PORTLAND, Mich. (WILX) - In this edition of Schools Rule, News 10 is highlighting an entire school district whose hands-on approach to student behavior is getting international attention.
The Portland School District has started an overarching student-focused program that’s bringing in big results.
Portland’s district-wide MTSS program assess the needs of students to better get them they help they need to succeed. Their goal is to make all their school buildings interconnected.
“What we’ve found is students will be successful if they have the skills to be successful,” said William Heath, Superintendent of Portland Public Schools.
Through a grant from Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MIBLSI) and Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS), Portland Schools are building intervention strategies to put in place where students may need extra support.
"Our goal is to build relationships with students and families and then from those relationships go all the way down to the student level,” said Superintendent Heath. “So we are looking at district level and then the students, so it has a focus on them and whatever they need, we're going to give it to them."
"This is also an initiative that we're building rapport among buildings and staff,” said Simone Margraf, Fulfilment Instruction and District MTSS Coordinator. “We were a really strong district but what we lacked was the ability to connect all the buildings together. And so with the MTSS framework, with the leadership from the MTSS team, from the MIBLSI team and then new administration coming on board, that really gave us the power of bringing everything together to ensure that we could now connect all of the buildings together.”
That means the primary focus of PBIS right now is student discipline and reading comprehension. The district says behavioral and discipline cases are already declining and student’s reading comprehension is on the rise.
“The results we're on have really shown us that the path we're on is the right path," said Superintendent Heath.
That path, even bringing in a delegation of educators from Singapore to observe the program’s implementation in Portland schools.
“I think for us, it's an opportunity to show my staff that the work that they're doing is being noticed,” said Superintendent Heath. “I mean, this is a lot of work."
MTSS and PBIS are part of a five-year program and Portland Public Schools are currently in year three and they say with the positive results they’ve already seen, they’re excited to see where the next two years take them.