Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) is a prominent buzzphrase in the educational community, but what exactly does Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports mean?
MTSS is an approach to school improvement that provides a framework for delivering targeted support to students. The goal of MTSS is to ensure that all students have access to high-quality instruction and services. As the Massachusetts Department of Education explains, “MTSS support[s] schools by proactively identifying and addressing the strengths and needs of all students by optimizing data-driven decision-making, progress monitoring, and the use of evidence-based supports and strategies with increasing intensity to sustain student growth.”
Research also shows that the MTSS Framework is a proven method for improving student academic performance and reducing expulsions, suspensions, and referrals. It allows for individualized support plans that are based on individual needs, while also enhances student problem solving skills.
Key components of MTSS in education include:
- A continuum of evidence-based interventions and individualized support for each student
- Integrated data systems that allow regular student progress monitoring and timely adjustments to interventions and supports
- School-level leadership and coordination, including clear roles and responsibilities for all team members
- Three easy-to-implement tiers, with Tier 1 focusing on universal instruction, Tier 2 on targeted group interventions, and Tier 3 on individualized intensive interventions
So, if you’re looking to integrate MTSS into your school or improve your existing implementation, read on to learn about 10 advantages of developing a multi-tiered system of supports.
Table of Contents
1. MTSS focuses on prevention
The MTSS framework focuses on prevention by providing early intervention and support to students who are at risk for or already experience academic or behavioral difficulties. It provides a range of supports at each tier of intervention. Additionally, Tier 1 interventions are preventative and universal, meaning they are provided to all students to stop problems before they start. These interventions might include improvements to classroom curriculum, instruction, and positive behavior expectations.
If a student continues to struggle despite these Tier 1 interventions, then he or she will receive additional support at Tier 2. And if more assistance is needed, students will then go to Tier 3, offering the highest level of individualized support.
2. MTSS integrates data-driven decision-making
Documentation and data gathering are important components of MTSS. This documentation helps educators make data-driven decisions about the most effective interventions for their students. In fact, MTSS encourages progress monitoring, defined by the Colorado State of Education as “a systematic approach to gathering academic and behavioral data using a variety of data collection methods.” This has been shown to improve system outcomes.
Need some guidance for MTSS documentation? Check out our template that breaks it down here!
3. MTSS encourages more individualized instruction
Because MTSS includes frequent progress monitoring and data-based decisions, teachers can provide more individualized instruction to each student. This can help all students improve their academic performance, especially those struggling or falling behind.
The level of MTSS individualized instruction will vary depending on the needs of each student. However, examples of individualized support that might be provided through an MTSS framework include:
- Targeted interventions for small groups of students
- One-on-one support for struggling students with a particular concept or skill
- Close monitoring of student progress and regular data-driven decision-making to ensure that all students are making progress and receiving the support they need
4. MTSS provides earlier identification and intervention for students with learning and behavioral difficulties
One of the critical components of MTSS is working to identify which students may struggle academically or behaviorally. After identifying students who need more support, MTSS offers daily monitoring of student progress and performance. Finally, it has built-in supports and interventions that can be immediately implemented if a student struggles.
The earlier identification afforded by the Multi-Tiered System of Supports can make a huge difference in a student’s academic life. By catching difficulties early on, you can prevent them from becoming bigger problems down the road. Additionally, the daily monitoring provides teachers with real-time data that they can use to adjust instruction and better address the needs of their students.
5. MTSS improves student behavior
There are a few ways that MTSS can improve student behavior. For starters, MTSS helps educators better identify and understand the specific needs of each student. This individualized approach allows educators to provide targeted interventions and accommodations that help each student succeed.
Additionally, MTSS creates a consistent and predictable school environment that helps students feel more secure and supported. Finally, MTSS emphasizes positive reinforcement and provides teachers with strategies for constructively managing behavioral issues. Together, these factors create an environment in which students are more likely to behave appropriately.
In a nutshell, multi-tiered support systems can provide students with the structure and guidance to develop positive social and emotional skills. This can lead to fewer school discipline problems and increased academic engagement.
6. MTSS is inclusive and encourages equity
Even though some people think of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) as just benefiting students with disabilities, the reality is that MTSS can help all students regardless of their abilities. MTSS ensures that all students have access to the same quality of instruction and support, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.
The goal of MTSS is to provide all students with the support they need to be successful in school. That includes everything from early childhood intervention to extra help for struggling students, or even gifted student programs for those who excel academically.
7. MTSS increases student achievement
MTSS is research-based and proven to improve student outcomes. It does this through the following:
- Data-driven decision making: The data collected through MTSS helps educators make data-driven decisions about what interventions are most effective for their students.
- Increased focus on individual student needs: A multi-tiered system of support allows for differentiated instruction and services for all students, with an emphasis on meeting the unique needs of each student. This ensures that all students have access to the necessary support to succeed.
- Early intervention and prevention: A multi-tiered system of supports provides early intervention and prevention services to at-risk students or those already experiencing academic difficulties. This helps ensure that students receive the help they need before falling too far behind.
- Increased ability to respond quickly to changes in student performance: A multi-tiered system of supports allows for quick and targeted responses to changes.
8. MTSS takes a preventive, proactive approach in order to identify students who may need extra support
The Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is a proactive, coordinated, and data-driven system for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the educational programming and services they need to succeed. An MTSS framework provides a structure for schools to systematically identify students who may benefit from special education services, provide interventions and supports at appropriate intensity levels, and continuously monitor student progress to make adjustments as needed.
This means that students who might fall through the cracks in a traditional system are more likely to get the interventions they need before they begin to struggle.
9. MTSS provides a holistic approach to meeting students’ needs
Rather than solely focusing on students with formally diagnosed disabilities, MTSS acknowledges that all students have different strengths and weaknesses and provides support accordingly. This inclusive approach can benefit all students, not just those with special needs.
MTSS takes into consideration the whole child, not just their academic performance. In turn, all aspects of the child’s development are considered, including social, emotional, and behavioral needs.
Furthermore, MTSS is a comprehensive approach that utilizes improvement science methodology to address student needs.
It starts with a universal screening of all students to identify those who may be struggling in any area. From there, targeted interventions are implemented for those who need additional support. Next, progress monitoring tracks student progress and adjusts interventions as needed. Finally, an evaluation is conducted to ensure that the MTSS system addresses the needs of the students and the school.
10. MTSS is an ongoing process
It’s essential for educators to view MTSS as an ongoing process and not a one-shot deal. MTSS provides a continuum of services and supports that meet the needs of all students, from prevention to intervention to support. It provides a structure for schools to systematically identify students who may benefit from special education services, as well as provide interventions and supports at increasing intensity levels to prevent or remediate academic difficulties. It’s important to continuously monitor student progress so that adjustments can be made as needed.
Multi-Tiered System of Supports is an approach that provides a variety of interventions and support strategies to meet students’ individual needs. The idea behind this system is that all students can be successful with the right level of assistance. And as we discussed, there are numerous advantages of developing a multi-tiered system of supports.
So, If you’re looking for a way to help students succeed, consider implementing it in your district. And don’t forget to download our MTSS template today!
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