What is MTSS?
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) involves Quality Core Instruction, assessment, and intervention to ensure that ALL students receive the level of support they need to be successful. The Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a school-wide, data driven, proactive framework for improving both learning and behavioral outcomes for all students. It utilizes evidenced based practices and effective systems to improve core instruction and intervention. It gives students immediate access to academic and behavioral support through the combination of Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). Multi-Tiered System of Supports focuses on meeting the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of each student.
The multi-tiered framework organizes resources, processes, and supports to ensure student success. The three-tiered system increases the focus and intensity of support and aligns with identified levels of student need to provide them differentiated services. It is a “response to intervention” approach with an additional focus on behavior, which facilitates the determination of students who should be considered for Special Services. Response to Intervention (RtI) is a component of MTSS that provides the framework and structure for schools to provide students in need of additional support research-based, data-informed intervention. The process identifies students with academic or behavioral needs, provides specific and targeted interventions, and monitors student’s progress to their goals.
The essential components of MTSS include:
• A school-wide instructional and behavioral system with a proactive and preventive focus on student success
• Data-based decision using the problem-solving model
• Universal screenings which identify students who may be at risk for poor learning outcomes
• Data analyzation that identifies students who are struggling academically and/or behaviorally
• Progress monitoring that helps educators guide both instruction and intervention
• Collaboration and communication between students, families, teachers, and administrators to ensure that every student receives the best possible instruction
- It will make all students more successful in school and on track for graduation, while preparing them to be college or career ready. MTSS has been implemented and proven effective in districts across the country. An independent study released in January, for example, found that “Kansas MTSS is substantially contributing to improved student outcomes at the local level, as well as benefitting teachers, improving instruction, and supporting better school functioning.”
How does MTSS work?
MTSS has three levels, or tiers, of instruction and support, all aimed at giving teachers a streamlined way to provide the best instruction to all students.
- Tier I includes the instruction and support provided to all children.
- Tier II serves students needing more help. Extra instruction and support often are provided to these children in small groups.
- Tier III is for children who need intense support in order to succeed. Extra instruction and support are provided, often in even smaller groups or one-on-one.
MTSS provides guidelines to more quickly identify both challenges and solutions. Timely data – including test scores, suspension rates, attendance and more – are used to help problem solve and identify the levels of supports needed for students.
Here’s an example:
Say the math proficiency of a group of fifth graders has declined compared to prior years. Teams of teachers would discuss instruction, curriculum and the learning environment. They may find that some teachers are not using the most effective teaching practices (instruction), that math materials aren’t assigned to students based on their current skill level (curriculum) and that absenteeism is high during first period (learning environment). That same team brainstorms and implements solutions, such as sharing better classroom strategies among teachers, demonstrating how to better differentiate reading assignments, and working with parents and transportation officials to reduce morning. Going forward, the team looks at data to find out if their solutions worked and makes changes as needed.
How is MTSS different than current practice?
Of course, this kind of evaluation and intervention already is taking place. School Improvement Teams are groups of teachers and school leaders who look at schoolwide trends and work to implement solutions. Professional Learning Teams are smaller groups, usually organized by grade-level or subject area, who work on the needs of individual students or groups of students, sometimes with the help of social workers, counselors, ESL teachers, etc. MTSS connects all efforts of the school to ensure each student is successful. Teachers and administrators speak a common language and use a data–driven problem–solving process to address areas of need.
What does MTSS mean for me and my child?
One of the keys to the success of MTSS is developing strategies that are effective for a particular student. Parents are an essential part of that equation. You know your child’s interests and strengths and also know interventions tried in the past, those that worked and those that didn’t. MTSS encourages teachers and parents to effectively communicate, collaborate, and problem solve using data to best meet the needs of your child.