Data-based decision making is a critical feature of MTSS. Proper implementation requires data to be collected and analyzed at the intermediate school district (ISD), district, school, and student levels.

The Crucial Role of Evaluation

Proper evaluation ensures that MTSS implementation plans are grounded in good decision making. Without evaluation, every action taken by districts and schools would be just a guessing game. MTSS requires evaluation at every level of implementation on a continual basis, including:

  • Installation and capacity-building efforts.
  • Systems and team activities.
  • School-wide practices and targeted student interventions.

Collecting the right data is critical, but simply having data is not enough to guide decision making. District and school staff must understand what the data mean as they analyze it. When teams look at data, they use that information to design improvements that will lead to success for all students.

Student Assessments

Student Assessments

For districts and schools that are implementing MTSS, student assessments may be the linchpin of the entire system. Every team that is constructed and every plan that is developed is all for the purpose of producing positive student outcomes. The data from student assessments is the proof of the MTSS successes and gaps.

Looking at school-wide data from student assessments helps with program evaluation. Schools can see the overall impact of supports. The data can show what areas need to be addressed at the district, school, and classroom levels.

At an individual level, student assessments show the skills and needs of each student. This information is used to help match the right supports with the student.

Four Purposes of Student Assessments

Universal Screening

Universal screening is the systematic assessment of all students. Universal screening identifies the students who are at-risk and require additional support.

Progress Monitoring

After students are identified and matched with additional supports, the subsequent assessments for the student are used for progress monitoring. The data from progress monitoring helps determine if the student still needs supports or needs different supports.


Diagnostic assessments provide more in-depth information of an individual student’s specific skills, for the purpose of guiding future instructional supports.


Summative assessments gather information about student performance compared to grade level standards. Such assessments are typically required by the state and local districts.

Fidelity Assessments

Fidelity Assessments

School staff must take the necessary steps to implement MTSS school-wide practices. Fidelity assessments include the most critical features of MTSS school-wide practices and help show the critical steps.

Implementing with fidelity means that school staff has put the features of MTSS into place properly. Use fidelity assessments to keep track of which features have been put in place by school staff.

Varied Uses of Fidelity Assessments

  • Use initial data to establish baselines and re-assess for progress monitoring.
  • Use the features of MTSS as a checklist for your implementation goals and develop an action plan.
  • Good student outcomes are encouraging, but improved student performance may take time. During the early stages of implementation, use fidelity assessments to provide positive feedback and assure school staff of progress.

Capacity Assessments

Capacity Assessments

When ISDs and districts are involved in implementing MTSS, they help create a sustainable system of support for schools. ISDs and districts must build their capacity to help schools. To build capacity, ISDs and districts must establish procedures and devote resources for MTSS.

Use capacity assessments to determine if your ISD or district is in a position to effectively support schools.

Reach Assessments

Reach Assessments

ISDs, districts, and schools set up MTSS through a process that includes multiple stages of implementation. Identifying the stages of implementation for its constituent districts and schools indicates the reach of an ISD or district. In other words, the reach shows:

  1. How many districts and schools are implementing MTSS to support students.
  2. How far along the districts and schools are in providing the supports to students.

Knowing the reach and the stage of implementation helps with planning.

Keeping track of what stage a constituent district or school is in is not always easy for various reasons:

  • ISDs, districts, and schools have different roles, so the stages of implementation look different for each type of agency.
  • Each district and school may go through the stages at its own pace.
  • Districts and schools often need to revisit earlier stages to achieve sustainable implementation.

MiMTSS Technical Assistance Center created indicators to help identify each stage of implementation for ISDs, districts, and schools.

ISDs and districts can use the indicators to assess their reach with constituent districts and schools, or identify their own stage of implementation.