MTSS and GATE
There are two processes in our elementary schools that may be confusing for parents: Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE).
MTSS—Multi-Tiered System of Support
Multi-tiered System of Support is a process we use to identify and resolve barriers to learning.
We have an intervention team in the elementary schools led by the principal, facilitated by the school counselor, and composed of teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, the speech/language therapist, and our school psychologist. This team meets at least once a month to review data and provide recommendations for students who are struggling with some aspect of their learning.
We review academic, behavioral, emotional and social issues that could be impeding the success of a student. We identify strategies, accommodations, modifications, and interventions that will increase success. After these interventions have been implemented for a period of time (typically 6 weeks), the team meets to review the data and see if a positive “response” has taken place.
If the learning issues persist over time, the team decides if more information is needed and usually some form of screening or evaluation by the school psychologist follows, once parental approval is given. We are conservative in our approach because young children have so many different paths of normal development. Sometimes, it is prudent to allow instruction to proceed; other times, it is necessary to start a formal evaluation more quickly. We work with parents as a team, having the best interest of the child at heart.
GATE—Gifted and Talented Education
The school counselor facilitates building level screening for gifted education. Gifted education is provided for children who place in the top 2% (98th percentile) of all students and who need an individualized program to reach their potential. The parent or teacher for students in kindergarten through 12th grade can initiate the process. New students are typically screened after the first nine weeks to allow the classroom teacher time to get to know the child before providing learning and classroom information.
The classroom teacher begins the screening process by completing forms to provide information on classroom performance, grades, test scores and learning characteristics. Parents also complete a form to rate learning characteristics of their child. Next, the school counselor schedules a time to meet individually with the student in order to administer brief screening evaluations. The KBIT-2 is a brief cognitive screening and WRAT-4 is a brief achievement test with three parts—word reading, sentence comprehension and math.
The school counselor completes the “Screening and Admission Matrix for Gifted Support.” There are specific criteria for “Yes” and “No” points on the matrix. For instance, on the KBIT-2, a standard score of 130 earns a “Yes.” A standard score of 130 and higher is considered to be in the “gifted” range, represented by the 98th percentile and above. A standard score of 100 is considered to be in the middle of the average range of intelligence and is represented by the 50th percentile on the intelligence scale.
The school counselor adds all of this information to the matrix, which is sent home to parents. If a student does not receive at least 5 out of 7 possible points on the matrix, the process concludes and the parents are informed that the student did not pass the building level screening. A student can be screened once a year for the gifted and talented program.
A student passes building level screening by getting 5 or more points on the matrix. Parents are informed and if they approve, the file is forwarded to Pupil Services for an individual IQ test administered by a certified school psychologist. Pupil Services will send home a permission form to be signed by parents for the evaluation to take place. Once the permission form is returned, the school psychologist will have 60 days to complete the evaluation. Additional points are assigned based on the full scale IQ standard score and a total number of 13 points or more required for eligibility into the gifted and talented education program.
Following the evaluation, an evaluation report is written and sent to parents and to the school. If the student is eligible, the gifted and talented education teacher will write a GIEP (Gifted Individual Education Plan) and schedule a meeting with parents and the principal before services can begin.