Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

What is MTSS?
Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is a format for organizing school staff and resources to meet the needs of all kinds of children – those who do well, and those who may need an extra boost. Services are provided in levels, from regular classroom instruction, to small groups, to highly individualized interventions. Help can be provided with academics, behavior, or both.

  • How MTSS Resources Are Managed
    Teams meet on a scheduled basis to review data and make decisions about how students are progressing. Team members include:
    • Teachers
    • Intervention Providers
    • Administrators
    • Other Professionals
  • How MTSS Data is Collected
    Data is collected for screening, progress monitoring, diagnostic assessment and program evaluation.
    • New state assessments, interim assessments, and district assessments are currently being designed and selected to add to our understanding of students.

The Tiers in MTSS are three levels of service that provide increasing amounts of support.

Tier 1

  • Includes all students within a school
  • Focus is on prevention
  • Short screening tests may be used to evaluate how the grade level is doing, and identify individual students who might need extra help
  • Class grades, previous tests, and other records may help identify students for assistance 
  • Grade and team meetings provide a structure to review data and make decisions together

Tier 2

  • Primary level of intervention
  • Small groups are formed around students with similar needs
  • Strategies and programs with demonstrated track records are used
  • New scores and test data are collected as often as once a week, or once a month, to evaluate whether or not the program is working for that student
  • An intervention that is not producing gains can be intensified or even changed 
  • Older students often need to spend much longer in an intervention to demonstrate an impact

Tier 3

  • Individualized interventions
  • Provided to students who continue to struggle despite work at Tier II

MTSS is a continuing cycle during the school year, and even between school years. Information about the student’s skills is used to determine when the intervention is successful, or when it needs to be changed or intensified. 

  • Screening Measures
    A variety of short tests or data review techniques are used to check on the progress of all students within a building. These can include screening tests like DIBELS, AIMSweb or math screeners. They can also include reviews of existing information, such as discipline records, current grades, or test results from previous years. 
  • Interventions are planned to target skill areas.
  • Monitoring
    Just like screening, this includes a wide range of activities to measure how a student is performing. Short, repeatable tests fall into this category, as well as grades and intervention program records.
  • Teams determine if intervention is successful, needs to continue3, or if it needs to be more intense.

How Can Parents Help?
Being involved and supportive is the number one job of parents and families.

  • Communicate with teachers and intervention providers.
  • Ask about the data and how it is changing.
  • Ask what activities you could do at home to support needed skills.
  • Ensure that your student eats a healthy diet, gets plenty of exercise, and rests well.

Is MTSS Special Education?
No. Special Education is a federally-mandated set of programs and services that are available for students with specific disabilities. In contrast, MTSS interventions are available to all students. Although some MTSS services are delivered by certified special education staff, students in MTSS programs are not receiving special education services.

  • Most students are successful with interventions at Tier II or III.
  • An eligibility determination and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are required to receive ongoing special education services.

Work on Response to Intervention (RtI) and MTSS has been supported through grants from MiBLSI (Michigan’s Behavior and Learning Support Initiative) from the Michigan Department of Education. For more information, visit their website:


GHAPS receives technical assistance from the National Center on Intensive Intervention at the American Institutes for Research in Washington D.C. Information on making interventions stronger is available on their website:



For assistance through your school’s MTSS program, please contact your student’s teacher or principal. Information call also be obtained from:

Amanda Sorrelle
Rodney Teeple
School Psychologist
Constance Maciejewski
School Social Worker