Many schools use a multitiered system of supports, or MTSS, to deliver targeted instruction and interventions based on students’ needs. Specifically, MTSS refers to a framework that organizes instruction and interventions in a data-informed, tiered system of supports. When schools implement MTSS, it helps ensure all students receive the instruction and interventions needed to be successful. It also improves special education identification and referral practices, which is especially important for English learners (ELs) whose varying English proficiency makes identification of learning disabilities more challenging.
When planning MTSS implementation for ELs, it is important to consider the following:
Though there are no set rules, formulae, or procedures involved in implementing MTSS with ELs that can be easily adopted by all schools, the Project ELITE Implementation Manual offers helpful guidelines to encourage educators to promote effective practices related to MTSS for ELs.
Project ELITE (funded by the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education and housed at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin) developed, tested, and adapted an MTSS in schools that serve high numbers of ELs. Based on their work in those schools, they have developed a manual with guidance for implementing MTSS with populations of ELs.
As described in the manual, the MTSS model has five key components:
Through Project ELITE’s iterative process of model development, key needs of the district were identified, collaboratively addressed, and embedded into the MTSS model. For example, Project ELITE strengthened core instruction for ELs and set up structured data-analysis meetings.
All the materials used to support educators in implementing the model, including all professional development materials, instructional guides, sample lessons, training-of-trainers modules, structured data meeting protocols, and research briefs, are available either within the implementation manual or on the project website: www.elitetexas.org.
A series of guidance booklets, Effective Practices for English Learners, have also been developed.
Other helpful websites:
Useful guidance for implementing MTSS for ELs is available to schools, and educators are encouraged to use the resources described in this article to learn more. By using MTSS to carefully examine students’ needs, the instruction and interventions being provided, and how students respond, greater numbers of students can achieve higher levels of success and reach their potential.
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