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Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

MTSS is a comprehensive framework to improve academic, behavior, and social-emotional outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities. MTSS is an effective framework to differentiate research-informed supports matched to student needs. MTSS is also an efficient way to allocate and leverage limited resources to address student needs. This efficiency is increased through an integrated MTSS approach. To implement MTSS correctly, it is important to understand the key components of this framework. 

MTSS Definition

The Michigan Department of Education defines a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) as a comprehensive framework comprised of a collection of research-based strategies designed to meet the individual needs and assets of the whole child. MTSS intentionally interconnects the education, health, and human service systems in support of successful learners, schools, centers, and community outcomes. The five essential components of MTSS are inter-related and complementary. The MTSS framework provides schools and districts with an efficient way to organize resources to support educators in the implementation of effective practices with fidelity so that all learners succeed.

Essential Components of MTSS


The essential components of MTSS identified by MDE include:

  • Team-Based Leadership
  • Tiered Delivery System
  • Selection and Implementation of Instruction, Interventions and Supports
  • Comprehensive Screening & Assessment System
  • Continuous Data-Based Decision Making

Team-Based Leadership

Successful implementation of MTSS requires a committed and consistent effort among school and district-level staff. Teams (district, building, and educator) that collaborate and communicate contribute to the alignment and cohesion across the multiple levels of the system.

Tiered Delivery System

MTSS includes three levels, or tiers, of instruction. Each tier has a set of evidence-based practices to meet the instructional goals.

Tier 1

For MTSS, a school must first establish its tier 1, or universal supports. Universal supports are the instructional practices that help all students in a school. Once the universal supports are in place, staff can use assessment data to determine which students need additional supports.

Tiers 2 and 3

The intensity and duration of supports increase for tiers 2 and 3. The appropriate level of support for each student is determined by assessment data.

Selection and Implementation of Instruction, Interventions and Supports

Instruction, interventions and supports are chosen because there is evidence that indicates expected success for the identified need. Fidelity of implementation of instruction, interventions and supports is critical to learner success.

Comprehensive Screening & Assessment System

A comprehensive screening and assessment system is a coordinated system of multiple assessments and measures which include:

  1. Balanced assessment system (formative, benchmark/interim, summative)
  2. Universal screening measures and decision rules for using those data
  3. Progress monitoring assessments and decision rules for using those data
  4. Diagnostic assessment process

Continuous Data-Based Decision Making

Assessments provide data that can be used to determine the success of a practice or student support. If the data shows a weakness in a practice, or shows that a student is not responding to supports, staff can develop a plan of action to address the issue.

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