Accelerate the MTSS Process with Student Overview Dashboards

Posted by Courtney StevensO

May 23, 2019


Teachers need a nuanced understanding of their students’ strengths and weaknesses if they are to help them succeed. Hoonuit’s student overview pages are a great tool for tracking data in a way that paints a complete picture.

 

Dropout rates in American public schools have been trending in the right direction since the turn of the century. This uptick in high school graduation can be attributed in large part to improved — and expanded — rollouts of early warning systems. But while gaining insight into which students are struggling as early as possible is important, responding in a direct, effective way is just as, if not more, important.

 

This latter imperative was the impetus for the development of a series of approaches commonly grouped under the umbrella term, “responses to intervention (RTI).” RTI organizes students into three tiers, enabling teachers to provide targeted interventions that better address students’ individual needs.

 

Tier 1 encompassses every student who needs any sort of additional instruction to meet grade-level expectations — often as much as three-quarters of a class. Tier 2 targets students who need slightly more supplemental support (usually 10 to 15 percent of a class), which may take the form of small group tutoring or instruction delivered via an alternative pedagogical approach. Finally, Tier 3 is reserved for students who need individualized support to stay on track — usually between five and seven percent of a class.

 

As beneficial as this three-tiered model has been, educators are increasingly realizing that academic performance alone doesn’t always tell the whole story of why a student is struggling. Young people are, in fact, people before they are students, and it is therefore incumbent upon educators to attend to the needs of “the whole child,” not merely “the learner.” As such, in recent years, RTI has started to evolve into a new, wider-ranging approach: multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS).

 

The MTSS Model

 

MTSS is an approach to intervention that aims to expand teachers’ understandings of students by considering all parts of students’ lives — not just how they perform in the classroom. Like RTI, MTSS utilizes a tiered structure, but it also includes everything from the “ABCs of student intervention” — attendance, behavior, and course performance — to information on students’ social and emotional competencies, family situations, and other vital nonacademic factors.

 

By introducing this multifaceted tiered structure, MTSS requires teachers to take a more holistic look at students, including both areas in which they’re excelling and areas in which they’re struggling. In addition to facilitating more targeted academic interventions, this allows teachers to provide better social and emotional support both inside and outside the classroom, including positive behavioral intervention and support (PBIS) measures designed to address students’ acting out.

 

However, to implement MTSS effectively, teachers need access to a wide variety of datasets — attendance figures, behavioral records, grades, standardized test scores, and more. Not only does this data need to be collected, but it must also be organized and readily accessible. This is why Hoonuit’s Data Analytics solution provides educators with student overview pages.

 

The Value of Student Overview Pages

 

Although teachers are always eager to help struggling students, traditional methods of data collection have not made it easy for them to do so. Teachers who don’t have access to centralized data systems often have to rely on one-off Excel spreadsheets, Google Docs, or paper forms to collect relevant information from various stakeholders in a school. They must either go to a principal to collect disciplinary records, a homeroom teacher for attendance numbers, and so on, or log in to a number of various systems individually, resulting in a process that is not only tedious, but ineffective.

 

Hoonuit’s student overview pages are designed to centralize student data so teachers can avoid scrambling around their schools to gather the crucial pieces of information they need to implement effective student support. These pages not only provide comprehensive student data — GPA, standardized test scores, disciplinary incidents, attendance, and even tardiness — but generate intuitive visualizations that help illuminate a student’s unique strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

Student overview pages are highly customizable, enabling districts to pick and choose which pieces of data their teachers see at any given time and empowering teachers to organize this data in ways that suit their needs. What’s more, the pages offer longitudinal data gathered over the course of many years, providing teachers with overarching trendlines instead of isolated “snapshots.” This additional “horizontal” context is critical to ensuring teachers don’t implement unnecessary interventions in response to a “blip” in performance rather than a genuine problem.

 

Such a centralized, customizable dashboard is essential to any MTSS initiative, as it takes a tremendous — often even prohibitive — amount of time and energy for educators to orchestrate an effective intervention if they are unable to see all of an individual student’s data.

 

The Cornerstone of MTSS

 

While student overview pages streamline the MTSS process considerably, it’s important to note that they are not a be-all-end-all solution for student intervention. Teachers still need to actively engage with the data they collect in order to address students’ struggles effectively — student overview pages tell teachers where an intervention is needed, not necessarily what that intervention should entail.

 

To help educators figure out the “what,” Hoonuit provides intervention tracking, monitoring, and communication tools right within the platform, as well as intervention template creation tools that enable districts to provide guidance and keep track of intervention performance — a whole other blog post for another day.

 

But ultimately, the holistic views of students delivered by overview pages provide a rock-solid cornerstone for any MTSS initiative to build upon. We have designed our student overview pages to help teachers take deep dives into individual students to understand the full story of why they might be struggling. Gaining access to such insights into students reduces the time it takes to initiate an intervention from a matter of days to a matter of minutes, helping ensure each student receives the quality attention they deserve when they need it most.

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