Strengthen Your MTSS and PBIS Frameworks With SEL

Social and emotional learning (SEL) can go beyond supporting interventions and instruction — social and emotional data also can be a powerful tool for gaining insight into students’ specific needs and guiding decision-making.

Data is the pivotal pathway to selecting student services and interventions and moving students along the continuum of tiered supports. SEL data provides critical insight that academic benchmarks, test scores, and other common metrics often can’t provide. This data enables educators to discover the root cause of the problem — the specific reasons why a student is struggling academically or exhibiting negative behaviors.

Below are strategies for incorporating SEL into your MTSS and PBIS frameworks to better address and support students’ needs and improve academic outcomes.

School-Wide Assessment

Central to an MTSS framework is the need for schools to support all students. Research ( consistently shows that all students can benefit from SEL instruction. A universal SEL assessment can help educators identify areas within the school that need improvement, such as a culture of bullying or chronic stress levels.

Additionally, research shows that collecting SEL data at the Tier I level is critical because even high-achieving students can have low social and emotional skills, putting them at-risk for academic failure down the road. SEL data can help educators identify students with low resilience and provide supports before they go off track. The DESSA-mini is an optimal universal assessment because it measures the social and emotional skills critical to student success — and takes less than one minute to complete per student.

Targeted Interventions

Besides illustrating school-wide areas that need improvement, universal SEL assessments identify individual students who need additional supports and instruction. Students flagged as at-risk should receive the full DESSA, which provides deeper insight into students’ strengths and areas where improvement is needed.

Educators can use this data to target Tier II supports, such as cognitive behavior therapy, check-in/check-out, and small group work. For example: Students who are flagged for poor relationship skills can join a friendship group; students with toxic stress levels can practice mindfulness; and an anger coping group can teach students how to manage aggression.

Intense Individual Supports

A subset of the students who receive the full DESSA will need intensive, one-on-one supports and interventions. Tier III students typically require the most time, resources, and attention. Like with Tier II, SEL data can support these students by identifying the need for small group work. It also can be incorporated into students’ individualized education plans (IEPs) and help facilitate collaboration between parents, counselors, and social workers. In addition, educators can use SEL data in a strengths-based approach by leveraging stronger areas to strengthen weaker areas.

There are many ways SEL data supports MTSS and PBIS frameworks. Perhaps most importantly, SEL data provides educators with a roadmap for what supports to offer. By identifying the root issues preventing students’ success, schools can more efficiently and effectively target resources and supports to meet every student’s needs.

To learn more about the DESSA and how it fits into an MTSS framework, contact our SEL advisors today by filling out the form below.