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Midlakes Focused on 'Systems of Support'

The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District is implementing a "Multi-Tiered Systems of Support" to address the academic, behavioral, and individual needs of every Midlakes student. 

The data-driven framework aligns the District across grade levels to bring a consistent way of setting classroom and school-level expectations, delivering quality instruction, and establishing quality relationships. 

»MORE: What is Eagle Time?

Michelle Robinette, director of curriculum and instruction, shares more on how MTSS has already impacted Midlakes Schools and what’s to come for students and staff. 

Question: How far along is the District in implementation? 
Answer: We have come quite a long way. We have been focused on reconnecting and developing strong relationships with students who are back on campus. We’ve added Eagle Time, which allows our Grades 7-12 staff to gauge how students are doing daily while working with them on some fun and creative projects. They participated in a pumpkin decorating contest sponsored by PTO, played Loteria (a traditional Mexican bingo game), decorated fall-themed cookies, and connected in many other ways. 

Q: So the District is really trying to hit that social-emotional component? 
A: Yes. We have added a Character Strong social-emotional curriculum, a "What I Need" time for students to get help in reading, math and other areas, morning meetings with students to go along with regular parent/student communications, and extracurricular activities. Also, each month, we reinforce a different social-emotional character trait. For instance, in November we are focused on "gratitude" with students and in December it’ll be "honesty."

Q: What are the "tiers" or levels of support that make up the framework? 
A: Think of it as a pyramid with three main sections. The bottom tier is the primary level of instruction and support delivered to all students. We want to lay the foundation and then build upon it. Tier II focuses on a secondary level of interventions, which includes small group and individualized support for students. Tier III focuses on the most intensive support for students. 

Q: What are some examples of support in Tier I? 
A: In part, it’s the social-emotional piece under building quality relationships. Setting school-wide expectations has us talking to students about being kind, following directions, keeping our schools neat and organized, and making safe and healthy choices. But it also goes further by setting expectations for Zoom meetings — if we ever need them again — and the appropriate use of SeaSaw (K-6) and Schoology (7-12). Tier 1 academically represents our core math and reading components. Of course, these are just a few examples. 

Q: What about delivering quality instruction? 
A: It’s another key focus area. We developed a direct instruction checklist of researched-based practices and lessons. We also have an "If … Then" toolkit. An example might be, if a student is struggling in math computation, then use manipulatives as counters, hundreds charts, or number lines. These are the first lines of intervention at the classroom level. 

Q: How will the District place students? 
A: Through a variety of measures, including assessments and other data, that have been delineated in flow charts. For Reading and Math, each grade level has its own flow chart K-8. For social-emotional needs, there is a K-6 flow chart and a 7-12 flow chart. If a teacher notices an area of concern they can follow the flow chart for the next level of support, which could involve working with other school personnel and family members. 

Q: What other data will the District use to measure success? 
A: We are working to create a dashboard of information, that includes our Multi- Tiered Systems of Support, attendance information, and demographic data, behavioral information as well as academic and other benchmarks. This will help us pinpoint those students needing more support and provide those supports more quickly. 

Q: What’s next? 
A: We had another MTSS session during our October 27 Superintendent’s Conference Day and will have other grade-level and internal staff meetings. We will continue to add and update as needed. I’m hopeful that the implementation of our MTSS plan and having students back in school will have a significant positive impact on their success. As some students grow and need less support, we will be able to intensify the level of intervention other students receive who aren’t showing as much progress. 

PARENT MEETING 

The District plans to hold a Title I Parent meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 14 in the Elementary School Cafeteria (prior to the PTO meeting at 6:30 p.m.) to discuss the MTSS plan in further detail and answer questions.