The Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators Board of Directors has selected the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System to receive the 2020 SSTAGE Rising STAR Award at the system level.
The SSTAGE Site Team found that the district's Multi-tiered System of Supports/Response to Interventions – a tiered system of supports that integrates assessment and intervention within a school-wide, multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and reduce behavioral problems – were built on solid systems with outstanding characteristics of effective instruction and support.
In making this decision, the SSTAGE Board of Directors considered the following framework, process, and procedures which exhibited characteristics of effective Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)/Response to Intervention (RtI) practices:
- Effective systematic problem-solving process at each tier
- Coordinated system of instructional/behavioral supports/resources
- Coordinated system of assessment and progress monitoring
- Job-embedded professional learning and ongoing teacher supports
- A systematic plan for parent/family communication and involvement
The SSTAGE Site Team identified several key factors as evidenced by the following commendations:
- Excellent district support for professional learning and human resources—intervention coaches, behavior interventionists, success coaches, Check & Connect coaches
- The Student Affairs Support Service Center (SASSC) offers an excellent alternative to suspension for students at all levels suspended 1-10 days
- District and building level staff seem to be knowledgeable and have clearly defined roles as related to MTSS/RtI processes
- Building level leadership and support was evident in each site visited
- High school teams work collaboratively to develop literacy lessons
- High school staff as mentors
- Clear focus on the needs of the whole student—HS focus on knowing students by name and by need—an established 55-minute instructional focus on Wednesdays (modified block scheduling)
- Universal screening is in place and completed three times a year. The assessment process is carried out to identify academic needs for supplemental instruction and enrichment.
- Holding a monthly data team meeting is a consistent and necessary process for monitoring student progress
- Making the adjustments as needed to interventions/supports as well as for informing instruction
- Meeting every 4-weeks with parents of students with academic/behavioral concerns
- There is an ongoing priority on the MTSS/RtI process. District/ School leadership has developed a structure for supporting teachers through Professional Learning Communities, supporting students through a MTSS/RTI framework
- The positive culture of the district/school is impossible to miss, and it is reflected by the leadership, staff, and students. The high energy and involvement of the school teams, as well as that of the district level coaches, sets the tone for the participation of teachers, staff, students, and parents.
- Culture and climate are a strength as teams focus on building relationships and are encouraged to be reflective and to think outside the box to meet the needs of students
- The non-traditional Twilight program for students needing to repair/recover or earn credits necessary for graduation
Evaluators say the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System has demonstrated excellence in the implementation of a comprehensive MTSS/RtI program as part of its district improvement process and has achieved notable results. They say the administration and leadership team's enthusiasm, team collaboration, and dedication will be an inspiration to educational leaders and teachers across the state of Georgia.
A solid Tier 1 foundation is essential for building MTSS/RtI practices. Evaluators say the district has as well addressed strong Tier 2 and Tier 3 implementation. The benefit of a strong and effective implementation of MTSS/RtI builds a growth curve which yields a close in achievement gaps and is evidenced in a longitudinal growth curve which evaluators anticipate will be evidenced in the years to come due to the district's strong practices. The Rising STAR award takes into account what the district has accomplished thus far, and it acknowledges that SCCPSS is poised to demonstrate a growth dynamic which will yield results equal to or greater than state growth data in the future.
As part of the award, district staff have been invited to present at the 2021 Promising Practices Conference in Athens on January 13, 2021 where they will also be recognized for the district's accomplishments.