To help facilitate and inform implementation of a Problem Solving and Response to Intervention (PS/RtI) model in the state, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and the University of South Florida (USF) partnered to create the Florida PS/RtI Project in 2006. The original mission of the Project, a collaborative effort between the FDOE and the University of South Florida, was to (1) provide training, technical assistance, and support across the state on the PS/RtI model, and (2) systematically evaluate the impact of PS/RtI implementation in a limited number of demonstration sites.
The statewide training component of the Project was intended to provide school-based teams with the knowledge and skills needed to implement the PS/RtI model. The demonstration site component of the Project, on the other hand, was intended to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of implementing the PS/RtI model on schools, educators, and students. From 2007 to 2010, the demonstration site component was implemented in 34 pilot schools in seven demonstration school districts across the state. Program evaluation efforts in those 34 pilot schools were aimed at informing the statewide scale-up of PS/RtI implementation in Florida. Pilot schools received 13 days of training across the three years as well as ongoing technical assistance and support from PS/RtI coaches and Project staff. Systematic data collection to evaluate PS/RtI implementation also occurred for more information on the three years of professional development and support provided by the Project.
Recently, the mission of the Project has evolved to focus on building Florida’s school district capacity to implement a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). MTSS is a term that has emerged in recent years toProject Mission describe a comprehensive, integrated approach to addressing the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs of students. Although MTSS represents a change in terminology, Projects staff consider MTSS and PS/RtI to represent different terms for the same model of service delivery. The critical elements of multi-tiered instruction and intervention and the use of data-based problem solving to inform decision-making are the same. What has changed is the level of support for an MTSS at the national and state levels (see the FDOE’s MTSS website for more information on the support for MTSS implementation in the State of Florida), requiring the Project’s mission to evolve to continue to meet the needs of districts and schools.
Project staff work to build the capacity of school districts to implement MTSS through the five initiatives described below.
1. Statewide Professional Development and Support for MTSS Implementation
One of the main goals of the Project is to provide professional development and support to schools and districts implementing an MTSS. This initiative is primarily supported by three Regional Coordinators (RCs) and three Regional Facilitators (RFs). The RCs and RFs provide support to districts through training, technical assistance, and support. RCs and RFs provide needs-based regional and district technical assistance and support. Professional development models and materials are also created to support MTSS implementation across the state.
2. Secondary School MTSS Implementation
This initiative focuses on the implementation of data-based problem solving within an MTSS at the secondary level. Project staff who support this initiative have been responsible for training and technical assistance to increase MTSS implementation at the secondary level. Data-based problem solving, the development and delivery of evidence-based instruction/intervention within the context of an MTSS, and the use of Early Warning Systems at the district and secondary levels have been supported by this initiative.
3. Differentiated Accountability (DA) Support for MTSS
The DA Model was adopted by the FDOE to improve student performance in the State’s most struggling schools. Differentiated Accountability MTSS Specialists support the work of the State DA teams. The focus of the MTSS Specialists’ work is to provide training, technical assistance, and evaluation assistance to ensure that data-based problem solving within a multi-tiered system is a critical component of the school improvement efforts in targeted schools. MTSS Specialists provide internal professional development to their regional teams on MTSS and collaborate with other content (e.g., reading, math) specialists to improve the performance of schools in need of improvement.
4. Technology to Support Improved Outcomes For All Students
The Technology and Learning Connections team focuses on establishing and maintaining five regional technology support centers throughout the state. The team also focuses on ensuring that students with disabilities have the assistive technology and materials they need to support their learning and performance. The integration of technology and universal learning design principles to support statewide MTSS implementation is a primary focus of this initiative as well.
5. Integrated MTSS Model for Academic and Behavior Supports
This initiative focuses on developing and supporting the statewide implementation of an integrated MTSS model of academic and behavior supports in Florida. The Project collaborates with the Florida PBS: MTSS Project to facilitate the development and implementation of an integrated MTSS model. Together, the two projects have developed and are piloting the District Action Planning and Problem Solving (DAPPS) process to collaboratively support districts in implementing an MTSS. The two projects also continue to develop relationships with and gather information from key stakeholders to plan for systematic support of statewide implementation of an integrated MTSS.
Florida’s Problem Solving/Response to Intervention (PS/RtI) Project
The collaborative vision of the Department and statewide projects, Student Support Services Project, Problem Solving/Response to Intervention Project (PS/RtI) and Florida's Positive Behavior Support Project (FPBS), supporting the implementation of Florida