Here is an example of how MTSS helps all students, including those who are at grade level. After a year of being instructed using MTSS methods, this first-grade student demonstrated his ability by reading a section of 'The Watsons go to Birmingham,' an eighth-grade level book. Often at low income schools, the focus is just on helping struggling readers to catch up. But at an MTSS school, all students get help and those that are at grade level accelerate, such as this boy.
Testimony from a teacher about the power of MTSS:
Two brothers enrolled in a Southeast Kansas rural school in August of 2017, one in first grade, the other in Kindergarten. The AIMSweb fall benchmark screener demonstrated neither boy knew any letter names or letter sounds. Both of them fell into a Tier 3 intervention grouping. The younger of the two could not speak audibly to me, his teacher. It was further discovered that both boys had forms of autism.
After personally experiencing the results of what the MTSS process has done for our students over the past several years, I saw a challenge ahead, and I was determined to give these special brothers an opportunity to learn and grow with the tools and interventions that have been put in place in our school. I spoke to their parents about enrolling them in our KRR afterschool program. The parents were very apprehensive at first. They shared with me that the teachers in their previous school told them that their sons would probably never learn to read. This only made me more determined, and I was thrilled when the parents agreed to give after school a try! The entire family also joined us in the fall LIFE session.
At the end of the school year, both boys showed significant growth in all areas! The younger brother is speaking clearly now and enjoys school. The older brother is reading grade level books for enjoyment without a lot of teacher support.
One of the most priceless messages I’ve ever received, came from the mother of the boys this past winter. She wrote, “I am in tears as I write this message to you. (The older brother) just read his very first book to me! The whole book, and he read every word all by himself! I can’t thank you all enough for helping my boys be successful and do something that others said would never happen!”
Mark is a third-grade student who was new to our school at the beginning of this year. He scored very low on the Fall Reading Benchmark tests, ranking in the 1st percentile nationally. He started KRR right away in September and has had very good attendance all semester. Now in December he showed great growth on the Winter Reading Benchmark tests. He now ranks in the 7th percentile. Although he is still at high risk, his growth is encouraging – greater than 75 percent of students in the national sample with scores in the “well-below average” range.
At the beginning of the year, Mark would act out, often seeking attention from his peers in an effort to hide his academic struggles. As he has gained confidence in his reading abilities, we have seen a major decrease in his negative behaviors.
~ From a program coordinator
We have a third grader in our program named Bethany. She came to us as child in foster care who was very far behind in school due to her home life. She hated reading and would often times get very angry and frustrated when asked to read in class or just in general.
Over the past year, Bethany has attended both the KRR afterschool and summer school programs. With the extra help, she is finally reading at her grade level, and cannot get her hands on enough books. She told me she loves that she feels like a part of the story.
~ From a program coordinator
Helping an English-language learner in Garden City
Those uncertain about the educational value of afterschool programs should consider the story of six-year old Elvin Ponce-Rodriguez.
Elvin lives in Garden City, located in rural western Kansas. Elvin’s mother, Wendy, works in a meat packing plant and speaks English as a second language.
He was screened for reading and was found far behind in language.