State Department of Education launches initiative to support Alabama schools

MTSS is a framework to help educators identify students’ specific challenges and get those students the right kind of support.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 3:39 PM CDT
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GENEVA, Ala. (WTVY) - The Alabama State Department of Education is launching an initiative they believe will greatly benefit schools in the coming years.

It’s called MTSS, meaning Multi-Tiered System of Supports.

MTSS is a framework to help educators identify students’ specific challenges and get those students the right kind of support.

For this first year, 34 districts were chosen to participate, including Henry and Geneva Counties, and Enterprise, Daleville, and Ozark City Schools.

“It’s basically getting everyone around the table to discuss the student and say what it is that they need to make sure that they are a college, career, or workforce ready graduate,” explains Kristie Shankles, MTSS Education Specialist.

The initiative has one goal.

“To ensure that we are providing whatever support is needed,” says Shankles. “If it’s academic support, behavioral support, or foundational wellness support to ensure that that student has success.”

A regional coach is assigned to each district, tasked with finding out what those schools need.

Shankles continues, “Instead of a one-size fits all, because it’s not a one-size fits all.”

For Geneva County, the program means focusing more on the whole child.

“Since COVID-19 we’ve found that our kids have a lot more needs than just academic, and so I think it’s really gonna help us as far as the state department being a resource and being there when we need them as far as professional development for our teachers and strategies for our students,” expresses Becky Birdsong, Superintendent of Geneva County Schools.

Birdsong plans to use the state support to make necessary improvements.

“We do need help with attendance,” says Birdsong. “That’s been an issue in certain schools more than others. Definitely here in Geneva County we need to work on our math scores, we know that’s a weakness.”

Year one of this initiative will focus on communication between schools and parents.

From there, it will be a slow and steady process achieving what districts need to go from good, to great.

MTSS is a five-to-eight-year partnership, but support will continue after that.

By the year of 2027, all districts in the state will be involved.

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