The following communication was sent to the UPSD community on May 2, 2018:
Dear Upper Perkiomen community,
We understand that there have been a lot of questions and concerns raised recently about the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in our district. As with any fairly new initiative, we expect that questions will come up, and we wanted to share more about MTSS and related topics with our community. We also expect that as we continue to implement and formalize MTSS, review data and learn more about how MTSS works for Upper Perk, adjustments will need be made to ensure that all of our students thrive and succeed.
First, a bit about MTSS, which was introduced at a state and district level over the past two years. MTSS is a whole school, data driven, prevention-based framework for improving learning and behavioral outcomes for every student. MTSS ensures that we are intervening in all areas—academic, emotional, social and behavioral—where and when it is needed for any student, to assist in determining who should be considered for Special Education Services.
MTSS is not a wait to fail model, but rather enables the district to intervene whenever necessary. While the state provides guidelines for the timeline between interactions throughout the three-tiered system (Tier 1 = entire school, Tier 2 = targeted students, Tier 3 = students with intensive needs), these are simply guidelines, and one of the strengths of MTSS is that interventions can happen whenever necessary.
Over recent years, and even before MTSS was implemented, the district has invested time and resources in our Pupil Services and Special Education areas. Because we are doing more programming in the district, we are actually able to provide more, better support for our students by spending less money than before. Some of these investments include adding behaviorists and a full-time social worker to our staff, implementing crisis teams in every building, offering school-based outpatient therapy, adding an additional HS guidance counselor, refining referral procedures, implementing the Elementary Student Assistance Program (SAP), investing in core and intervention academic programs, formalizing crisis procedures and more.
As we move forward, we will continue to make investments in this area. This will include formalizing aspects of MTSS such as timelines and data collection methods, adding more crisis-trained staff, and streamlining social, emotional, and behavioral skills instruction. We are also bringing in a third-party consultant through the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU) to offer initial training and ongoing in-district support during the 2018-2019 school year. This partnership would allow for experts in the area of MTSS and tiered intervention models to review our current procedures and offer recommendations for improvement as we continue to formalize MTSS.
While we know that we have made a lot of progress on MTSS and in our Pupil Services and Special Education areas as a whole, this is a process, and we still have work to do. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions or concerns.
Dr. Alexis McGloin
Superintendent of Schools
Mr. George Reigle
Director of Pupil Services & Special Education