Visualizing and Understanding the NDMTSS Academic Strand.

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Visualizing and Understanding the NDMTSS Academic Strand

Academic Strand Visual

We know that building an NDMTSS system is not an easy task and that it can and will look different across the state based on district size, communities, etc. BUT we know that through the strands that have been developed we have dedicated team members and highly-qualified consultants to help support and guide you to developing, installing, and continually improving a system that works for you and that brings success to ALL your students.

As you look at the image above you see the timeline of the Developing an Academic System of Supports strand and the courses most schools/districts go through over the course of approximately three years depending on what may already be in place. The courses build upon one another and take a school/district NDMTSS Leadership Team through Stages of Implementation: Exploration, Installation, Initial Implementation, and Full Implementation/Sustainability.

Implementation Stages

Building Your System – Exploration (Assess need; Examine fit and feasibility)

As a school/district team determine that there is a need to create a stronger system for ALL students and need guidance and tools to do so, Building Your System is the perfect place to start as it assists them in determining their desired state of providing high-quality instruction and interventions matched to student need. Within the course itself, they’ll understand the need to monitor progress frequently to be able to make decisions about changes in instruction and/or gorals. Teams will work together to build an action plan to determine the resources and support necessary to ensure every student is provided the opportunity to succeed.

After an overview and understanding of NDMTSS and its FIVE essential components: Assessment, Data-Based Decision Making, Multi-Tier Instruction, Infrastructure, and Support Mechanisms; and Fidelity and Evaluation, teams begin the process of completing the SAND: Self-Assessment for North Dakota. This assessment walks teams through the essential component domains and together they must come to a consensus to score themselves to create their starting point. Teams end this session by having set their desired state and their current state and can begin the next phase.

2020-2021 Building Your System includes 15 teams (108 individuals) who have embarked on this journey and will continue on to Developing Academic Pathways in December!

  • Central Cass HS
  • Dunseith K-12
  • Four Winds HS
  • Glen Ullin K-12
  • Larimore K-12
  • Mandan Custer Elementary
  • Midway K-12
  • Minnewaukan HS
  • Mott Regent K-12
  • Napolean K-12
  • Nesson - Ray Public K-12
  • Parshall HS
  • Richland K-12
  • Turtle Mtn Community HS
  • Divide County K-12

Participant feedback from 2019-2020 Cohort:

  • Opened up the conversations about what we use and where we have the opportunity to grow.
  • We realized we need tiered responses to staff buy-in and instruction.
  • The NDMTSS Team Conversation/Planning Guidance Document and the SAND Assessment will be very beneficial for assessing our current strengths and weaknesses.
  • We already had a good idea of where we stood but this helped us to recognize the key areas and where to start.
  • We have components built into our district however, after this training we understand how to put these parts together to better serve our students.
  • It was fantastic to be able to work with the team to determine what we have, and what we still need in order to implement this into our high school.

Developing Pathways for Academics – Exploration/Installation (Assure resources & Develop supports)

Once the teams listed above have completed their SAND, they move towards developing academic pathways and using the NDMTSS Essential Components to solve problems at their school, classroom, and student levels. Consultant Wayne Callender will translate current education research practice to help teams maximize their resources and outcomes for ALL students.

Teams are tasked to work together to:

  1. Identify current gaps in student outcomes based on grade-level data;
  2. Evaluate appropriate pathways for students to increase academic achievement; and
  3. Develop strategies for solving problems at increasingly larger levels.

Wayne will use examples of data systems for universal screening and progress monitoring as well as specific interventions and curricula to address problems at a systems level.

For the 2020-2021 school year, this course begins in December and is broken down into six, 4-hour sessions over the course of six months. Teams will also schedule site visits to be held virtually after all sessions are complete – these visits are site-specific for dedicated time with Wayne Callender.

Participant feedback from 2019-2020 Cohort:

  • I loved how Wayne expressed how special ed is not the drop off box for those who aren't learning at the same speed/levels as their peers. I found the black and whiteness of the pathways to be most beneficial. As a special educator, I have always used these pathways for students who qualify, but I LOVE LOVE the idea of incorporating this with ALL students - Our school needs to allow the pathway to help us work smarter than harder.
  • I found it helpful to see the chart of pathways. It helps to visualize how every child in the building should belong to one of the groups and receive extra intervention at their level to help each student improve academically.


Evaluating Your System – Initial Implementation (Initiate practice & Use data to improve supports)

When teams have their academic pathways developed and are ready to implement, they move into the next year with a plan, but we need to start putting the plan into practice and focus on fidelity and evaluation. This next course involves the development of data teams and processes to use data to improve supports.

Via data collection and disaggregation, data-driven decision making, and problem-solving teams will develop monitoring processes to determine if the system is having a positive impact on student learning. Wayne Callender continues to lead teams through this process while also providing opportunities for collaboration and observing MTSS in action.

This course follows the same model as Developing Academic Pathways and has six half-day sessions over the course of 6 months. At the completion of the course, teams will have evaluated research-based interventions; determined the effectiveness of Placement Pathways; and began the process of assisting teachers in analyzing data for trends in student growth or stagnancy.

The 2020-2021 school teams are those that completed Developing Academic Pathways in the 2019-2020 school year and include 11 teams (74 individuals):

  • Edgeley K-12
  • Emerado K-8
  • Fort Yates Secondary
  • Hankinson K-12
  • Milnor Elementary
  • Nedrose K-12
  • Northern Cass Secondary
  • Kindred Elementary
  • Eight Mile Trenton Elementary
  • Williston High School
  • Williston Middle School 

Data Review Days – Full Implementation/Sustainability (Practice is consistent with positive outcomes)

Teams who have Academic Pathways implemented in their school/district have developed data processes and evaluations to ensure fidelity… so what’s next? Now, it’s time to monitor and problem-solve using student data to continually refine the system. Teams must have completed Pathways and Evaluating Your System courses and have established reading and/or math pathways and are implementing the MTSS processes at the school/district level.

This facilitated day with Wayne Callender and NDMTSS Coaches provides the team time to look closely at their most current benchmark data to determine the overall effectiveness of their MTSS process. This time is dedicated to helping teams get their questions answered, receive clarity on how to enhance their system, and ideally walk away with an enhanced understanding of how to use their data to guide and strengthen their process to ensure ALL students succeed.

Data Review Days are currently on hold for 2020-2021.


Additional Supports – Sustainability

Throughout the Academic Course Strand there are supports to assist teams along the way including the following:

  • District Capacity Assessment (DCA) - Districts assess capacity to identify what parts of their system are already in place, what needs to be improved, and what still needs to be done.
  • Barrier Busting (Implementation Structured Support Days) – Provides leadership teams the time to revisit the work they’ve engaged in, assess current reality and identify obstacles for improvement, and receive assistance with next steps from consultants and other schools.
  • Coaching Calls – 
  • Direct Instruction Training – Reading Mastery, Corrective Reading, Corrective Math, Connecting Math Concepts
  • Intensifying Instruction – For classroom teachers and instructional coaches who understand the need to match instruction to student need and are willing to revise their instructional approach to ensure that it happens. Provides evidence-based instructional designs to accelerate students’ rate of learning and addresses the following features of instruction: More explicit; More Systematic; More Modeling; More Opportunities to Respond; More Feedback; More Judicious Review.
  • Fidelity Walkthroughs 
  • Leadership 

Although these courses are currently running and there isn’t the ability to jump on board at this time, we’re hoping that this provides you a better visualization and timeline to understand what the commitment looks like to make systemic changes with NDMTSS. If you would like to talk with one of our NDMTSS Coordinators for more information on the Academic side, please reach out to Cheryl Hoggarth,, on the Eastern side of the state or Kayla Durkin,, on the Western side of the state.

Additional information, resources, and training information at

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