SSTs use a tiered system for determining the type and level of support to be provided to districts designated by the SEA as being in need of improvement, and to other districts (and their schools) at risk of being in need of improvement for some or all groups of students.
The tiered service delivery model (see Figure 1) is built around three levels of support: universal (Tier I), targeted (Tier II), and comprehensive (Tier III). Districts in the comprehensive tier include those designated as intensive or in academic distress commission (ADC) status; those identified as early literacy pilot districts or districts participating in the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG); and/or those districts, ESCs, career centers, or county boards of developmental disabilities (DD) identified through selective review conducted by the ODE-Office for Exceptional Children. Tiers reflect an increase in the intensity and duration of SST services provided, moving from Tier I (low level of support) to Tier III (high level of support). See the accompanying illustration of the type of services provided at each tier. Descriptions and examples are adapted from the Michigan Department of Education.
Characteristics of Technical Assistance (TA) by Tier
Examples of the type of TA provided at each tier follow.
Universal (Tier I) Technical Assistance
Examples include providing webinars and teleconferences; working with ESCs and partner organizations to co-host events; linking to ESCs and partner organizations; disseminating information through web-based and online resources at state and regional conferences or other events, through social media, and through other avenues to support district improvement.
Targeted (Tier II) Technical Assistance
Examples include providing specialized events, virtually and on-site, requiring an ongoing relationship between the TA provider and several recipient districts; periodic webinars that are not one-time, but also do not include follow-up support; facilitating networked improvement communities (NICs) or communities of practice (CoP); providing shorter-term events; facilitating a series of virtual meetings for districts or groups of districts around common areas of need (e.g., E-learning courses, webinars and self-guided, multi-module courses that are more prescribed than what is provided through universal TA); and offering unique, one-time particularized events (summits, action forums, conferences, clinics, etc.) to support district improvement.
Intensive (Tier III) Technical Assistance
Examples include providing longer-term services that have a defined scope and sequence of professional learning with follow-up coaching supports, involve a multi-year commitment, and involve data collection and evaluation. Such services often cross multiple levels of the educational cascade (e.g., district, school, classroom) to address systems and practices (e.g., coaching to build the capacity of district leadership teams to use inclusive instructional and organizational leadership and OIP as the foundation for continuous improvement).