Multi-tiered systems of supports, or MTSS, is a framework centered around the idea that all students have different needs at school, whether academic, behavioral, social, or emotional.
MTSS relies on evidence-based tiers of instruction. Districts typically use a three-tier model, collect data on student performance, and tailor instruction accordingly.
Tier 1 is core instruction, otherwise known as general classroom instruction, which all students receive, and should include social-emotional learning components, according to MTSS4Success, a nonprofit center associated with the American Institutes for Research that supports districts in implementing the framework.
At Tier 2, schools should provide small group instruction for students struggling to learn at Tier 1. Tier 2 supports can include behavioral or mental health supports, if necessary.
For the minority of students who need the most intensive supports, Tier 3 should offer them based on the students’ personal needs.
The tiered system should be accompanied by data collection and evaluation of student performance and behavior, according to MTSS models.
Thousands of districts across the country use MTSS models, and virtually every state department of education has MTSS framework guidance for local districts on their websites, according to multiple experts who spoke with EdWeek.
Here is a downloadable guide to the essential components of MTSS: