MTSS is a framework that many schools use to provide targeted support to struggling students.
It screens all kids and aims to address behavioral as well as academic issues.
The goal of MTSS is to intervene early so students can catch up with their peers.
A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) is a phrase you may hear about at school or from other parents. You may hear it called the MTSS framework, the MTSS process, or the MTSS model.
No matter what it’s called, MTSS has a very important goal. It’s designed to help schools identify struggling students early and to intervene quickly.
What is MTSS?
MTSS is a framework that many schools use to provide targeted support to struggling students. It focuses on the “whole child.” MTSS supports academic growth and achievement, but it also supports many other areas. This includes behavior, social and emotional needs, and absenteeism.
The multi-tier supports are a huge part of MTSS. These tiers of support increase in intensity from one level to the next. For example, some kids receiving small-group interventions may need to “move up” to one-on-one help.
Some school districts use a system with four tiers of support. But it’s more common for districts to use three tiers. Here is a basic outline of how a three-tiered system works.
Tier 1: The whole class. All students are taught with methods that research has shown to be effective. All students are screened to see who is and isn’t responding to these strategies. Kids may be broken into small groups that address different strengths and areas of need.
Tier 2: Small group interventions. Some students receive more targeted support in small groups. The scheduling of these interventions is important. The goal is to keep students from missing any core instruction or other Tier 1 activities that might make it harder to catch up.
Tier 3: Intensive individualized support. A few students who move up to this most intensive level of support continue with Tier 1 activities. Their break-out groups are smaller than in Tier 2. And these sessions last longer and are more narrowly focused.
Examples of MTSS
MTSS is an “umbrella” term. It includes some multi-tier systems of support you may know already:
Response to intervention (RTI) focuses on academics. It identifies kids who are struggling. And it provides increasing levels of support to help them catch up. Tier 1 is class-wide instruction and support. Ideally Tier 2 interventions are scheduled so students won’t miss any core instruction. The same is true for Tier 3.
There may be incentives or rewards for good behavior. And a tiered system supports struggling students. The focus overall is not on punishing kids. It’s on helping them meet expectations and contribute to a positive learning environment.
MTSS and special education
A special education evaluation is usually the next step if students don’t make enough progress in Tier 3. But they reach this point with lots of documentation. Data from the MTSS process can be helpful when developing an
The goal of MTSS is to screen early and to deliver targeted support quickly. It can also help schools tell the difference between kids who have not had good instruction in the past and those who truly need special education.
But parents don’t have to wait for their child to go through all phases of MTSS before they request an evaluation for special education. They can ask for an evaluation at any point.
The school can refuse to conduct an evaluation. But it must notify the parent in writing. And the parent could then file a complaint or seek due process. MTSS can’t be used to delay or deny evaluations of students suspected of having a disability.