Multi-Tiered System of Support makes Yadkin County Schools fit kids

By Beanie Taylor -

YADKINVILLE — In an effort to comply with state guidelines, several Yadkin County schools will be implementing the Multi-Tiered System of Support.

In an effort to address potential problems before they start, the MTSS addresses not only academic and behavioral concerns, but emotional and social issues as well.

“We’re kind of looking at the whole picture, really, with the MTSS,” said Assistant Superintendent Wayne Duggins, “what are we doing with our core students and if they don’t learn it what are we going to do to intervene.”

It’s important to MTSS and the school administration that the intervention be positive.

“[We want to] positively reinforce good behavior in students and lessen the amount of punitive things that we are doing at the schools,” said Duggins, reflecting on one of many specific aspects the district has been evaluating in the curriculum.

“Instead of just teaching subject matter or content, [schools are] drilling down to the student and [figuring out] how can we move that student forward,” he said. “It’s us as classroom teachers and as administrators trying to meet the kids where they are, and try to help them progress forward.”

Most of the time this is a matter of general instruction.

“The student needs to know what the objective is that they are teaching,” said Duggins. “The student should also be a reflective practitioner of what it is they learned.”

Sometimes, however, students need something different. Students who conform to standard expectations in learning, behavior, emotional and social development and similar traits fall into Tier 1.

“Tier 1 is the majority of our students, about 80 percent,” said Duggins. “They are progressing at a normal rate, we’re meeting them where they are and moving.

“The students in that 20 to 30 percent pocket that aren’t growing, that aren’t moving, [are Tier 2],” said Duggins. These are students who might need some extra guidance, but do not necessarily need to be removed from the general population.

“Just because you’re struggling learning does not mean that there’s always a learning disability,” he said. “Sometime it’s the environment that the student is coming from, the vocabulary that’s spoken around them, the exposure that they have had to different curriculum that they’ve had up until they enter kindergarten.

“Instead of just when a student is struggling immediately looking into whether or not they’re an exceptional child, where they have a specific learning disability or other health-impaired kind of situation, which can be there,” said Duggins, “what are we going to put in place, what are some interventions that we can do to get them to be successful as well?”

Hopefully Tier 2 students will learn to adapt to established parameters by being connected to resources suitable for their specific needs.

“On the academic side, it could be an intervention and enrichment period which all of our elementary schools have built in,” explained Duggins. “For example, if you’re a student in that classroom and you struggle with double-digit addition or subtraction, when you go to your [independent education] time, that teacher would know specifically what to work on with you, what you need.”

It could also be a social group. A middle or high school student who is struggling with socialization might be encouraged into a separate lunch group with similar interests organized by the school.

“That could be an intervention to get them around some other students to get them more involved,” said Duggins, “to get them to feel like they belong. That’s a big piece.

“[MTSS is] really kind of drilling down to the student to bring them up so that when they’re back into the core they’re going to be successful in what they’re doing,” said Duggins. “It’s trying to fill those gaps in to help that child be successful.

“The objective is to make sure that they are in with their same age peers,” he said. “What are the interventions that we are going to put in at the school level, in the core curriculum, to make that happen?

“At Tier 3 is our students who are really struggling and may qualify for Exceptional Children Services,” explained Duggins, stating that these children also are to have their needs met.

“Our resources are limited,” said Duggins. “If you are struggling, you’ll go to that Tier 2 and we’ll try to intervene, but if it gets to where it’s a Tier 3 where we’ve got to do a little more intensive with you, then that’s where we’ll throw our resources.

“We have some of our younger students who go to our Yadkin Success Academy and they are exceptional children and they have behavioral issues,” said Duggins. “We have people in place there [and] we also have our different psychologists and counselors who are working with those students too so that when they do transition back into a regular setting they are there as support for them too so it’s not always the teacher.

“When you talk about a Multi-Tiered System of Support that’s really what it is,” said Duggins. “We’re trying to meet the kid where they are and give them intervention and remediation that needs to happen to move them forward.”

MTSS is more of a framework than a specific program. “We’ve got to put some things in on a district level that are kind of an umbrella that then on a school level will drill down in,” said Duggins. “Their Positive Behavior Support System may look a little different at Boonville than it does at Yadkinville, [but there will be some consistency such as] what are some things we are going to do if a student achieves less office referrals.”

Only three Yadkin County schools are actively implementing the MTSS. “West Yadkin, Boonville and Forbush High School are going to be going to our MTSS district meeting for the Piedmont/Triad,” said Duggins. “They’re going to [do] modeling and try some different things at their schools that the other schools are going to branch out on a little bit in some specific ways.

“I would love to tell you that we have our plan together and we know exactly what we’re doing,” said Duggins, “but we’re building it as we’re moving forward, but we’re really trying to look at the data and where we are.”

Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.

By Beanie Taylor