Tier 1 to Tier 2 to Tier 3.  However, there is a problem when the sequence must be followed in a rigid, fixed way.

 

   Simplistically, there are two types of students with academic or behavioral problems: students with progressive, longstanding, or chronic problems; and students with significant, severe, or acute problems.

 

   For the latter students especially, they often need immediate and intensive (Tier 3, if you will) services, supports, strategies, and/or programs.  They (and their teachers) should not have to go through a series of intervention layers (i.e., from Tier 1 to Tier 2, in order to “qualify” for Tier 3) so that they eventually receive the intensity level of the services that they need.

 

   We all "get" that many administrators worry about an influx of inappropriate referrals to their Building-level Teacher Support Team.  But, if you break your leg, you need to go to the emergency room.  If you try to fix it yourself, or delay the intervention services needed, you may get an infection and lose the whole leg.

 

   The “Bottom Line” is that students who are in the general education classroom and curriculum (i.e., Tier 1), and who need immediate, intensive (Tier 3) assessment and interventions should receive that level of services and supports without having to go sequentially from Tier 1 to Tier 2 to Tier 3.

 

   The "trick is in the training."  Districts and schools need to create collaborative systems where everyone in the school is trained on the data-based problem-solving process.  And at the root of the process is a culture that supports early assessment and intervention through "problem solving, consultation, intervention" strategies that are accompanied by a "check and balance" approach that minimizes the number of capricious referrals to the Building-level Teacher Support Team.

 

   In our 35+ years of school-based experience, this works.  And the results are that (a) more students receive earlier and more successful instructional and intervention approaches; and (b) more general education teachers are leading the entire process. . . with greater enthusiasm, involvement, self-direction, and success.

 

   Isn't this the true goal of a multi-tiered system of supports? 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

Flaw #7.  Setting a "Price" on Access to Multidisciplinary Consultation

 

   To expand on the “Bottom Line” in Flaw #6 above:  If a student needs to be immediately considered by the multidisciplinary Building-level Teacher Support Team, then this should occur without the need for a certain number of interventions, implemented for a certain number of weeks, under a certain set of conditions.

 

   Too many state RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks and systems have created arbitrary decision rules that govern (or “set a price” for) how and when students can be discussed by the Building-level Teacher Support Team. 

 

   For example, a common one is: 

 

   Students cannot be discussed with the Building-level Teacher Support Team unless (for example) three interventions have been implemented by the general education teacher in his or her classroom, for a least three weeks each, and where the progress monitoring or outcome data have clearly demonstrated no student progress.

 

   First of all, there is no research anywhere that validates this decision rule.

 

   Second, the instructional or intervention approaches needed by students should be based on functional assessments.  Moreover, the length of time needed to demonstrate each approaches’ impact will vary by (a) the problem, (b) its history, (c) its status (chronic or acute), (d) the research associated with the approach, and (d) the intensity (e.g., how many times per week) of the approach’s implementation.

 

   Third, this decision rule often results in general education teachers—who have done everything that they know to do—implementing approaches that they have found on the internet or that were recommended “by a colleague” that have no hope of success, and that (as discussed above) actually make the problem worse and the student more resistant to the next intervention.

 

   On one hand, this decision rule is like posting an armed guard at the door of an emergency room who allows access only to those patients—all in immediate need of these critical services—who have previously tried three interventions for three weeks each.

 

   On the other hand, this decision rule is more about controlling the process (that is, minimizing the number of problem-solving or special education referrals), than providing early, effective assessment and intervention services to students in need.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   But, there is one additional extension.  If a teacher needs a consultation with a colleague in order to better understand and work with a student, there should not be restrictions on what colleagues are available.

 

   To be more explicit:  Some district RtI or multi-tiered services guidebooks and systems do not allow, for example, general education teachers to consult with special education personnel (teachers, OTs, PTs, speech pathologists, etc.) until a student needs "Tier 3" attention. 

 

   Sometimes, the reasons for restricting this consult include:

 

   * “The special education teacher (OT, PT, etc.) is paid through federal special education funds that don't allow the consultation to occur earlier."

 

   * “We don’t want to bias the special education professional now, when they might have to make a special education eligibility decision later.”

 

   * “Our special education personnel just do not have the time to provide these consultations over and above their already-full caseloads.”

 

 

   None of these reasons make sense—especially if a consultation early in the multi-tiered process results in "Tier 1" success . . . thereby eliminating the need for more strategic Tier 2, or more intensive Tier 3, assessment and/or intervention attention.

 

   Moreover, relative to the first reason above, this is simply not true.  

 

   Even with the most extreme interpretation, IDEA encourages early intervening services, and it allows districts to use up to 15% of their special education funding for services and supports that are not directed to students with a disability.  Thus, if needed, a district could allocate up to 15% of the FTE of its IDEA-funded personnel for general education teacher consultation, assessment, and intervention.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  

 

Summary and Next Steps

 

   As noted earlier, in Part 2 of this Blog discussion (posted in about two weeks), I will share the proposal’s section addressing Ten Resulting Practices that Need Inclusion in a Multi-Tiered Services Re-Design, and make some concluding comments.

 

   Meanwhile, I hope that this discussion has been useful to you.

 

   In fact, to make it most useful, I recommend the following:

 

   * (Re)Read your state’s multi-tiered system of academic and behavioral support laws, statutes, and implementation guides.  Look for the flexibility (if present) in these documents where your state says, “This is recommended,” as opposed to “This is mandated.”

 

   Many departments of education overstate what is actually required by law, by making their recommendations sound like they are mandated.  More often than not, state department of education recommendations are actually advisory (the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs does this all the time).  And even if they are mandated, districts can always apply for a waiver.

 

   Said a different way:  You want to find the multi-tiered areas of flexibility—where you can create your own procedures and approaches—as long as they are defensible, and result in definitive student outcomes.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   * Analyze your state’s multi-tiered academic and behavioral process, as well as your district’s process, against the Flaws above to determine if you are (inadvertently) following procedures or practices that are represented in one or more of the Flaws.

 

   Remember, one of the only ways to change is to first acknowledge the presence of a problem.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   * Finally, in a data-based way, look at how the flaws that are present have actually (negatively) impacted your students (and staff)—relative to, for example, academic or behavioral outcomes, delaying services or supports, or making the original problems more complex or resistant to change.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   Please understand that I am not trying to be critical of your multi-tiered programs, strategies, or approaches.  But I am strongly recommending that you complete an objective and independent analysis based on the information in this Blog.

 

   In the end, we need to implement programs in our schools that have the highest probability (and actuality) of success.

 

   We cannot figuratively play “Intervention Roulette”—hoping that the multi-tiered processes that are mandated, or that we create to meet those that are mandated, will “work” with our children and adolescents. 

 

   We must use processes that have actually demonstrated successful science-to-practice outcomes—based on sound psychometric, implementation science, and systems scale-up principles and practices.

_ _ _ _ _

 

   Meanwhile, I always look forward to your comments. . . whether on-line or via e-mail.

 

   If I can help you in any of the multi-tiered areas discussed in this message, I am always happy to provide a free one-hour consultation conference call to help you clarify your needs and directions on behalf of your students.

 

   As the leaves begin to turn into bright reds, oranges, and yellows . . . and, indeed, as they begin to fall, please accept my best wishes for a safe and productive two weeks . . . until next “we meet.”

 

Best,

 

Howie

 

 

PASS photo.jpg