MTSS Individual Student Team



Individual Student Team

The Individual Student Team initially consists of the teacher, student, and family or caregivers of the student.  Individual Student Teams sometimes get overlooked when considering the universal teaming structure of a school's MTSS framework, when in reality it is the team that may hold the most leverage in student success in school - as such, it is extremely important that efforts to establish this team from the start should be carefully considered.

When a student presents with challenges in the classroom or school setting that need to be addressed in a more intensified manner, additional people can be added to the team to assist in the instruction and intervention the student needs.  These intensified teams are sometimes known as a 504 team or an IEP team.  Together, the individuals on the team, including the student whenever possible, establish partnerships and a plan for shared responsibility designed to assist in the success of the student.

Like other MTSS teams, the individual student team should have common activities and practices in place.  Having these practices in place serves a number of purposes.

1.  Consistency - When a school elects to adopt a common structure for their individual student team, greater consistency can be achieved.  For example, if another person in the building must step into the team for any length of time, the person filling in will already be aware of the system; they will know where to find information if needed, and how to assist in the moment a student needs it. 

2. Familiarity - When families with multiple children are a part of the school community over time, it can be difficult for parents to keep track of all of the different ways each teacher conducts school business.  This can cause frustration and it can make partnering with families more difficult.  In addition, families with experience with the schools framework can help assist other families that are new to the community.

3. Sustainability - Many practices and initiatives fall victim to failure for the simple reason that they are simply not set up to be sustainable.  When administration, teachers, or education technicians enter and leave the school, natural weaknesses occur in the systems that were only supported or driven by a few individuals - if one of those individuals was a primary driver of the system it becomes even more of a challenge.  Also, when families move between schools within a district, or leave the district only to return some time later, valuable time can be saved when common activities and practices that become part of the school culture help these systems to be more sustainable over time and change.

4. Time to Teach - Always a highly requested commodity in education, time is often the number one request when asked what teachers need.  Adopting a common practice for individual student teaming can free up some of that precious instructional time and redirect it to the things that are the most important: academic, behavioral, and social-emotional growth of students.


Individual Student Teams

Examples of Individual Student Teams.  Your school may have other practices in place that are not listed here.


Intensity Universal More Intensified Most Intensified
What it looks like

Teachers, student, family and caregivers, others

Teachers, student, family and caregivers

     Others: School counselors, school social workers, community agency liaisons (not always applicable), others

Teachers, student, family and caregivers, school counselors and or school social workers, community agency liaisons (not always applicable)

      Others: case managers, administrators, medical or psychological professionals, others

Communication between home and school (email, phone, paper)

Parent/Teacher conferences

Advisory practices

Showcases or celebrations

Small groups such as social groups, lunch groups, etc.

CICO practices

Regular/formal communication between home and school (often in the form of short meetings or regular phone/video call)

Development of formal plans in additional to universal and intensified supports such as 504 plans, targeted behavior or learning plans, IEP team.




Theory into Action



Examine: The first part of moving from theory to action is to conduct an audit, or an exploration phase, of your current and past practices and to develop a vision of what you would like to see happening in the future. Begin by assessing the current state of practice(s), identify if there is a need to address, identify the potential barriers to that need/challenge, and define a reasonable goal.

Organization: Also known as the installation phase, once your exploration is complete it is time to organize your materials and make an initial plan for addressing the need/challenge.  Sometimes called "resource mapping," this is this stage where you evaluate all of the available resources you have that can help you to work toward your vision.  Resources include personnel, programs, time and space, etc.  Organize these materials into a matrix for ease of identifying resources you have, resources you need to acquire, resources you no longer want to use, and even examples of systems other schools are using with success. Keeping your vision in mind and students at the forefront, revisit your goal and formulate an action plan/timeline for moving toward that goal.

Helpful Resources


There are a variety of resources available to assist teams with navigating the implementation phases.  Here are a few to get you started.  If you need further assistance you may want to check out the technical assistance page.  There you will find additional resources, or you can reach out for additional consultation and coaching.

I'd like to learn more information about

SISEP Implementation Hub

Individual Student Teams

Downloadable resources

Implementation team template

Assess the Challenge tool

Action Plan tool

Customization:  Also known as the initial implementation phase, during customization a handful of dedicated individuals begin to implement the new or revised practice with fidelity.  The implementation team will establish a plan for monitoring this initial implementation including collecting data and evidence, observation, survey, and a regular meeting schedule to check and monitor the practice.  This phase continues until the practice is being implemented successfully, and has been refined to ensure that the practice is moving toward the desired vision.

Maintenance:  Also known as the full implementation phase, maintenance is the stage where the practice is introduced to the larger community.  Individuals that have been utilizing the practice during the customization phase act as mentors and cheerleaders to those just beginning the practice.  The practice will be monitored regularly and consistently for fidelity.  If at any point fidelity of the practice falls, or the practice is no longer working, the practice stops, and teams return to a previous phase to reassess and readjust as needed.

1. How does my school currently view individual student teams?
2. Does my school have a universal policy for individual student teams?
3. What is working well regarding individual student teams?
4. What would I change regarding individual student teams?


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