Systems of Support are the processes and practices that integrate universal instruction, prevention strategies and intervention components to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all BVSD learners. These systems include a strong foundation of safe, inclusive learning environments, strong formative assessment practices, and clear processes for instruction and layered interventions that meet students where they are and move them forward. Through these systems, we will personalize learning for all students.
How do we meet every student’s needs?
BVSD is committed to ensuring that each student meets or exceeds appropriate expectations relative to intellectual growth, physical development, and social emotional well-being. A key action to support this goal is implementation of a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) — a whole school, data-driven, prevention-based framework for improving learning outcomes for every student through a layered continuum of evidence based practices and systems. The MTSS framework is further defined by the Colorado Department of Education, whose definitions and overall model BVSD has adopted.
MTSS is comprised of five components:
- Shared leadership
- Data-based problem solving and decision making
- Layered continuum of supports
- Evidence based instruction, intervention and assessment practices
- Family, school and community partnering
In 2016-17, school-based MTSS Leadership Teams will be planning how to implement the district adopted framework for MTSS at their buildings during the 2017-18 school year. We anticipate that implementation of MTSS will result in increased student success.
How do we measure success?
Few topics in education are as likely to provoke passionate debate as assessment, perhaps because what we choose to measure and how we choose to use those measurements have implications for both the system as a whole and for individual students. Assessment practices will play an important role in BVSD’s implementation of Systems of Support by helping us personalize learning for students. The BVSD Assessment Advisory Committee composed of teachers, building administrators, and central office staff crafted the following guidelines to ensure that BVSD’s assessment practices align with our Mission, Vision, Values and Goals.
- Assessments should reflect the values of a whole-person approach, with attention to academics, social emotional wellbeing, and physical development.
- Assessments must help us learn about our students. What do they need to learn? What kind of learners are they? What are their strengths? What are their interests?
- The system will use a variety of assessments so that students have multiple ways and opportunities to demonstrate skills and understanding.
- The system will strive to include assessment tools, processes, and outcomes that are relevant for students.
- The purposes of assessments should be explicitly stated.
- The assessment system should be efficient.
- Our assessment practices must be inclusive and accessible to all learners.
- Common language around assessment supports system coherence, and the following glossary defines our use of assessment terms.
The BVSD Assessment Advisory Committee also spent some time discussing the multiple purposes that assessment addresses in our district and how we believe those purposes should be defined. At the core of the Boulder Valley School District Vision, Mission, Values is the concept of student success, and the primary goal of our assessment system is to support student success through the following:
Purpose 1: Supporting student success through universal instruction
Assessment tools are needed to inform instruction, support student reflection, engage parent/family support and guide school-based planning for all students. Examples of tools that support this purpose are district common assessments, student demonstrations of mastery, portfolios, supports for formative assessment practice, and tools that help identify students’ strengths and interests.
Purpose 2: Supporting student success through screening, intervention, and progress monitoring
Assessment tools are needed to support the critical elements of a Multitiered System of Supports — a Key Action in the Systems of Support Action Area. These tools include universal screeners, progress monitoring tools and diagnostic tools in the areas of reading, social emotional learning, and math. The screeners, in particular, are critical for a proactive, preventative approach that identifies students students who might benefit from support as early as possible.
Purpose 3: Supporting student success through educator growth
Common Assessment data informs educator effectiveness and supports collaboration among educators. Educators use student assessment results to inform their goal setting and evaluation process. Note, this does not mean that student assessment data must be factored into an educator’s effectiveness rating. Rather, the data should directly inform the annual goal setting process for educators. Student assessment results also inform the professional learning focus at schools and at the district level. Teacher-determined assessments may be used to complement common assessments in this process.
Purpose 4: Supporting student learning through continuous improvement at the system level
Assessment tools are needed to inform district level decisions about programs, resources, and initiatives. In particular, student assessment results inform the evaluation of both the effectiveness of programs (for example: instructional materials, specific professional learning programs, student support programs, etc.) and equity of access for students through monitoring gaps in student success among demographic groups.
As the BVSD Assessment Advisory Committee continues to meet, we will be working to identify specific tools that support these purposes and that align with our guidelines.
By Samantha Messier, Director of Science & Instructional Systems
Chair, Systems of Support Priority Action Team