Everything You Need To Know About MTSS (Multi-Tiered System Of Support)

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

A multi-tiered system of support, often known as MTSS, is a framework with a tiered infrastructure that uses data to match academic and social-emotional behavior assessment and instructional resources to the requirements of every student.

Teachers work to ensure that most children react to fundamental education within this tiered, data-informed framework. The correct emphasis and level of help are given to students who require it for enrichment or remediation based on data analysis.

Using data to assess and enhance their performance continuously, MTSS supports educators in thoughtfully and effectively deploying resources. MTSS increases the efficiency of the district-wide system and guarantees that we meet every student’s requirements.

It streamlines and unifies the excellent work and best practices already being carried out in a district, ensuring that these initiatives no longer take place in isolation. Additionally, MTSS assists communities in bridging gaps in their best practices that may arise from widespread issues like a lack of resources, teamwork, and lack of program effectiveness visibility.

MTSS: Helping struggling students with strategies and support

Some kids have academic difficulties. Some people deal with behavioral issues. Others still struggle with both. How do schools handle children with problems or obstacles that hinder their learning capacity?

Many schools employ a structure of support and interventions meant to deal with these behavioral and academic difficulties. This framework, known as MTSS, aids schools in the early identification of problematic pupils so that they may get prompt support

 MTSS employs a proactive strategy to identify kids who require academic or behavioral support. Early evaluation and assistance can help these kids catch up with their peers more quickly. The following are the main MTSS components:

  • Early in the school year, all kids should be screened.
  • Intervention levels that can be increased in response to need
  • Continuous evaluation and ongoing data collecting
  • A systemic approach to expectations and support at all schools
  • Parental participation

Utilizing gathered data, the integrated education model of MTSS assesses students’ needs and offers solutions at the proper levels.

How does MTSS work?

Three Levels of Support

A technique of early detection and intervention offered by MTSS can assist underachieving pupils in catching up with their classmates. As a result, MTSS employs three support layers to help all students. These three levels consist of the following:

1. Universal or primary: Tier 1

The most significant layer, Tier 1, serves as the framework’s cornerstone and covers the whole school with fundamental lessons and interventions. This organization fosters good communication between faculty and students. It consists of proactive classroom management techniques designed to promote a positive environment. If these treatments are unsuccessful, students may advance to Tier 2.

Tier 1

2. Secondary, Tier 2

In Tier 2, students who require additional guidance to achieve their behavioral and academic objectives do so. These interventions and supports are frequently given in contexts where small groups are present, such as reading circles. Tier 2 often includes treatments known as Check-In/Check-Out (CICO). Students can work toward catching up with their peers.

Tier 2

3. Tertiary, Tier 3

Some pupils experience considerable difficulties and do not benefit from Tier 1 or Tier 2 interventions and assistance. Tier 3 provides these pupils with specialized services, which may involve help from other organizations like family therapists or behavioral counselors.

Tier 3

To ensure that students receive the necessary instruction, support, and interventions based on need, MTSS tiers assist schools in organizing levels of support based on intensity. As a result, tier levels are not used to determine student identities. Instead, people are classified as needing support as students. This makes it easier for teachers to react appropriately and give students the support they need to succeed in the classroom.

Pros and Cons of MTSS

The fact that students receive assistance quickly in the context of general education is the most significant advantage of an MTSS method. This removes the “wait to fail” problem.

  • MTSS emphasizes prevention.

The MTSS framework emphasizes prevention by giving students who are at risk for or currently suffer from behavioral or academic challenges early intervention and assistance.

  • MTSS incorporates decision-making based on data.

Important MTSS components include data collecting and documentation. This material aids instructors in making data-driven choices regarding the best student interventions.

  • MTSS enables early detection and intervention for kids with behavioral and learning challenges.

Finding kids who could have academic or behavioral difficulties is one of the most critical aspects of MTSS. MTSS regularly monitors student progress and performance after identifying pupils who need more fantastic assistance.

Educators frequently describe MTSS as “a culture” that has to permeate every aspect of the school. However, it might be challenging to put this concept into action truly.

Here are a few probable cons of the MTSS: 

  • Ensure that every employee is aware of and comprehends the MTSS procedure in the building.

A standardized, consistent procedure will help prevent bias or inequality when making decisions to support pupils. Even if you believe you understand the issue, it’s crucial to go through the same procedure with each pupil. 

  • Monitoring patterns in intervention in academics with behavior

A data system that enables you to monitor, view, and respond to data across academics, attendance, and behavior is required to track the efficacy of interventions across each tier. This is a very time-consuming, methodical process that frequently results in mistakes. 

  • Using customized interventions to meet the requirements of the pupils.

Every student needs something different, which is one of the fundamental principles of MTSS. By using differentiated education and individualized learning, we must meet the requirements of every student.

MTSS: Is there any research?

From a systems change viewpoint, this succinct summary offers a place to start when considering the sustainable implementation of MTSS. It has been emphasized[1] that adapting to the MTSS framework necessitates a shift in working habits for every member of the school district personnel. Regular operations are no longer sufficient to meet students’ educational interests and demands. 

To promote MTSS awareness and the creation of agreement around MTSS practices, construct the necessary infrastructure, and assess implementation fidelity to recognize progress and comprehend outcomes, training, and technical help play a crucial role. The MTSS framework can bring about systemic change that results in noticeably better academic and social outcomes for all learners when adequately developed and carried out with the required training and other supports.

MTSS and special education: How does it help

MTSS aids all students. MTSS enables us to determine whether our core curriculum meets most of our kids’ requirements. We can identify which of our pupils need a little additional aid and which could require a lot of it, thanks to MTSS.

A prompt and ongoing identification, intervention, and analysis method known as MTSS can be used with special education services and programs. While receiving specialized assistance through a SPED program, kids with disabilities also benefit from MTSS, which provides them with technical materials and teaching.

Additionally, the review process for a special education referral may use MTSS data to enhance the efficacy of a student’s instruction or intervention.


A multi-tiered system of support is a method that offers several interventions and underpinning techniques to cater to each student’s unique requirements. With the appropriate amount of help, all students should be able to succeed according to this method. Creating a multi-tiered support system while recognizing the difficulties that come with it has many benefits.


  1. Orla, & Averill, Higgins & Rinaldi, Claudia. (2013). Research Brief: Multi-tier System of Supports (MTSS) Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative: From RTI and PBIS to MTSS.

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