The commitment to ensuring a high quality, culturally and linguistically responsive and equitable education for all students is reflected in the guiding principles of Nova Scotia’s Inclusive Education Policy and in the implementation of MTSS .
MTSS is an integrated school-wide approach (universal, focused, intensive) which provides a structure for effective instruction, assessment, and support for all students. It requires the collaboration and coordinated efforts of students, teachers, support staff, educational leaders, families, guardians, parents and community partners in providing appropriate programs, settings, supports, and services.
A Multi-Tiered System of Supports recognizes the inherent worth of all students and empowers parents. It is supported by shared leadership and effective ongoing professional learning. It is inclusive of all students in our classrooms, schools, and communities.
Our model of inclusive education is a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) that is specific to the Nova Scotia context and addresses students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioural needs in an integrated way. The three tiers form a flexible, interconnected continuum of academic, behavioural, and social-emotional-health supports at three levels.
While the model addresses the needs of those identified as having exceptionalities, it is not a model for what has typically been thought of as special education. It is a unified model of inclusive public education that responds to all student needs and aligns multiple changes at all levels of the public school system toward one common goal: increased student success.
This model is student-centred and provides assessment, instruction, and intervention at three different levels, or tiers: classroom, small group, and individual. The vast majority of students will experience school success in the classroom through the core curriculum and core instruction. Some students require additional educational programs, services, interventions, and settings at various points in their schooling to meet their unique strengths and needs.
The guiding principles of Nova Scotia’s Inclusive Education Policy are reflected in the implementation of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). A multi-tiered system of supports is a unified framework that supports the success of all students with a focus on well-being and achievement. Within this framework, the collaboration of learners, teachers, families, and internal and externals supports are essential to providing the right program, setting, support, and services.
This multi-tiered system of supports is integrated and addresses students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional health needs in a coordinated way. The focus of MTSS is on providing high-quality instruction and interventions that are tailored to individual student strengths and needs at increasing levels of intensity. Emphasis is also placed on prevention, early identification and intervention for learning needs as soon as they appear.
- student-centered — focuses on the best interest of every student
- needs-based — responsive to the needs and strengths of every student
- evidence-based — grounded in current research
- results-focused — aimed at positive results for all students
- aligned — integrates change initiatives in public education
- blended — combines all educational programs, services, and settings into one unified system
- adaptable — designed for elementary, middle school/junior high, and high school settings
- prevention-oriented — focuses on early detection and intervention
- data-informed — decision making based on frequent assessment of student progress
- culturally responsive — reflective of and responsive to student diversity
- collaborative — offers a team approach to problem solving and program planning regarding students’ educational programs that includes parents as full partners
- collegial — facilitates shared professional development, planning, and responsibility for students’ educational programming among classroom and specialist teachers
- effective — uses proven practices that support teaching, learning, and student success
- equitable — provides all students with access to the supports they need to be successful
- efficient — focuses on the wise use of public funds, resources, and infrastructure
Some students have been identified as having special needs. Others, however, have not been identified as having special needs, but are still faced with challenges at school, for a variety of reasons: family issues, language barrier, health condition, poverty, regional disparities, social inequalities, etc. Consequently, an inclusive learning community should “provide all students with multiple tiers of support, including varied assessments, instruction, interventions, and learning spaces that are tailored to individual student strengths and needs” (Students First, p. 5).
The guiding principles of Nova Scotia’s Inclusive Education Policy are reflected in the implementation of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). A multi-tiered system of supports is a unified framework that supports the success of all students with a focus on well-being and achievement. Within this framework, the collaboration of learners, teachers, families, and internal and external supports are essential to providing the right program, setting, support, and services.