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8 steps to developing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (and other considerations)

Amanda ClarkJune 1, 2022

8 steps to developing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (and other considerations)

Developed by P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a framework that provides a coordinated, systematic, and continuous process to improve student outcomes. We know it sounds complicated, but fortunately, the MTSS framework includes only three essential components:

1. A three-tiered approach to providing behavioral and academic support services 

2. Continual assessment and data analysis to drive decision-making

3. Coordination and collaboration among educators, families, and community partners

P.K. Yonge has implemented MTSS education since 2006, and the educational technique still works. The organization has proved that the process is straightforward: Every student receives core instruction, known as Tier 1. This tier includes the general population of students who all need help with their language development and understanding of social norms. Tier 2, takes this a step further and offers some students supplemental training that can assist them beyond what’s offered at school or home. Tier 3 focuses on a smaller percentage of students that may require in-school support services like therapy, contracts, and more. 

Wondering how your school can take steps to develop a multi-tiered system of supports?  It’s a lot less intimidating than it might sound, so read on!

Table of Contents

Steps to developing a multi-tiered system of supports

If you’re interested in developing a multi-tiered system of supports, there are a few things you’ll need to do. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

Meet with your Student Success Team

The Student Success Team (SST) is usually composed of the K-12 MTSS support specialist, administrators, the learning community leader, speech and language pathologists, teachers, guidance counselors, and sometimes occupational therapists. These meetings offer an opportunity to collaboratively reflect on students’ goals and achievements. As an administrator, you’ll want to base your SST on the needs of your school. Once you have your team, schedule a meeting to start developing your multi-tiered systems of support. 

Assess the current state of your school

You and your team will then assess your school’s current state and identify areas where additional support is needed. This is the time to establish shared values and goals for the MTSS. This phase should involve input from administrators, teachers, parents, students, and special education professionals. This assessment may include reviews of data from standardized tests, academic performance data, surveys, or interviews.This should take place not only with your SST, but with parents or guardians as well.

Gather current data 

The next step is to gather data on the current performance of all students in your school district. This should include both academic and behavioral data. You’ll also need information on which students are currently receiving accommodations.

Once you have this information, you can begin to identify patterns and identify which students are most in need of support. You can also use this data to determine which accommodations are already working and make changes as needed.

Determine tiers

The majority of students get their needs met through Tier 1 instruction. P.K Yonge aims for 80% efficacy for those hitting targets, but your school may choose a percentage you find appropriate. Tiers 2 and 3 provide more in-depth support for students and in turn, require more challenging work, but according to research, they can benefit students with more intensive needs. Note most students require Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions, but around 5% may require Tier 3 interventions. 

Develop a plan for intervention that addresses identified needs.

Once you’ve assessed your students’ needs, it’s important to identify any gaps in services or support that are currently in place. This can help to target specific students who would benefit from Tiers 2 and 3. 

There are a few different ways schools can implement a multi-tiered system of supports. One way is through Response to Intervention (RTI). This approach involves providing increasing levels of support to students who are struggling academically or behaviorally. 

Another way to implement MTSS is through Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). This approach focuses on preventing problem behaviors from happening in the first place by teaching behavior expectations and reinforcing positive behavior. Both RTI and PBIS can be effective systems for addressing academic and behavioral needs of students.

It’s important to remember that MTSS is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, schools should consider the specific needs of the students and develop a support plan that caters to the school’s particular needs.

Come up with a plan for delivering instructional and behavioral support services

The next step is to develop a comprehensive plan for how you will deliver instructional and behavioral support services and allocate MTSS resources. This plan should be based on the needs of your students and, for an added bonus, can be aligned with the Common Core standards

Questions to ask yourself during this step:

  • What evidence-based tools are we using to address students’ needs?
  • How are we screening students and adequately addressing their individual needs?
  • How are we monitoring student progress?
  • How are we offering high-quality instruction for all students?

Choose evidence-based interventions that are aligned with these goals and objectives

Here are some general tips that can be useful when choosing evidence-based practices 

 for a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS):

  • Make sure data guides the intervention. In other words, you should have a clear idea of what problem you’re trying to solve with the intervention and then select an evidence-based solution that is effective in addressing that particular issue.
  • Make sure the intervention is aligned with your state’s academic standards. 
  • Assess your progress and make adjustments as needed.

The best way to assess your progress and make necessary adjustments for a multi-tiered system of supports is to consult with your team continually. 

You’ll want to take a data-based approach, looking at student performance data and test scores, behavior data, and surveys. By having frequent discussions about progress and implementing changes as needed, you can ensure that all students receive the high-quality instruction and support they need for success.

Maintain MTSS student support meeting documentation

Maintain MTSS student support meeting documentation by having support staff evaluate accommodations for students. Keep customizable resources for MTSS coordinators during or after meetings with teachers, support staff, parents, and students. 

Usually, these meetings aim to review the effectiveness of specific support strategies for a student or track student progress towards academic or behavioral goals. These meetings are often connected with a student’s individualized education plan (IEP) or MTSS at Tier 2 or 3, and so documentation is necessary. Download the template for this MTSS documentation here, where you can learn about MTSS best practices and more. 

Other considerations

Addressing stigmas

MTSS creates a way to help students of varying abilities, but administrators know that some accommodations or tiers may put students at risk of being marginalized or shamed. This is why it’s essential for your staff to ensure that students feel respected and safe, no matter their needs. Teachers should also respect student privacy and schedule meetings to discuss extensive MTSS plans with students outside of class. Additionally, teachers should be encouraged to educate students about the specific tiers, why they are used, and how they are beneficial for all students. This educational awareness can help break down stigmatizing barriers. 

Programs to consider for collecting data

Many programs can collect data for a multi-tiered system of supports. Some popular ones include AIMSweb, Progress Monitoring, and Classcraft. Each of these programs has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose one that will fit the needs of your particular system.

AIMSweb is a web-based data collection and analysis tool often used in schools. It has been shown to reduce problem behavior and improve academic performance.

Classcraft is a student-friendly online platform that collects data for tiers by having students answer questions about their daily behavior and goals. 

Progress Monitoring is another web-based data collection tool that can track student progress over time. It is handy for monitoring individual student progress and identifying areas of need.


MTSS steps are essential for your school because they provide a framework for improving student achievement. Implementing MTSS can identify students who need extra support and develop mechanisms to provide that support. MTSS can also ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. Plus, data from MTSS can be used to inform decisions about instructional practices and the allocation of resources. All of these factors make MTSS an essential part of any school’s efforts to improve student achievement. Good luck with your school’s MTSS journey!

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