Tips from teachers: How IXL supports MTSS

Dianna Schonfield is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with more than a decade of educational experience in the classroom.

A Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model is designed to address the needs of all students. It looks like this:

  • Tier 1: Every student receives high-quality classroom instruction 
  • Tier 2: Students who need extra support participate in targeted small-group intervention
  • Tier 3: A small subset of these students receives intensive and individualized one-on-one support

MTSS aligns the entire system of supports and resources, and requires consistent data-driven decision making. Having a single tool that meets every one of these requirements is a game changer, and IXL does it all! Here’s how:

IXL Diagnostic

Start by having your students take the IXL Real-Time Diagnostic so that you understand both exactly what students know and precisely what to do to help them improve. In about 45 minutes per subject, the diagnostic pinpoints students’ grade-level proficiency in math and language arts, provides valuable insights for students across all tiers, and offers next steps for growth.

Once students have completed the initial diagnostic, have them spend 10 to 15 minutes in the Diagnostic arena each week to make sure student levels and recommendations stay up to date.

For schools that don’t have the time available for all students to take the Real-Time Diagnostic, IXL also has a universal screener that identifies at-risk students in just 20 minutes. Any students it flags for intervention could then take the diagnostic to get clearer data on their needs.

Diagnostic Action Plan

Based on the diagnostic, IXL creates a personalized action plan for each student. By working on these recommended skills, students can start closing gaps and making progress immediately. Teachers can allocate weekly IXL action plan time, knowing that students who are below, on, and above grade level will all be working on skills that are necessary for them to grow. This is particularly powerful for students that need to master skills from previous grades. Having this dedicated, personalized work time ensures that students in all tiers are ready for grade-level material and beyond.

Image of IXL Diagnostic Action Plan

Small group intervention

While students are working on their individual action plans, teachers can pull small groups for intervention. IXL’s Diagnostic Strand Analysis makes this time even more targeted and effective than it normally would be.

Students with similar levels are grouped together, and it shows the most common skill recommendations for each group. You can even click on the name of a skill to see example questions that you can use during guided practice. That means that IXL does all of the heavy lifting for you! You know who to work with, on what concept, and how.

Image of IXL Diagnostic Strand Analysis report

The Diagnostic Strand Analysis report can also help teachers determine how much differentiation is needed when planning specific units or lessons. For example, if you notice that many students need to work on the same concept, you might save that skill for a whole-group lesson at another time. You could even use IXL Group Jams to work on these suggested skills together.

Progress monitoring

Data-driven decisions are the backbone of any classroom, and certainly the cornerstone of MTSS.

Administrators have access to the Diagnostic Levels and Progress & Growth reports to help track student learning gains throughout the year. These reports show students’ current diagnostic levels and average monthly growth, so administrators can identify teachers or grade levels with incomplete diagnostic results. Then, they can encourage those students to revisit the Diagnostic arena.

Image of IXL Diagnostic Levels Report

They can also use these reports to identify any grade levels with low or high growth to either encourage teachers to use the data to inform instruction, or to celebrate their work and establish mentor teachers to support others.

Teachers can access similar information in their Diagnostic Overview and teacher-level Progress & Growth reports. The visuals in the Diagnostic Overview provide a quick and easy way to see which students are up-to-date and which students need to go back into the Diagnostic arena to answer more questions. The data also allows teachers and intervention specialists to work together on a unified plan for all three tiers of instruction.

With these actionable insights, you can make smarter decisions about how to reach every tier and every student where they are right now.