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Interventionist reviewing MTSS data

March 15, 2024

Delsea’s 5 Step Process to Boost the Impact of MTSS

Morgan Paese

OnCourse Communications

Leadership at Delsea and Elk Township School Districts have begun a journey to change how they use data to support all students.  

“We had to reimagine our data to center the student and not the spreadsheet,” says Assistant Superintendent Dr. Anthony Fitzpatrick. In his third year at both districts, Dr. Fitzpatrick admits much of the work began on complex spreadsheets built by hours of manual data input.  

The cumbersome process of compiling data from different sources often resulted in delays, hindering timely interventions and decision-making across teams. “We couldn’t turn the data around fast enough in those first years. We were finding ourselves two to three weeks behind, and then the guidance department couldn’t turn it around and we needed something to operate more seamlessly.” 

Dr. Fitzpatrick and his team aimed to encourage teachers to utilize data daily and establish a sustainable multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) for every student. Here are the 5 steps they took to refocus data on the student not spreadsheet: 

Step 1: Bringing data together in one place.  

First, the district integrated academic, behavioral, and social-emotional data into a unified platform. Leveraging OnCourse as their data unifier, teachers now were accessing data in the same place they recorded grades and attendance. “The more logins I take away from teachers, the more they’re going to use the streamlined solution” explains Fitzpatrick. This enabled teachers to gain insights at a glance, with no additional work.  

Student Story dashboard that shows assessments, grades, attendance, discipline, etc

Step 2: Reimagining data coordination with a Student Success Coordinator. 

Formerly, the district relied on an Evaluation Research Coordinator whose focus was solely on spreadsheets and number crunching. By consolidating data into a centralized system, the arduous task of compiling reports was streamlined. This freed up time for a more proactive approach, transforming the Evaluation Research Coordinator bound to a desk into a Student Success Coordinator that directly engaged with students and teachers on a daily basis. 

Step 3: Design automations & refining interventions.

The next step was refining intervention strategies based on live data analysis. Using a live data dashboard the district automatically tiers students based on chosen parameters. By identifying gaps and adjusting interventions on a biweekly basis, the district ensured timely support for students. These dashboards are accessible to staff and teachers and automatically updated. 

Recognizing the pivotal role of early intervention, the district has primarily focused the Student Success Coordinator efforts at the elementary level. Student Success Coordinator, Mary Beth Warfield revamped the I&RS process and the process of identifying gifted and talented students.

Rather than adhering to a rigid definition of gifted and talented, the district adopted a more inclusive approach. Students achieving on or above level in reading and math were granted access to the gifted and talented program, fostering a culture of academic excellence without exclusion. Warfield designed a color-coded dashboard with Star, i-Ready, Achieve 3000 Lexile, IRLA, and state testing data, making it easy to identify students who could now be accepted into the Gifted and Talented program. Acceptance is also done on a rolling basis, allowing students to access the program at different points in the year.

Browser showing a student data dashboard in OnCourse Multiple Measures

Step 4: Deliver the right data at the right time. 

The implementation of notification triggers in OnCourse Analytics further heightened responsiveness. “We’re trying to build a system that will send that alert so that we don’t have to count on humans to carve out that time to search for the areas of immediate need” says Fitzpatrick. Instead of relying on staff to run reports when a change occurs, the information is delivered right to them encouraging them to act. The notifications create a collective responsibility and ensure that someone will address the student, event, or action needed.

Step 5 : Cultivate a sustainable system of tiered supports. 

Acknowledging that every student has unique needs, the district adopted a proactive approach to intervention and began implementing the MTSS framework.  “Every kid is in a tier. Every kid needs intervention. We track consistently and collaboratively. We integrate our data effectively in our practice and our platform. That is a gift of putting our data in one place.” 

Bringing everything together in an integrated platform has changed how the district spends time. Rather than manually parsing students into intervention tiers, students can enter or exit supports with more automation. Staff efforts can now be invested in collaboration and action, rather than on data collection or parsing through subjective theories about student performance. With fewer impediments, staff can truly focus on adding value to every student interaction.

Dr. Fitzpatrick acknowledged that they have made progress with good information and hard conversations and concluded, “We are in a better place than we started, and I know that this work is just beginning.” 

His efforts to rethink the district’s data strategy have led to a partnership in the development of the new OnCourse MTSS software. OnCourse MTSS helps districts identify at-risk students, design effective interventions, and monitor student progress. Learn more about OnCourse MTSS here.

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