IXL and MTSS: Supporting the Needs of All Students

Richardson Independent School District in Richardson, Dallas, and Garland, Texas

Richardson Independent School District (RISD) implemented a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) model across their 54 school buildings to ensure that every student has the support they need to succeed in school and beyond. They turned to IXL to align data and support across all of their campuses and provide the tailored instruction students need to maximize growth.

The Challenge: Finding a Common Language and Data to Support MTSS

As a large district with more than 39,000 students, providing systematic supports for all students is a top priority. RISD covers North Dallas, Richardson, and Garland, Texas, and has students from a diverse range of backgrounds who speak more than 70 languages.

Laurel Dickson, the Director of MTSS, was tasked with the creation and implementation of a coordinated MTSS program across the district. She works closely with Amber Lambert, the Director of Intervention and Enrichment, to put programs in place that meet the needs of all students. Laurel explains, “One of our challenges in a big district is maintaining continuity across our learning communities. Having a common language and common data across all of our campuses and feeder patterns is critical. We need to be talking about challenges and goals in the same way in order to move together toward a common vision.”

In the past, they had many different assessment, instructional, and intervention programs in place at different schools. This made it difficult to compare data and evaluate program efficacy and learning needs between schools. Laurel says, “When there are multiple platforms doing similar tasks, the data you get is different—you’re comparing apples and oranges. You have to do a lot of work on the back end to get any kind of meaningful data comparison.” In 2019, when they decided to align support and data collection across all of their schools, they chose IXL Math to support instruction for K-10. During the spring of 2020, the district added IXL reading when schools moved to at home learning for the remainder of the year. The addition of IXL Reading proved to be very beneficial for both students and educators.

Tailoring Instruction Within an MTSS Model

The MTSS framework has three tiers: All students receive high-quality classroom instruction (Tier 1), students who need extra support participate in targeted small-group intervention (Tier 2), and a small subset of these students receives intensive, individualized one-on-one support (Tier 3). IXL helps teachers and intervention specialists unify instruction and support across all three tiers. Laurel says, “We have implemented IXL at every campus and set common expectations for usage and data analysis. We all meet and talk about the data and set goals together.”

All students use the IXL Real-Time Diagnostic to set baseline data and monitor growth throughout the school year. The diagnostic provides the data that teachers and intervention specialists need to make instructional decisions and identify students in need of additional support or enrichment.

Teachers may use IXL as part of Tier 1 instruction to introduce or reinforce a lesson and provide opportunities for students to practice the skills they are working on in class. The elementary schools all have an intervention period built in for Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction when students work at their own level in IXL. Teachers can work with individual students and small groups during this time, knowing that all students are receiving targeted practice and instruction. Students may be working on missing skills from prior grades, continuing practice on grade-level skills, or getting additional challenge with skills from higher grades. If they move to a different school, their data and their tailored instruction go with them. Amber says, “With the mobility we see in our district, having everyone on the same platform really helps. Students can leave one campus and go to a new one and pick right up where they left off with their skills practice and their data.”

Students spend about 15 minutes each week updating the diagnostic so that skill recommendations are always current. Laurel says, “Students really like that IXL is tailored to their needs, and not just a blanket 30 minutes with everyone doing the same thing. It’s just the right amount of challenge, so they’re not bored, and they’re not frustrated. And they can take as much or as little time as they need to demonstrate mastery of a skill.”

A Model for Success at Richardson ISD

Here’s how teachers and administrators are using IXL across Richardson ISD:

  • IXL Math and IXL English Language Arts are used by all students in grades K-10.
  • Students complete the IXL Real-Time Diagnostic at the beginning of the school year. They spend a few minutes each week keeping the diagnostic current. 
  • Teachers may use IXL to introduce or reinforce a lesson during Tier 1 instruction. Students can spend as much or as little time as they need practicing assigned skills.
  • Most students use IXL during an intervention and enrichment period. Students can work on their personalized action plans in IXL while teachers provide targeted small-group or individualized intervention to other students.
  • IXL supports both students needing intervention and those needing additional enrichment. All students can continue to grow, whether they are working below, on, or ahead of grade level.
  • Teachers use the reports in IXL Analytics to plan instruction and identify students in need of Tier 2 or 3 support. The data allows teachers and intervention specialists to work together on a unified learning plan for all three tiers of instruction.
  • IXL is also used to facilitate data-driven team discussions and cross-campus collaboration.

A copy of the full case study is available for download here.

To try out IXL in your classroom, visit www.ixl.com/membership/teachers/trial for a free 30-day trial!