System Of Support For School Improvement

December 17, 2015

On Wednesday [Dec 16] in the House of Assembly, Education Minister Wayne Scott spoke about the implementation of a system-wide Multi-Tiered System of Supports or MTSS Framework.

Minister Scott said, “This morning I am pleased to share with this Honourable House, the progressive work that has been started and what is being planned to raise achievement, increase learning outcomes, and improve behavior for all students in the Bermuda Public School System.

“The implementation of a system-wide Multi-Tiered System of Supports or MTSS Framework will help steer the achievement of these goals through researched-based academic and behavior intervention programmes.

“The MTSS Framework comprising a three-tiered level system of support in that during the classroom learning experience, the instructional leader follows the MTSS Model ensuring that a minimum of 80% of students in the classroom experience on-going success with effective instruction – reflected as the Tier 1 student support level.

“The Tier 2 level of student support ensures no more than 15% of students in a classroom require some support of targeted interventions. Tier 3 student support level ensures that a maximum of only 5% of students in a classroom should require intensive individualized support.

“As the MTSS structure is modeled in the classroom, the framework embeds strategies and routines that contribute to a safe learning environment where instruction can be delivered with high integrity so that students at any level of learning experience success.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,
This morning I am pleased to share with this Honourable House, the progressive work that has been started and what is being planned to raise achievement, increase learning outcomes, and improve behavior for all students in the Bermuda Public School System. The implementation of a system-wide Multi-Tiered System of Supports or MTSS Framework will help steer the achievement of these goals through researched-based academic and behavior intervention programmes.

Mr. Speaker,
Let me first provide this Honourable House some background information about the MTSS Framework and then indulge in highlighting the implementation to-date.

During the 2013/2014 school year, the Department of Education undertook an ambitious plan to engage the community in discussions and actions regarding inclusive and special education. From these discussions the 2013 Inclusive and Special Education Discussion Paper was developed which states the overall need to improve the education system as it relates to inclusive and special education while also improving student achievement for all learners in the public school system.

The 2013 Discussion Paper sets as one priority, the need to introduce a general problem-solving framework for all students, made up of comprehensive prevention and early intervention supports across the public education system. This priority provides the foundation of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports [MTSS] framework for building a “school-wide”, multi-tiered academic and behavioural system ensuring student success.

Mr. Speaker,
Based on the philosophy that student achievement improves when classroom and school climates are safe, engaging, and dedicated to improving academic, social, and learning behaviors of all students, the Department of Education has embarked on a five-year plan to implement and evaluate MTSS across all levels within the public school system – Preschool, Primary, Middle and Senior Schools.

Mr. Speaker,
The MTSS Framework comprising a three-tiered level system of support in that during the classroom learning experience, the instructional leader follows the MTSS Model ensuring that a minimum of 80% of students in the classroom experience on-going success with effective instruction – reflected as the Tier 1 student support level. The Tier 2 level of student support ensures no more than 15% of students in a classroom require some support of targeted interventions. Tier 3 student support level ensures that a maximum of only 5% of students in a classroom should require intensive individualized support. As the MTSS structure is modeled in the classroom, the framework embeds strategies and routines that contribute to a safe learning environment where instruction can be delivered with high integrity so that students at any level of learning experience success.

Mr. Speaker,
The MTSS Framework has proven to be highly successful in several school districts in the United States while incorporating the following six components:

  • 1.Implementation of Four Core School Rules
  • 2.Consistent effective, high quality delivery of the Core Curriculum
  • 3.Implementation of a Classroom Management Programme
  • 4.Utilization of a Data Management System
  • 5.Implementation of Anti-Gang, Anti-Bullying and Social Skills Programmes, and
  • 6.Utilization of Evidenced Based Intervention Programs for Academics and Behaviour

Mr. Speaker,
Let me add that the MTSS Framework is one of the five current school improvement initiatives being implemented in our public schools. During the past school year there has been the need to address rising concerns about negative student behaviours impacting learning. In this regard, the Department of Education has focused on the behavioural component of the MTSS framework first, to impact the culture and environment in schools. To-date it is pleasing to know that I can walk in any of our public schools and see visibly displayed for teachers, students and parents the first component of the MTSS Framework which states the following four core school rules. All students speak these rules with understanding:
i] Be Respectful
ii] Be Responsible
iii] Be Safe, and
iv] Be Ready to Learn
Establishing the four core rules in schools is the first step to change the system culture and setting a consistent systemic behavioural expectation in all classrooms. The MTSS Framework cannot be fully implemented overnight. As such, a three-phase school improvement MTSS plan has been developed to steer the implementation of the six components over a five-year period – 2015 to 2019.

Mr. Speaker,
Let me now share summary highlights of action tasks, achievements and outcomes to-date that the Department of Education has been engaged in to introduce and commence implementation of the MTSS Framework in the Public School System.

In February 2014, a MTSS Implementation Team of technical officers travelled overseas to attend the annual Northwest Conference that focused on Positive Behavioural Interventions and Supports [PBIS], one arm of the MTSS framework. While overseas the team engaged in meetings with PBIS Coaches responsible for leadership and coordination of PBIS within a Public School System. At the same time visits were made to two exemplar schools skilled at not only the implementation of the PBIS process but also the Response to Instruction and Intervention [RtII] classroom procedures, another arm of the MTSS framework. The team acquired in-depth information on best practice applications of PBIS and RtII for establishing in Bermuda that aligns with global standards. This led to the completion of a MTSS Project Plan for the school system in December 2014.

Mr. Speaker,
The MTSS team subsequently completed a MTSS Sustainability Plan in June this year that mapped out the need for system-wide professional development training for Principals, teachers, Department staff and partner agency representatives. The first part of this plan was put in place in September and October with a series of leadership training sessions held for Principals, Administrators, MTSS Coaches and Department staff. The training was conducted by expert Dr. Heather George, a leading researcher with the University of South Florida and President of the Association for Positive Behaviour Support. The Department of Education is now positioned to build train-the-trainer capacity for sustainability in the school system.

Mr. Speaker,
The successful implementation of the MTSS Framework in the Public School System will take the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders. To this end, several public community stakeholders have been invited to serve as a member of a MTSS Community Based Steering Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to oversee the general direction, goals and progress of the MTSS implementation process within the school system. The Committee comprises Department staff, technical officers and representatives from partner agencies such as Youthnet; the Family Centre; and the Department of Health.

Mr. Speaker,
I believe that just as parents and the broad community want the best for our students, so do our educators and partner agencies who are committed to do what is needed to work together towards improving student behavior, student learning and student achievement in the classroom.

Mr. Speaker,
This is just the beginning. The MTSS Framework is a broad imitative and there is still much more work to do for the improvement of our schools. It is anticipated that as the MTSS team progresses through the Project Plan the MTSS goals will be achieved for targeted change in improving the educational and social state of the Bermuda Public School System.

Mr. Speaker,
Before I close, let me share that the Government has made significant financial investment in the professional development of our educators. This extends beyond the MTSS training. There has been a series of professional development training initiatives and opportunities afforded our school leaders and teaching staff since the 2014/15 school year. This training supports our system-wide school improvement goals. The overall objective has been to equip our principals, teachers and technical staff to facilitate student achievement at increasing levels. We believe that our teaching staff are better equipped with the skills and knowledge aligned with best practices of pedagogy. This will ultimately result in increased student achievement.

Mr. Speaker,
To this end, moving forward our focus will be on application and accountability for Department of Education officers, principals, teachers and teaching staff with emphasis on increased and continuous application of the professional learning. Our intent is to continue to support all teaching staff during the implementation of the training in the classrooms so that the quality of teaching and leadership improves for greater student outcomes.

Mr. Speaker,
As Minister of Education, I remain committed to putting our children first so that they experience continuous achievement and learning success.

Thank you,
Mr. Speaker.

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  1. hmmm says:

    The classroom needs to be a passionate learning environment. Teachers should seek to inspire their students to want to be engaged in learning.