Meeting students’ needs with regard to developing their skills in school is a priority for counselors who design corresponding initiatives. One of the frameworks they use is Multi-Tiered Multi-Domain Systems of Support (MTMDSS), and it is critical to examine its efficiency. Therefore, this paper aims to analyze the factors included in the MTMDSS for the above goal on the basis of a single facility.
The Role of Professional School Counselor
The first consideration, which is critical for understanding the way the MTMDSS works on the grounds of a single educational institution, is the role of professional school counselors. It is related to the creation of programs encompassing a variety of conditions as per this model, which address students’ needs (Hatch, 2017). In this way, they are responsible for suggesting an optimal “universal academic, career and social/emotional development” (Hatch, 2017). This task is divided into various steps, which include gathering sufficient data on the school, revealing the gaps in education, and elaborating measures to eliminate them (Hatch, 2017). From this perspective, these specialists are important for monitoring progress and timely identifying deviations from the plan and, more specifically, struggling individuals. In this way, the school manages to offer assistance to these students.
Direct and Indirect Support of the MTMDSS
According to the description of the role of a professional school counselor, their direct and indirect support is manifested in different areas. Thus, the former is primarily connected to the work with small groups and individuals, which implies consultations on challenges they face in the studying process as per Tiers 2 and 3 (Hatch, 2017). These measures are aimed at resolving the issues at hand as soon as they emerge and can be described as short-term interventions. In turn, the latter is reflected by the management of curriculum and development of school-wide activities designed to indirectly assist educators and their students without considering personal problems (Hatch, 2017). This aspect corresponds to Tier 1 and can be viewed as indirect since it practically excludes the possibility of implementing an individualized approach.
The Provided Services
The school under consideration provides numerous services in order to meet the above objectives. In Tier 1, they include conducting regular school-wide events (at least twice a month), planning the curriculum, and organizing parent education programs alongside consulting services on career readiness for grades 7-12. In Tier 2, the elaborated options include the support of students with difficulties in learning, programs for dual-language learners, and monitoring attendance rates to improve them. In Tier 3, school counselors offer individualized measures in the case of emergency, finding solutions for family problems preventing academic success, and meetings with parents to improve the assistance for their children. In this way, it can be concluded that almost all domains within the Tiers are addressed, whereas there are some improvements that can be made in this regard.
Strengths of the MTMDSS
The main strengths of the implemented MTMDSS in the school are related to the collaboration of counselors with students’ parents and the emphasis on the importance of individual measures. Thus, the involvement of family members is evident in Tier 1 (parent education programs) and Tier 3 (meetings with parents). These two initiatives seem beneficial for a positive outcome of interventions since the psychological assistance is underpinned by support at home. In turn, the adoption of an individualized approach is demonstrated by the provision of counseling services on career readiness in Tier 1 and the effective resolution of challenges in Tier 3. As can be seen from these two statements, the revealed problem is the neglect of Tier 2 with respect to the participation of parents and work with separate students.
Challenges of the MTMDSS
Considering the revealed gaps in the developed interventions, the challenges of the MTMDSS in the school include the lack of such measures for Tier 2. In this way, the parent support is related only to individual consultations with their children and education programs, allowing them to understand their needs and the ways of addressing them. Meanwhile, their exclusion from the tasks of overcoming specific difficulties in learning, including the measures developed for dual-language students, means the insufficiency of these programs for eliminating the corresponding risks. Similarly, their neglect of attendance rates also presents a threat to the academic results of their children, whereas family members could have had a positive influence in this area. Therefore, the current need is the elaboration of programs in Tier 2 to enhance the participation of all affected persons.
The Ways to Strengthen the MTMDSS
The task of strengthening the MTMDSS correlates with the requirement to address the problems identified in the previous sections. They are connected to the complete modification of measures implemented in Tier 2 in order to increase their efficiency. First, the support provided for students with difficulties in learning and their dual-language counterparts should be reported to their parents on a regular basis. This initiative will help inform them of the feasibility of these methods of overcoming the current obstacles. Second, the attendance rates of their children and their correlation with the mentioned issues should also be explained to them. It is clear that the physical presence of family members is not always possible; therefore, the provision of data in this regard by school counselors will be advantageous for increasing awareness.
Collected and Analyzed Data
The data collected and analyzed by professional school counselors in the selected educational institution varies depending on the implemented programs. Thus, in Tier 1, they include conducting surveys on the students’ reactions to school-wide events and suggestions for the future. They are complemented by receiving feedback for parents participating in programs to improve them and gathering the statistics of students whose struggles with career choices were not fully addressed. In Tier 2, the counselors collect data on the number of learners with different types of difficulties to monitor their progress. In Tier 3, they use the statistics of emergencies and the percentage of cases that were not efficiently resolved. These facts allow them to improve the functioning of interconnected systems and highlight challenges.
Types of Data
As can be seen from the types of data gathered by school counselors, they are primarily related to mindsets and behaviors, outcomes, and participation. Thus, the presence of comprehensive statistics on current dynamics correlates with the activity of students and parents in resolving emerging issues. The particular attention to their conduct and perceptions is reflected by numerous surveys, allowing us to trace the changes in these areas. As for the results of proposed interventions, they are also demonstrated by the number of students with problems and emergencies. In this way, the most crucial categories of information are included in the monitoring systems implemented by the specialists to increase the productivity of school work.
Universal Screening and Interventions
Universal screening is an essential component of the MTMDSS, implying the initiative of assessing students. It reveals the number of learners, which are in need of individual measures of support or, in other words, comprise the most vulnerable group of children within an educational facility (Briesch, Chafouleas, & Chaffee, 2018). The resulting data allows for determining further interventions, including movement from Tier 1 to Tier 2. This process is performed through the shift of attention of counselors from the majority of students to their less successful counterparts on the basis of assessment. The role of the evaluation outcomes in this respect is related to the necessity to take measures for all learners if less than 80% of them are capable of achieving mastery of subjects (Geiger & Oehrtman, 2020). If this condition is met, the solution should be found in interventions in Tier 2.
Collaboration of Family and School Within a K-12 System
Family and school collaboration within a K-12 system happens through reporting the results of students and conducting regular meetings. These programs correspond to Tiers 1 and 3 in the first place since the education of parents and individual struggles of learners are a priority for the selected school. The cooperation of the above parties is especially critical in terms of career counseling since it allows for timely detection the problems and eliminate them for future academic successes of learners (Morningstar, Lombardi, & Test, 2018). From this perspective, the MTMDSS facilitates the communication and the exchange of information between them, which, subsequently, helps efficiently address everyone’s needs. In addition, distinguishing the vulnerable groups of students in a K-12 system as per the adopted framework contributes to the productiveness of the school.
To summarize, the selected school is reported to be efficient in implementing the MTMDSS as per the needs of its students. The well-established relationships between learners, their families, and counselors add to the positive outcome of these interventions. The only suggestion for improving the situation is to introduce the collaborative measure in Tier 2, whereas the specialists of this educational facility sufficiently address other areas.
Briesch, A. M., Chafouleas, S. M., & Chaffee, R. K. (2018). Analysis of state-level guidance regarding school-based, universal screening for social, emotional, and behavioral risk. School Mental Health, 10(2), 147-162.
Geiger, S. N., & Oehrtman, J. P. (2020). School counselors and the school leadership team. Professional School Counseling, 23(1 part 3).
Hatch, T. (2017). Multi-tiered, multi-domain system of supporters by Trish Hatch, Ph.D. Web.
Morningstar, M. E., Lombardi, A., & Test, D. (2018). Including college and career readiness within multitiered systems of support framework. AERA Open, 4(1).