Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
Response to Intervention (RTI), the academic and behavioral support framework that provided interventions and supports for all students, has had a name change. The term to describe our tiered process is now officially Georgia’s Tiered System of Supports for Students. This is a version of the national term: Multi-Tiered System of Supports or MTSS for short! All of them are acceptable to use. Most often you will hear “MTSS” used around here.
What is MTSS?
A National Definition of MTSS (from National Center on Response to Intervention, 2010): A tiered system of supports integrates assessment and intervention within a school-wide, multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and reduce behavioral problems. Promotes systems alignment to increase efficiency and effectiveness of resources.
In other words:
- We assess students for the purpose of identifying who needs additional supports.
- We want to prevent failure by catching potential challenges early.
- Teachers implement interventions for specific skills and do frequent checks on the student’s progress.
- We work collaboratively to maximize student achievement and appropriate behavior.
The overarching purpose of MTSS implementation is to improve educational outcomes for all students using a team approach. Something else is new, too. Starting with the 2018-19 school year, the Georgia Department of Education has moved from being the only state with a four-tier pyramid in its intervention framework to aligning with all the other states who have three tiers! MTSS provides the framework for ensuring that all students receive the level of support that they need in order to be successful academically and behaviorally.
This graphic helps to see the layered approach and connections to family and community partnerships, and teacher and leader development.
Below is the official Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) graphic for MTSS. It shows the connected components:
The essential components of our MTSS include the following:
- Screening all student to identify students in need of support - before they fail. It’s a preventive model;
- Providing scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in the general education classroom;
- Monitoring a student’s progress in response to these changes in instruction and interventions;
- Using this information and data to shape instruction and make educational decisions.
Undergirding all of this is the infrastructure that addresses leadership, professional development, school schedules, prevention focus, resources, cultural and linguistic responsiveness, implementation teams, and involvement and communication with all stakeholders.
Under the Multi-Level Prevention System are several supports: Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports (PBIS), Response to Intervention (RTI), Student Support Team (SST), School Mental Health (SMH), Wrap-Around Services (WRAP), and others. These are further explained in the MTSS Vocabulary section.
How does MTSS work?
MTSS uses a three-tiered process to systematically develop and deliver academic and behavioral interventions to struggling learners as well as extremely high-level learners. It provides us with a common focus and a common language regarding instructional practices and interventions. It can serve as a way to explore all avenues to assist students in their learning process.
Each school has an MTSS team that includes representatives from two or more of the following groups: classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, nurse, speech and language pathologist, and Central Office representative (school psychologist, school social worker, District RTI/MTSS Specialist), and sometimes special education teachers. The exact composition of the team may be modified based on the specific needs of each student’s case. The team meets regularly, usually weekly or bi-weekly and engages in a problem-solving protocol to determine the student’s areas of need and to identify appropriate research-based interventions that may help develop the targeted skills. The student’s progress is monitored and further decisions are made based on that data.
Parents are an essential part of the process. Regular communication occurs throughout the tiers. In addition, parents are invited and encouraged to attend all SST (Tier 3) meetings, where the team makes decisions about more individualized support and interventions.
- Students receive the benefit of a team of education professionals collaborating to make instructional decisions.
- Students benefit from having multiple professionals planning and implementing research-based interventions to address their targeted skills.
- Teachers benefit because MTSS meetings are professional learning experiences
- Teachers benefit from the collaborative support from their colleagues.
How can I support my child’s education?
(Source: Forsyth (GA) County Schools’ Parent Pyramid of Interventions)
- Read to and with your child every day.
- Obtain a library card and visit the library often.
- Ask your child about his/her school day.
- Monitor and help with homework.
- Initiate a communication with your child’s teacher, regardless of performance.
- Ask for a conference if you notice that your child is experiencing difficulties.
- Praise your child for good work and progress.
- Maintain regular communication with your child’s teacher.
- Attend Curriculum Night and other school-sponsored events.
- Assist your child with preparation for the school day – school attendance, breakfast, adequate sleep.
What should I do if I have concerns about my child’s academic or behavioral progress?
- Notify your child’s teacher and ask for a conference.
- Gather home information related to your child’s specific strengths, homework samples, attitude about school, test scores, previous school experiences, peer relationships, and challenges.
- Participate in problem-solving discussions with the school staff about your child’s specific strengths and needs.
- Participate in RTI/MTSS meetings and assist school staff with monitoring your child’s progress towards meeting specific, measurable goals.
City Schools of Decatur RTI Specialist
Dr. Madge Willis