What Is a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)?
A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a term used to describe an evidence- based model of schooling that uses data-based problem-solving to integrate academic and behavioral instruction and intervention. The integrated instruction and intervention is delivered to students in varying intensities (multiple tiers) based on student need. “Need-driven” decision-making seeks to ensure that district resources reach the appropriate students (schools) at the appropriate levels to accelerate the performance of ALL students to achieve and/or exceed proficiency.
The MTSS framework utilizes a 3-tier approach to provide ALL students with the best opportunities to succeed academically and behaviorally in school. MTSS focuses on:
- providing high quality instruction and interventions matched to student need.
- monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals.
- using data-based decision making to allocate supports to improve student learning.
- supporting staff implementation of effective evidenced-based practices.
- implementing a problem solving model as the underlying mechanism for positive change
Tier 1 is what “ALL” students get in the form of instruction (academic and behavior/social-emotional) and student supports. Tier 1 focuses on the implementation of the district’s Core Curriculum. Tier 1 services (time and focus) are based on the needs of the students in a particular school. Some schools require more time than other schools in particular core curriculum areas based on student demographics (readiness, language, economic factors) and student performance levels to ensure that all students reach and/or exceed state proficiency levels.
Tier 2 is what “some” students receive in addition to Tier 1 instruction. The purpose of Tier 2 instruction and supports is to improve student performance under Tier 1 performance expectations (levels and conditions of performance). Tier 2 services are more “intense” (more time, narrow focus of instruction/intervention) than Tier 1. Tier 2 services can be provided by a variety of professionals (e.g., general education and/or remedial teachers, behavior specialists) in any setting (general education classroom, separate settings, home).
Tier 3 is what “few” students receive and is the most intense service level a school can provide to a student. Typically, Tier 3 services are provided to very small groups and/or individual students. The purpose of Tier 3 services is to help students overcome significant barriers to learning academic and/or behavior skills required for school success. Tier 3 services require more time and a more narrow focus of instruction/intervention than Tier 2 services. Tier 3 services require effective levels of collaboration and coordination among the staff (general and specialized) providing services to the student. The expected outcome of Tier 3 services, combined with Tiers 1 and 2, is that the student(s) will achieve Tier 1 proficiency levels (academic and/or behavior) established by the district.
MTSS Informational Links:
School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (SW-PBIS) is a framework or approach comprised of intervention practices and organizational systems for establishing the social culture, learning and teaching environment, and the individual behavior supports needed to achieve academic and social success for all students. SW-PBIS is also known as Universal and/or Tier 1 supports. Decades of converging research have consistently demonstrated that these strategies are individually and collectively effective and efficient. In addition, SW-PBIS has relevant applications to educating ALL students.
Characteristics of SW-PBIS schools include:
- a common purpose and approach to discipline
- a clear set of school-wide behavioral expectations
- procedures for teaching school-wide expectations
- a continuum of procedures to encourage appropriate behavior and discourage inappropriate behavior on-going monitoring and evaluation procedures
Improved School Environments
A key feature of SW-PBIS is building a safe and supportive school environment. School environment is often referred to as school climate. “School climate refers to factors that contribute to the tone in schools, and the attitudes of staff and students toward their schools. Positive school climate is associated with well-managed classrooms and common areas, high and clearly stated expectations concerning individual responsibility, feeling safe at school, and teachers and staff that consistently acknowledge all students and fairly address their behavior” (Spier, Cai, & Osher, 2007, pg 1). Research has demonstrated a link between positive school climate and healthy child development, effective risk prevention efforts, academic achievement, and increased graduation rates (Thapa, A., Cohen, J., Guffey, S., & Higgins-D’Alessandro, A., 2013).
Following the PBIS philosophy, staff are responsible for creating an environment where students succeed behaviorally and academically. This is accomplished by systematically designing the environment to reduce behavior triggers, clearly defining schoolwide behavior expectations, developing procedures for teaching the expected behaviors, consistently reinforcing positive behavior, and developing clear disciplinary procedures known by staff and students alike.
Tier 1 SW-PBIS Resources
PBIS Informational Links:
What Is PBIS In The Classroom?
PBIS in the classroom is a microcosm of SW-PBIS. Commonly known as classroom behavior management, more and more schools are redefining and adapting their school wide approach to discipline, culture and climate to the classroom environment.
Why focus on PBIS in the Classroom?
- As disruptive student behavior decreases, teaching time increases, allowing all children to learn more.
- As behavior problems decrease, teachers are free to address other needs like supporting instruction.
- Learning to behave appropriately is correlated with doing better academically.
“Big Ideas” of PBIS in the Classroom:
- Classroom management is a microcosm of Schoolwide
- Classroom environment needs to be purposefully engineered to promote successful student behavior
- Student behavior needs to be taught directly using same process as academic skills
- We can’t expect students to engage in a behavior that they do not know how to do
Components of PBIS in the Classroom:
- Maximize Structure and Predictability in the Classroom
- Teach Classroom Rules and Routines
- Actively Engage Students
- Acknowledge Appropriate Behavior
- Correct Behavior Errors Fluently
PBIS in the Classroom Resources:
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mental Health
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful.
Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen, and worker. Many risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying, and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced when multiyear, integrated efforts are used to develop students’ social and emotional skills. This is best done through effective classroom instruction, student engagement in positive activities in and out of the classroom, and broad parent and community involvement in program planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school.
Social and Emotional Learning Core Competencies can include Self-awareness; Self-management; Social awareness;
Relationship skills and Responsible decision making.
Mental health among children and adolescents is a growing national concern and schools have taken center stage in efforts to prevent problems and promote wellness. Research supports the integration of mental health services with other initiatives and frameworks currently being implemented within schools today. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are 2 of the most widely adopted, evidence-based approaches that have been advocated to address student mental health.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mental Health Resources:
Some students will respond to the Tier 1 level of support but will still exhibit some specific difficulties. These students may be demonstrating academic and/or behavioral deficits that will require more intensive supports. Tier 2 interventions can be effective in working with students at-risk for academic and/or behavioral concerns.
Secondary interventions rest on the foundation of Tier 1 school-wide and classroom systems. Without school-wide prevention, we can’t reliably identify students in need of targeted interventions. Tier 1 systems must be in place and used consistently and with fidelity by all staff. To correctly identify which students are in need of more intensive supports and what types of supports they need, the SW-PBIS leadership team assists staff in reviewing data. Typically schools decide on a set of data-decision rules for identification. For instance a school may decide that once any student has received a certain number of office discipline referrals (perhaps 2-5), that student’s referrals will be automatically reviewed to determine what types, locations and times of referrals. Other referral sources could include teachers or families, counselor reports, or student-reported concerns.
Tier 2 SW-PBIS Resources
Tier 3 is what “few” students receive and is the most intense service level a school can provide to a student. Typically, Tier 3 services are provided to very small groups and/or individual students.
The purpose of Tier 3 services is to help students overcome significant barriers to learning academic and/or behavior skills required for school success. Tier 3 services require more time and a more narrow focus of instruction/intervention than Tier 2 services.
Tier 3 services require effective levels of collaboration and coordination among the staff (general and specialized) providing services to the student. The expected outcome of Tier 3 services, combined with Tiers 1 and 2, is that the student(s) will achieve Tier 1 proficiency levels (academic and/or behavior) established by the district.