Project DataWall: A Decision Support System for MTSS
The goal of this project is to develop and pilot test a decision support system (DSS) by combining DataWall with Team Initiated Problem Solving (TIPS) protocols. The purpose of this system is to assist elementary schools in implementing multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) by improving the fidelity of MTSS implementation and eventually enhancing student outcomes.
DataWall is a web-based application that integrates or links multiple data sources to help educators, school administrators, and technical assistance teams (a) identify organizational and student strengths and needs, (b) guide data-based problem solving, and (c) monitor progress related to MTSS implementation and support. By uniquely combining different data sources in DataWall, it is our intention to provide a useful picture to make better administrative and instructional decisions.
TIPS is a set of evidence-based, structured checklists that ensure educators remember important steps in problem solving. The Decision Protocol in TIPS has six steps: (a) identify problems with precision, (b) identify goal for change, (c) identify solutions and create implementation plan with contextual fit, (d) implement solution with high integrity, (e) monitor impact of solution and compare against goals, and (f) make summative evaluation decision. Our hypothesis is that the combination of DataWall and TIPS (i.e., DSS) will enhance data-based decision making through a standard approach for assessing quality of implementation, simultaneous reviews of behavior and academic data, multi-level data reviews (i.e., universal and student group levels instead of simple focus on individual students), visual analytics informing instructional support choices, and user-friendly data interfaces.
A data-driven culture requires appropriate attitudes among educators that help them view data as an essential tool to investigate questions about organizational and student learning needs. Administrative support can play an important role in encouraging educators to be engaged in data-based problem solving, and technology can powerfully support this by providing charts and other information graphics, table, and data analysis functions in a user-friendly format.
DSS will be timely innovation for several reasons. First, DSS potentially will enable strong MTSS implementation. A number of state education agencies have State Systemic Improvement Plans that encourage or mandate elementary schools in their vicinity to initiate, implement, and sustain MTSS. Thus, Every Student Succeeds Act laid the foundation the current expansion of MTSS in schools on a national level. Many elementary schools are now wisely requesting support to implement such a complex system, and their concerns are warranted. The iterative interplay of development and research activities will allow this project to develop an operational decision support system to meet these needs.
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