MTSS Grade Level Team



A grade level team is sometimes referred to as a continuous improvement team. Many schools utilize grade level teams that meet regularly to discuss grade level (or sometimes a span of grades) practices, instruction, effectiveness of instruction, student growth, and in some cases team policies, behavior, and areas/needs for improvement.

Grade level teaming can be an extremely effective practice for a number of reasons.  First, grade level teams help to ensure consistency in instruction (academic, behavior, and social) by allowing for all teachers of a particular grade to share and bring successes and challenges to the table.  Another benefit to grade level teams is reduced teacher stress and burnout.  In addition, grade level teams invite the expertise of each individual person on the team to present itself as a resource for addressing challenges, so students can be flexibly grouped to work on emerging skills with a teacher that has capacity and interest in running the small group - the teacher doesn't always have to be the "official" teacher, either.  If Mrs. Smith is the social studies, but has a passion for math, she may be interested on hosting a small math group to help struggling students.  This frees up time for the math teacher to reach other students in other capacities, and demonstrates the shared responsibility for all students across the team.

Like other MTSS teams, grade level teams should work to establish a shared vision for the school year, and state their priorities for achieving that vision.  Along with drawing a vision, teams can set academic, social, or behavioral goals that each of the teachers will work on together.  Visions and goals should be documented, measurable, and referred to at least monthly to ensure progress is being made.  Also, grade level teams serve as the drivers of the tier 1, 2, and sometimes 3 in their class/grade.  As such, establishing a meeting protocol is essential to making the most of the available time.

A few things to consider when establishing grade level teams:

1. Who is at the table? Who is missing? - The grade level team is a powerful way to ensure consistent equity and inclusion in classrooms.  This group of dedicated individuals are the first defense to creating classrooms and team policies that meet the needs of the students they have.  This team asks " who are we teaching, and what do those children need from us?" and then work to be sure each and ever child is supported.

2. Shared Vision: Everyone wants each child to grow in their academics, behavior, and social skills, and setting a shared vision at the start of every school year is a great way to do this.  Why every year?  Because teachers, ed techs, curriculums, challenges come and go.  Creating a new shared vision each year can welcome and integrate new teachers so they feel valued and part of the process.  Another thought to consider when re-writing your shared vision each year is the idea of change.  All humans change and grow - not just students.  Teachers do to.  To keep the same shared vision year after year makes it difficult for that vision to align with the changing world around it.

3. Maximizing Human Capital: Myriad of expertise exists inside your school building.  Maximizing human capital is a creative (and inexpensive!) way to utilize the skills and passions of each educator so that when students present with a challenge, they can be matched to the resources that are available - that includes the people in the building that might be just what that student needs!

4. Consistent Problem-Solving: As a continuous improvement team, it is important to establish a consistent problem-solving practice paired with communication and action planning so everyone knows what to expect, where to go when needs arise, and how to address challenges collectively.  


Grade Level Meetings PK-12




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 grade level team practice(s), determine 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 "personnel mapping," this is this stage where you evaluate all of the available human capital you have that can help you to work toward your vision.  Other resources to organize for the purpose of classroom level teaming are availability of members, time and space, school approved communication methods, and knowledge of how to use these methods of all people on the team, 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 implementation and school level 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

Grade Level Team Structure and Purpose

Know your Why

Plan-Do-Study-Act Problem Solving Protocol

Inclusion expert, Shelley Moore, explains the "7-10 split" of education

Downloadable resources

National Implementation Research Institute: Activity L6.1 - Applying the Plan-Do-Study-Act to your work

Sample classroom level team protocol

Sample classroom level team timeline and agenda

Sample protocol for resource and personnel mapping

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 work with the grade level team to 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 utilize grade level teams?
2. Does my school have a universal policy for grade level team protocols?
3. What is working well that you would like to see continue regarding grade level teams?
4. What would the school like to change regarding how grade level teams are utilized?


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