Over the past five years, our district has embarked on a journey to ensure that every single student receives the support they need to be successful in all aspects of their education. To achieve this goal of success for all students, we are creating and refining a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) at the district and school sites. Each site has a comprehensive team of administrators, classroom teachers, special education teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and classified staff. The teams are tasked with meeting on a regular basis to evaluate their current system of support and to consider which steps they might need to take to ensure that all students are receiving the support they need. Within MTSS, we consider the academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs of all of our students - this is often called a “whole child” approach. In the past, educators might wait to see signs of struggle before providing support to a student. With MTSS, we create a robust assessment system so that we can intervene early and hopefully prevent students from falling behind in the first place.
MTSS provides various levels or tiers of support in order to create a system that help to ensure no student “falls through the cracks.” The first tier of support is called the universal tier. In this first tier, we focus on providing best, first instruction to all students with a focus on Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction to help meet the varying needs of students in any given classroom. The second tier, provides targeted and supplemental instruction and intervention for students who are not experiencing success with the first, universal level of support. This additional level of support takes on many forms including but not limited to small group instruction, push-in support, and/or pull-out support. Finally, some students may need even more support with the third tier. In this more intensive level of support, students may receive additional, more frequent, and/or more intensive individualized support based on their needs.
As a district, we are continuing our MTSS journey this year; indeed it is the type of journey that we embark upon knowing that we might not ever actually reach the destination. The process is more about continual improvement than attaining a predetermined goal. We remain committed to providing an equitable and just learning environment for all of our students and MTSS is one of the primary ways in which we are trying to achieve this.
If you would like additional information about MTSS, you may find the following resources helpful:
“What is MTSS?”: Article from Understood.org
“What is MTSS?”: Video in English