MTSS Chapter       MTSS ∴ Multi-Tiered System of Supports

Welcome

Welcome to the MTSS Chapter of the professional development module. Before we begin, if you have not already done so, please download the Module Workbook from one of the links provided below. Your Module Workbook contains all of the pre-assessments, exercises, scenarios and post-assessments for the entire module which incudes this chapter, the UDL chapter and the DI chapter.

In your Module Workbook under the MTSS chapter, please complete the pre-assessment measure. Then proceed to the Introduction on this site. If you are not able to download the Module Workbook, all of the information from the Workbook is found in the site, however we suggest you begin your own Workbook to follow along with the exercises and assignments. With this said, please take note of your answers to the pre-assesment questions so that you will be able to compare them to your answers on the post-assessment at the end of this chapter.

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Pre-Assessment

MTSS Pre-Assessment

In your Module Workbook under the MTSS chapter, please complete the pre-assessment measure. If you are not able to download the Module Workbook, please take note of your answers to the pre-assessment questions so that you will be able to compare them to your answers on the post-assessment at the end of this chapter. The Answer Key is provided at the end of the MTSS post-assessment.

  1. Which of the following is NOT one of the key principles and practices of MTSS?
    1. Intervening early
    2. Data-based decision making
    3. Integration and sustainability
    4. Focus only on students with disabilities
    5. Use of evidence-based practices
  2. According to research, what percentage of California high school students require differentiated instruction?
    1. 30%
    2. 50%
    3. 70%
    4. 90%
  3. State data indicates that while progress has been made, there remain significant achievement gaps between general education students and which categories of learners?
    1. English learners
    2. Students with disabilities
    3. Economically disadvantaged
    4. All of the above
  4. MTSS leverages the principles of Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and integrates a continuum of system-wide resources, strategies, structures and practices to offer a comprehensive and responsive framework for systematically addressing barriers to student learning.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. In MTSS, universal screening is used to:
    1. Identify students who need specific intervention
    2. Identify students who require referral for special education assessment
    3. Establish intervention tiers
    4. Predict students at risk
    5. Develop entry and exit criteria for intervention tiers
  6. Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to
    1. assess students’ academic performance
    2. evaluate the effectiveness of instruction
    3. assist teachers in making instructional decisions for individual students or an entire class
    4. all of the above

Introduction

Diverse Needs

For many years, we have focused our preparation of teachers and academic leaders on meeting the needs of diverse groups of learners for whom they will hold responsibility. In the past, general education teachers gave core instruction for all students; then education specialists, prepared to serve students with specific needs, worked separately in pull-out sessions or self-contained classes with students who had been identified as requiring special education services.

While both sets of teachers still have their responsibilities, MTSS provides a system and process for teams to work together rather than separately in isolation. In fact, MTSS requires teams of general education teachers, education specialist teachers, parents, administrators and service providers at the local school and district levels, community organizations, and professional development trainers to work together for every student. MTSS shows promise for addressing the needs of all students and personalizing learning.

Prologue

First, every teacher addresses the needs of diverse learners in their classrooms every day and though some students may receive additional intensive supports, all teachers, school staff, and leaders share ownership and responsibility for the academic and behavioral growth of all students.

All teachers have a diverse group of learners in their classroom. Most students receive core instruction in the general education classroom, some with additional accommodations. Other learners might be pulled out to resource rooms or self-contained classrooms to receive targeted skill interventions. Regardless of the location or context, all teaching and professional staff in a school should possess shared ownership for the learning and progress of all students.
Promises to Keep: Transforming Educator Preparation to Better Serve a Diverse Range of Learners

Second, all students deserve access to high quality core content-instruction that is differentiated to meet the needs of all learners, grounded in research, and provides increasingly intensified tiered levels of instructional and behavioral support.

Each student deserves a teacher who can provide access to a curriculum of high-quality core content instruction based on universally designed principles and to a team of educators who are adequately prepared and supported to meet his/her needs in core and intervention instruction. General education teachers must be prepared to implement high-quality core content instruction that is evidence-based and differentiated to meet the needs of all learners. Special education teachers, instructional coaches, and teachers providing English language support must be prepared to assist with designing this core instruction and provide intensive intervention instruction using evidence-based practice and data to inform instructional decisions in concert with the general education teachers.

This will not become the norm unless leaders support team work, ongoing professional learning, the scheduling and deployment of staff that enables effective core instruction and intervention to take place, and bringing staff together to create a school-wide system of effective behavior management that enables each student to succeed.

Promises to Keep: Transforming Educator Preparation to Better Serve a Diverse Range of Learners

Third, core instruction paired with progress monitoring that includes tiered levels of support (e.g., Response to Intervention, Multi-tiered Systems of Support) should be recognized as a pivotal framework for closing achievement gaps.

Forty-four states report they are currently implementing or are considering implementing some form of a tiered support system. Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) show promise for addressing the needs of all students and personalizing learning.

Promises to Keep: Transforming Educator Preparation to Better Serve a Diverse Range of Learners

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MTSS Definition

Diverse Needs

The National Center on Intensive Intervention defines MTSS as:

A prevention framework that organizes building-level resources to address each individual student’s academic and/or behavioral needs within 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. The increasingly intense tiers (i.e., Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3), sometimes referred to as levels of prevention (i.e., primary, secondary, intensive prevention levels), represent a continuum of supports.

The core of MTSS is data-based decision-making. This involves collecting data, monitoring each student’s individual performance, and designing and implementing strategies and levels of support necessary so each learner can succeed. This system is fluid and students can move between tiers and levels of support as their needs change. In this way, MTSS provides a new way of addressing the needs of students who struggle and need intervention, despite the presence or absence of disability.

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MTSS Components

MTSS Components

The following core components are key aspects of most MTSS frameworks:

  1. High-quality, differentiated classroom instruction for all students. This instruction is standards-based, differentiated for diverse learners, and carried out by highly-qualified teachers who use evidence-based strategies, such as Universal Design for Learning.
  2. Systemic and sustainable change. This calls for continuous improvement processes at all levels of the system (grade or course level teams, school site teams, district teams).
  3. Integrated data system. School and district staff collaborate to create an Integrated data collection system that is not limited to state tests, but includes universal screening, diagnoses, progress monitoring data, teacher observations, and parent surveys for continuous systemic improvement.
  4. Positive behavioral support. School site and district staff collaboratively select and implement school-wide, classroom, and research-based positive behavioral supports for achieving important social and learning outcomes.

California Department of Education Multi-Tiered System of Supports.

Critical Features of the MTSS Framework

  • Universal screening
  • Data-based decision-making and problem-solving
  • Continuous progress monitoring
  • Focus on successful student outcomes
  • Continuum of evidence-based interventions
    • A core curriculum is provided for all students
    • A modification of this core is arranged for students who are identified as non-responsive
    • A specialized and intensive curriculum for students with intensive needs
  • Focus on successful student outcomes

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MTSS Benefits

Benefits

There are numerous benefits of MTSS, most notably improving education for all students. Implementation of an effective MTSS program eliminates the “wait to fail” situation that prevents at-risk students from receiving intervention sooner versus later. MTSS also provides supports for teachers with instructionally relevant, easily understood information which allows teachers to know what works now to improve student’s skills. And, MTSS encourages better collaboration between teachers and families. Here are a few other benefits:

  • Provides specific types of support for teachers in the form of professional development, technical assistance, and instructional coaching;
  • Outlines clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability for teachers, building leaders, and district personnel;
  • Provides a coherent system for continuous improvement;
  • Ensures that a common understanding or language exists when discussing implementation and expected outcomes;
  • Benefits ALL students when the model is implemented with fidelity!

Research has shown that 70% of high school students are in need of special, specific supports, even when they are not eligible for special education identification. MTSS addresses those needs with systemic improvements across classes, schools, and districts.

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MTSS and RtI

MTSS and RtI

The phrases “Response to Intervention,” commonly referred to as RtI, and “Multi-Tiered System of Supports” (MTSS) are often used interchangeably among many educators. They are not necessarily the same.

umbrellame

What is RtI?

RtI processes focus on students who are struggling and provide a vehicle for teamwork and data-based decision making to strengthen their performances before and after educational and behavioral problems increase in intensity. RtI refers to the practice of providing effective instruction and intervention across three tiers to all students. Assessment, progress monitoring, and data-driven decision making are all components of successful RtI implementation. The hope is to reduce the number of students being referred to Special Education and to provide research- and evidence-based high quality instruction in all tiers.

rtitiers

What are the Tiers?

RtI processes focus on students who are struggling and provide a vehicle for teamwork and data-based decision making to strengthen their performances before and after educational and behavioral problems increase in intensity. RtI refers to the practice of providing effective instruction and intervention across three tiers to all students. Assessment, progress monitoring, and data-driven decision making are all components of successful RtI implementation. The hope is to reduce the number of students being referred to Special Education and to provide research- and evidence-based high quality instruction in all tiers.

Tier One

Tier one is for core instruction for the full class in a regular classroom. All students’ receive effective, differentiated instruction provided by a classroom teacher using evidence-based core curriculum and positive behavioral management strategies. During Tier 1 instruction the teacher identifies students who may need additional supports, using key indicators (poor grades, absenteeism, signs of abuse/neglect, behavioral problems, and other signs of disengagement). Students with these at-risk factors who are not responding to usual supports are referred to the MTSS team. The team meets and discusses the students who need additional supports and lays out a plan for the students. Tier 1 is expected to bring approximately 80% of students to acceptable levels of proficiency.

Tier Two

Tier two is short-term support for those students identified during Tier 1. For students who don’t respond effectively to Tier 1 instruction, Tier 2 supplements core instruction using targeted, evidence-based small-group interventions to help them catch up. This supplemental instruction is expected to bring up to 15% of students to proficient levels. This may involve additional tutoring, one-on-one counseling, behavior contract, self-monitoring plan. Parents are included in the discussions; progress monitoring is key. Students who respond well to Tier 2 additional supports are returned to Tier 1 and students with slow progress remain in Tier 2, while students who do not respond to the additional supports are reviewed for Tier 3.

Tier Three

Tier three involves the application of intensive, evidence-based interventions which are designed to increase the rate of student progress for the approximately 5% of students who need very intensive 1:1 intervention. There are interagency collaborations, mentoring, counseling, and problem-specific interventions. Good progress after these supports results in the student being returned to Tier 1 or Tier 2. Slow progress results in the student continuing in Tier 3. No or minimal progress results in the student’s eligibility for referral for special education evaluation which means parental consent, more intensive evaluations, and/or IEP. When personal safety, family crisis or death, abuse, trauma, suicidal/homicidal ideation are present, students at any level will be immediately placed in Tier 3.

Watch this video: MTSS overview – Ask the Expert MTSS v RTI (1.26 min)

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Implementation

Implementation

For a .Zip file of all related documents for this section select HERE

Look over the newsletter from St. John Elementary School for an example of how one school has implemented and communicated MTSS.

After reading the Andrew Case Studies about the academic history of a boy named Andrew, please complete the table below. Describe Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions that were implemented in the Alternative Scenario for Andrew before he was referred for special education evaluation.

Andrew Case Studies Worksheet Table

For this Table, please refer to your Module Workbook MTSS Chapter. If you have not done so already you may download it here Word doc select HERE, for the screen reader accessible PDF select HERE:

Tier Describe Intervention
and Duration
Grade What additional interventions
could be implemented?
Tier 1 Solid core reading program, universal screening Kindergarten
Tier 2
Tier 3

Read one of the articles listed below and answer these questions in your Workbook.

  1. Select one course that you teach, how would you integrate the discussion of MTSS into course lecture?
  2. What course project can you assign students for them to demonstrate understanding and beginning skill in implementing MTSS to address tiered intervention in an academic area?
  • Hunter, W.C., Maheady, L., Jasper, A.D., Williamson, R.L., Murley, R.C., & Stratton, E. (2015). Numbered heads together as a Tier 1 Instructional strategy in multi-tiered systems of support. Education and Treatment of Children, 38, 345-263.
  • Wilson, J.A., Faggella-Luby, & Wei, Y. (2013). Planning for adolescent Tier 3 reading instruction Teaching Exceptional Children, 46, 26-35.
  • Danielson, L., & Rosenquist, C. (2014). Introduction to the TEC special issue on data-based individualization. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46, 6-12.
  • Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L.S., & Vaughn S. (2014) What is Intensive Intervention and why is it important? Teaching Exceptional Children, 46, 13-18.

Behavioral Tiered Support

behavtieredsupporttriangleclick to enlarge

Behavioral Tiered Support

Watch the video below called Supporting Behavioral Needs: A Multi-Tiered Approach (5.52 min).

After viewing this video, answer this question in your Worksheet journal:

What course project can you assign students for them to demonstrate understanding and beginning skill in implementing MTSS to address tiered intervention in behavior and social-emotional support?

Supporting Behavioral Needs: A Multi-Tiered Approach (5.52 min)

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A Comparison of RtI and MTSS

A Comparison of RtI and MTSS

MTSS differs from RtI as it has a broader scope and is more comprehensive.

Here are some ways that MTSS differs from RtI

  • MTSS encompasses RtI and then some
  • MTSS address academic as well as the social, emotional, and behavioral development of children from early childhood to graduation.
  • MTSS provides multiple levels of support for all learners (struggling through advanced).
  • MTSS aligns resources and support for students receiving instruction AND for teachers and other support staff who are delivering the instruction.
  • MTSS endorses Universal Design for Learning (UDL) instructional strategies so all students have opportunities for learning through differentiated content, processes, and product.
  • MTSS framework is an educational systems change paradigm continuously focused on overall school improvement that is sustainable.
  • MTSS models strive to ensure that practices, policies, and programs are aligned on classroom, school, and district levels.
  • MTSS benefits from continued support for teachers in delivering instruction, utilizing and developing effective curriculum, administering assessment, and using data to guide instruction.
  • MTSS requires a greater focus on collaboration between general education and special education within each school as well as between the school and the district office.
  • MTSS also includes a focus on intervention but has a stronger goal of prevention than perhaps RtI does.
  • MTSS is more likely to produce professional development that is aligned across school and district settings.
  • MTSS requires that teachers, administrators, district personnel, and student support specialists change the way that they have traditionally worked together to include a more collaborative and cohesive culture.

MTSS is not designed for consideration in special education placement decisions, such as specific learning disabilities. MTSS focuses on all students in education contexts.

comparemtssrtivenclick to enlarge

Venn Diagram of MTSS and RtI

The venn diagram figure displays similarities and differences between California’s MTSS and RtI processes. Both rely on RtI’s data gathering through universal screening, data-driven decision making, problem-solving teams, and are focused on the Common Core State Standards. However, the MTSS process has a broader approach, addressing the needs of all students by aligning the entire system of initiatives, supports, and resources, and by implementing continuous improvement processes at all levels of the system.

From: California Department of Education Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) home page

For Administrators

Watch this video: MTSS – Ask the Expert Professional Development for MTSS (3.41)

We recommend that school and district administrators complete Unit 4 of the Digital Chalkboard – CDE/Wested webinar on MTSS. This specifically addresses the needs of administrators.

Access with this link

Post-Assessment Measure

You are almost to the end of this chapter. In your workbook, please complete the MTSS post-assessment measure and compare the results to your pre-assessment measure. If you were not able to download the Module Workbook, please complete the post-assessment and compare the results to your pre-assesment measure of this chapter.

  1. Which of the following is NOT one of the key principles and practices of MTSS?
    1. Intervening early
    2. Data-based decision making
    3. Integration and sustainability
    4. Focus only on students with disabilities
    5. Use of evidence-based practices
  2. According to research, what percentage of California high school students require differentiated instruction?
    1. 30%
    2. 50%
    3. 70%
    4. 90%
  3. State data indicates that while progress has been made, there remain significant achievement gaps between general education students and which categories of learners?
    1. English learners
    2. Students with disabilities
    3. Economically disadvantaged
    4. All of the above
  4. MTSS leverages the principles of Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and integrates a continuum of system-wide resources, strategies, structures and practices to offer a comprehensive and responsive framework for systematically addressing barriers to student learning.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. In MTSS, universal screening is used to:
    1. Identify students who need specific intervention
    2. Identify students who require referral for special education assessment
    3. Establish intervention tiers
    4. Predict students at risk
    5. Develop entry and exit criteria for intervention tiers
  6. Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to
    1. assess students’ academic performance
    2. evaluate the effectiveness of instruction
    3. assist teachers in making instructional decisions for individual students or an entire class
    4. all of the above

Final Reflections

Respond to the questions below in your Module Workbook: MTSS Chapter:

  1. Briefly state what you believe Multi-tiered Systems of Support is:
  2. Why is MTSS recommended for all classrooms?
  3. How might you use MTSS in your own teaching?
  4. How might teacher candidates demonstrate that they can/will use MTSS in their teaching?

Answers to MTSS Pre and Post Assessment

  1. D
  2. D
  3. D
  4. A
  5. D
  6. D

Additional Resources

Schools That Work

  • Prasse, D.P. Breunlin, R.J., Giroux, D., Hunt, J., Morrison, D. ” Thier, K. (2012). Embedding Multi-Tiered System of Supports/Response to Intervention into Teacher Preparation. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 10(2), 75-93.
  • Riccomini, P.J. ” Smith, G.W. (2011). Introduction to Response to Intervention in Mathematics. In Gersten, R. ” Newman-Gonchar, R. (Eds.). Understanding RtI in Mathematics: Proven Methods and Applications. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

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