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Wisconsin RtI Center: Implementation in Rural Schools

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Two elementary schools in Wisconsin lean into their established multi-level systems of supports, ensuring students receive the assistance they need when they need it.

At Crandon Elementary School, located in northern Wisconsin, tremendous effort has gone into creating and maintaining a cohesive multi-level system of support. School Counselor Becca Gerow remembers the beginning of their journey. It went from a few people trying to sustain a system to using different teams that work well together.

Crandon Elementary defined non-negotiable expectations for behavior, mathematics, and English language arts. The staff identified best practices, using them to create flow charts that guide next steps for students who need additional support to meet learning targets. This strengthening of their universal instruction led to increased proficiency in mathematics as measured by the Forward Exam. In 2016-2017, 28% of students were proficient or advanced in mathematics. In 2018-19, that had risen to 33.5%.

Grantsburg Elementary School, a small, rural grade school in the northwest, is also developing its multi-level system of support. Principal Elizabeth Olson and her staff want to make sure that they continue to deliver the highest quality education services. For them, the best way to do this is to stay focused on implementing, reflecting, and adjusting. Reading specialist Patricia Bergman, agrees. “We’ve never been complacent. There’s always something we know that we can improve,” she said.

Grantsburg’s focus on continuous improvement naturally led to a robust universal level of support. The team developed consistent, clear expectations ensuring staff understood the process. They continually drive to increase the number of students who meet standards. Recently, the target was oral reading fluency skills for second-grade students. Working collaboratively, they implemented an evidence-based intervention for students who needed support beyond the universal level. After one trimester of work, 15% of students in this group were proficient in oral reading. This number rose sharply by the end of the second trimester to 62%, increasing the likelihood of reading success at the universal level.

Grantsburg Elementary and Crandon Elementary are implementing equitable, multi-level systems of supports, a framework that helps districts and schools:

  • Integrate and organize supports for learners, including developmental, academic, behavioral, social, and emotional supports

  • Provide equitable services, practices, and resources to every learner

  • Responsively adjust the intensity and nature of supports to match learner needs based on data

For more information, including “snapshot” videos, visit:

Grantsburg Elementary: Read | Watch

Crandon Elementary: Read | Watch

Subscriber Submission: DPI Multilevel Systems of Supports Education Consultant, Melanie Sickinger