What is MTSS? 

According to the National Center on Response to Intervention, MTSS is defined as follows: 

A Multi-Tiered System of Support is a prevention framework that organizes building-level resources to address each individual student’s academic and/or behavioral needs with intervention tiers that vary in intensity. MTSS allows for the early identification of learning and behavioral challenges and timely intervention for students who are at risk for poor learning outcomes. It may also be called a multi-level prevention system. The increasingly intense tiers (Tier I, Tier II, Tier III), sometimes referred to as levels of prevention (i.e., primary, secondary, intensive prevention levels), represent a continuum of supports.

Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are examples of MTSS. MTSS is a “whole child” approach designed to help schools identify struggling students and to intervene quickly. Areas that MTSS are supports academic growth, behavior, social and emotional needs, and absenteeism (not attending school).

The tiers of support are a huge part of MTSS. They get more intense from one level to the next. For example, a child getting small group interventions may need to “move up” to one-on-one help.

MTSS supports the adults at the school, too. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — the main education law for public schools — cites MTSS as a way to increase teacher effectiveness. ESSA gives states funding that can be used for professional development to help teachers use MTSS.

MTSS is not the same thing as response to intervention (RTI). MTSS is more comprehensive. But it may include the three tiers of RTI.

Lastly, MTSS covers the adults at school, too. It includes things like professional development for teachers. MTSS also focuses on creating ways for adults to collaborate to help struggling kids.

The goal of MTSS is to ensure that all students get what they need to learn.

Waverly School District uses the more common three tiers of support. Here’s a basic outline of how a three-tiered system works.

Diamond of tiered services


Tier I

Tier I instruction is course/grade level instruction that each student receives on a daily basis in the general education setting from the general education teacher. This includes core instruction, differentiated instruction, whole and small group instruction, special seating, and best practices. For approximately 80% of students, this tier will meet their academic and behavioral needs.

For example, the whole class is being taught a proven standards based curriculum; therefore, all students in the general education classroom are in this tier. Teachers use instruction that’s proven to work (best practices, research based curriculum). Students may work in small groups based on their strengths and areas of need. The school monitors all kids’ progress. A student who is struggling may move to Tier 2.

Tier II 

Tier II intervention is supplemental instruction for students who need additional support or enrichment in learning the course/grade level material. The supportive interventions are provided by the general education teacher, specialists, and/or tutors and usually involve additional practice and skill building in a small group setting. Tier II interventions can support approximately 15% of the student population. 

Tier II enrichment is also intended for students who are exceeding course/grade level expectations.

Continued with our whole class instruction. If Tier 1 isn’t working then a small group intervention maybe put in place. For small group interventions, students in Tier 2 still attend Tier 1 lessons with the rest of the class. But they get more targeted support through small group lessons. It can also mean special teaching, called interventions . A student who isn’t making growth progress after 4-6 weeks may stay in Tier 2 or move to Tier 3.

Tier III 

Tier III intervention is intensive support provided to students who are struggling with significant learning gaps. In addition to core instruction and Tier II interventions, these supports will be provided by the general education teacher, specialists and/or tutors. Tier III interventions are provided in a small group or individual setting and can serve approximately 5% of the student population. 

It is important to note the MTSS is not a placement model, but rather is a flexible service model. Students may move fluidly among the tiers as a result of their response to the instruction and interventions they receive. For example, if data shows progress, a student can move from Tier I to Tier II and back to Tier I . 

Continued with our whole class instruction example, if Tier 1 isn’t working, then a Tier 2 small group was introduced. If the student growth is not adequate (meeting goals) a Tier 3 or intensive individualized support. This tier can mean small group work or individual lessons. Most kids in Tier 3 still spend a lot of the day in the general education classroom. But they may spend more time working in an individual setting than before.

MTSS Problem Solving Method

Question: Is there a problem? What is it? 

●  Define area(s) of concern and prioritize.

●  Review/Collect baseline data on primary area of concern.

●  State discrepancy between what is expected and what is occurring.

Question: Why is it happening?

●  Review factors that could be impacting performance (i.e., behavior, attendance, medication, health, environment).

●  Collect additional data as needed. 

Question: What shall we do about it?

●  Identify intervention strategies/procedures.

●  Identify implementation logistics to ensure the plan is implemented with integrity.

●  Identify progress monitoring logistics (e.g., who, what, when, where, how often).

●  Write the goal, a measurable statement of expected outcomes.

●  Decide on decision making rules for plan evaluation. 

Question: After 6-8 weeks, did our plan work?

●  Is progress being made toward the goal?

●  Is the discrepancy decreasing between what is expected and what is occurring?

●  Can the plan be maintained? 

Responsibilities of MTSS Teams 

MTSS is a system level practice, therefore, an MTSS team consists of educators capable of leading system level change and management. According to the work of Chenoweth and Everhart (2002), effective leadership teams consists of individuals possessing the following characteristics:

  1. they are committed to school-wide change;
  2. they are respected by colleagues;
  3. they possess leadership potential;
  4. they demonstrate effective interpersonal skills; and
  5. they are self-starters with perseverance to see projects through

The role of the team

Who is involved and what are the roles? 

The MTSS Tier 2 and Tier 3 team is comprised of school personnel who are versed in the multidisciplinary needs of the whole child; academic, special needs, medical, behavioral, personal, social and emotional. It is therefore recommended that the SEL, nurse, teachers and administrator participate. School counselors support students for behavioral, social, emotional and academic needs, and are the point persons for behavioral health and crises so they are required to be a lead on this team.

Team Roles

1) Administrative Representative (or appointee)

2) MTSS Team Coordinator/Facilitator 

3) Grade-level/Content Area Representative

  • Serves as a liaison between Collaboration Time and/or MTSS 
  • Attends School day Collaboration Time and/or MTSS meetings on a regular basis
  • Identifies trends in student/staff need across grade-level or content area
  • Presents data/background information on student being discussed (in absence of classroom teacher)

4) Specialists (rotating members including ELL teacher, speech/language pathologist, intervention teacher, behavior specialist)

  • Provides expertise to MTSS team regarding interventions and skill remediation
  • Supports MTSS team with data interpretation and ensures linkage of data to selected interventions 
  • Gathers progress monitoring data from School Day Collaboration Teams and Tier 3 interventionists for review during MTSS meetings
  • Consults/collaborates with classroom teachers regarding differentiated instruction 

5) Classroom teacher
 (Rotating member)

6) Parent/Guardian Role 

  • Provide relevant home/community information 
  • Provide relevant medical/social information 
  • Provide relevant behavioral/behavioral health information 
  • Collaborate with school personnel to develop interventions 
  • Support reinforcement interventions as appropriate at home 
  • Attend meetings related to their child 
  • Ask questions about the status of interventions and student progress 
  • Share status of interventions done at home and student progress at home 
  • Engage with community partners/providers as recommended or referred by school staff

7) Student Role 

As possible, help teachers, counselors, parents, other adults who provide support understand needs and concerns and insights into the behavior: 

MTSS Problem-Solving Team Plan of Action

Monitoring Core Instruction

  • Are all students working with grade-level materials and standards? 
  • Are teachers well-supported in implementing adopted programs and items from the approved supplemental list?
  • Is content for students appropriately paced?
  • Does the movement through material attend to the developmental readiness of the student?
  • What is the evidence of differentiated instruction?
  • Is small-group, leveled instruction provided multiple days each week?

Monitoring Intervention Integrity

  • Is the intervention plan implemented with integrity?
  • Administrator signs off on integrity of instruction and intervention across tiers.

Establishing Feedback System Regarding Instructional Integrity

  • Make quality instruction a part of the annual goals for all teachers.
  • Acknowledge staff members who are delivering quality instruction and support those who are not to raise their level of performance



Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.

Mission: Building individuals for today and tomorrow.