Five years into California’s MTSS implementation, academic scores are up, disciplinary measures are down and rates of bullying and harassment have decreased.
Those were some of the outcomes shared during a briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 2 that brought together educators and policy makers from across the state to discuss recent investments and progress in implementing California’s Multi-Tiered System of Support.
Hosted by Senator Dave Min, OCDE and the Butte County Office of Education, the webinar walked attendees through the next phase of MTSS implementation and new state budget funding that is set to build the capacity of school systems and provide universal support, including early identification and intervention for all students.
During his opening remarks, Senator Min, who served as one of three members of the 2021 budget subcommittee on education, said that generationally this has been a difficult time for young people and recent events have only created new challenges and pressures for students.
“Schools are more than just educational facilities for students, they provide meals and safe havens for our young people,” Min said. “The California MTSS framework provides an incredible resource for districts and schools to effectively provide universal and more intensive supports for all students across Orange County and the state.”
As we’ve previously shared, MTSS is a framework of evidence-based strategies designed to support the academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs of students. In 2016, the state Department of Education awarded OCDE an initial allocation of $10 million to scale up MTSS statewide following a task force report that cited the need for a unified framework. Twenty million dollars was later earmarked to train local education agencies to implement the California MTSS framework.
And while MTSS may seem a bit complicated, the program is growing — and it’s working. OCDE Interim Chief Academic Officer Dr. Christine Olmstead, who is head of the California MTSS leadership team, said during her presentation that as a result of MTSS training for teachers and educators, local schools are seeing improved student outcomes in many areas.
“When we look at MTSS across the state, we are seeing that rates of suspension and expulsion have decreased, bullying and harassment have decreased, and discipline referrals are decreasing,” said Olmstead. “The reason we are seeing these positive outcomes is because teachers and support staff are provided the resources they need to be able to mitigate these issues with appropriate supports and preventions so they don’t have to become interventions.”
This year, an additional $50 million in state funding has been allocated to support the third phase of the MTSS framework which allows for further school-based implementation including a pathway certification course for school teachers, counselors and administrators.
“When we talk about a Multi-Tiered System of Support we are talking about a continuum of support,” said Olmstead. “The continuum of support means all students are provided prevention and intervention services regardless of eligibility of other services.”
MTSS and implementation of services for students cannot be done without whole system engagement, and Olmstead said new funding allows for future growth of the program to ensure that all students have their needs met each and every day.
“Support for the MTSS framework received from the state and local regions allows us to make local districts the point of intervention so that schools can be that place of transformation and we keep students and families at the center of our work,” she said.
For additional information about California’s MTSS Framework, visit www.ocde.us/mtss.