Foundations for Implementation

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

Logic or a multi-tiered approach. Diverse populations get support matched to need, in order to succeed.

A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) refers to all of the instructional strategies, interventions, and other resources that are used to help all students achieve. An effective system blends culturally-responsive academic and behavior supports to create effective environments that address a range of student needs.

An MTSS makes sure all students are successful by:


The Critical Components of an MTSS

A multi-tiered system of supports requires effective leadership, communication, capacity building, and data systems. Utilizing a continuous improvement model, district and school-based leaders use data-based problem solving to identify organizational changes to make their MTSS more effective.

This is what students get, and includes:

  • Learning standards & behavioral expectations
  • Curriculum & instruction practices
  • Evidence-based programs & practices
  • Integrated achievement & behavior supports

The frequency & intensity of services are matched to student need.

This is how we decide who gets what.

  • Structured process used with fidelity
  • Relies on collaborative and team-based decision-making
  • Effectiveness of decisions is measured by student growth
  • Includes decision protocols/decision rules

The frequency & intensity of problem solving is matched to need.

Effective leaders:

  • Are actively involved with MTSS implementation
  • Share leadership responsibilities
  • Organize practices within a tiered framework
  • Recognize the importance of fidelity for successful outcomes
  • Strategically allocate professional development resources
  • Positively influence the culture and climate of the school
  • Engage in reciprocal coaching practices with stakeholders


  • Ongoing, data-driven professional development & coaching
  • Professional development matched to educator responsibilities
  • Schedules that allow for multiple tiers of instruction/intervention & team-based problem solving
  • Established written practices, policies and implementation guidance (e.g., plans)

Effective teaming and communication practices:

  • Build & sustain consensus about MTSS
  • Build purposeful relationships
  • Are transparent & inclusive when reviewing implementation & student data
  • Are aligned to stakeholder roles & responsibilities
  • Coordinate efficient use of resources

Data-based decision making depends on:

  • A data culture that understands that data may be used in multiple ways
  • Having consensus on the purpose for using data,
  • A “data system” that includes roles & responsibilities for using data (from district to classroom)
  • Multiple sources and types of reliable and valid data
  • Data summarized in user-friendly manner
  • Data summaries that are matched to guiding questions for problem solving

Additional Reading