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Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)


A multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a framework for providing instruction to students. Many educators say, “We do MTSS.” However, the wide range of activities and models suggest that educators lack a common understanding.

Essential Components of MTSS

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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