Continuously Improving Tiered Systems of Supports

While schools generally use a Tiered System of Supports to meet the diverse needs of students, this process is often used reactively and transactionally, rather than proactively. Engaging in ongoing refinement of their Tiered System of Supports can assist schools in providing effective and high-leverage schoolwide universal and personalized supports to all students. A new toolbox from Turnaround for Children provides guidance on how to improve Tiered Systems of Supports, including what data to collect, reflection questions to analyze the data, and a suggested planning form to engage in a continuous improvement cycle.

One key component of a Tiered System of Supports is the process of analyzing and discussing referral data, student support plan data, implementation data, and progress monitoring data. This process is known as continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement helps educators stay the course rather than taking a detour or abandoning the process when faced with challenges. Continuous improvement is an iterative process that serves as a way to better understand a problem and the system that produces it.

Following are some examples of questions school teams can ask when analyzing their Tiered System of Supports data:

  • What does the data tell us about how we might proactively support teachers?
  • Are there trends reflective of unconscious bias in the characteristics of students who are being referred?
  • What type of strategies are most utilized to support students?

We know that one constant in education is that context changes for both the school and the student, as they are within a broader context of policy, systems and structures at the district and federal level. When schools intentionally use data from their Tiered System of Supports, it provides insight to make intentional shifts or changes for all students.

Data can also illustrate the ways in which we are supporting students and potentially demonstrate how we can continue to meet students where they are. A school’s Tiered System of Supports is reciprocal in that it takes in data, responds to it, and communicates outcomes that can then be used to improve both schoolwide and classroom environments.

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