Who benefits from MTSS?

Click on a myth to reveal the truth.

Myth: MTSS is just Tier 2 & Tier 3 interventions for students who struggle.

Truth: Tier 2 and 3 interventions are part of an effective multi-tiered system of supports. In an efficient system, Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions are delivered to approximately 20% of students; however, a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) includes a structured problem-solving process which drives the delivery of multiple tiers of instruction and intervention. This includes ensuring the effectiveness of Tier 1, which is the foundation of a multi-tiered system of supports.

Myth: Teachers only provide MTSS interventions to students they think may need special education.

Truth: The goal of providing interventions is not to find students eligible for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services but to increase successful educational outcomes by matching interventions to student needs. Interventions should be provided at the first sign of need and should be provided at increasing intensity regardless of potential future eligibility considerations.

Myth: Students have to get through Tier 1 and Tier 2 before they can get Tier 3.

Truth: Within an MTSS, students are provided interventions based on their identified need. If a student is receiving only Tier 1 instruction and is identified as performing significantly below where he or she would be expected to be performing based on his or her grade level, the student does not need to first receive Tier 2 interventions for a period of time before they receiving Tier 3 intervention supports. A team may also decide that a student be provided Tier 2 (small group interventions) and Tier 3 (individualized interventions) supports immediately and simultaneously. Students are monitored frequently, and if they are progressing, the level of supports provided to students is gradually reduced so that he or she can maintain success given the general education instruction and supports (Tier 1). In other words, it is the degree of student need that drives the level of supports provided to a student.

Myth: We don’t have a lot of students who need Tier 2, but we do have a lot of students who need Tier 3.

Truth: Within an MTSS, some students will need additional or supplemental Tier 2 interventions to achieve successful outcomes. Even with the additional support provided, there would still be a small number (about 5%) of students who need intensive, individualized supports (Tier 3). A school does not have enough resources to provide large numbers of students with effective Tier 3 interventions and supports; therefore, it is important for schools to ensure they are providing varying intensities of supports that match student need. If too many students in a system need Tier 2 or Tier 3 supports, the focus of planning and problem solving should address the effectiveness of instruction in Tier 1.

Myth: Students who are already receiving ESE services do not get help through MTSS.

Truth: All students within a school, including students with disabilities, are provided Tier 1 academic and behavioral instruction, including evidence-based instructional routines, differentiated small group instruction, and curriculum materials aligned to standards, etc. In addition, all students, including students with disabilities, have access to Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention supports that are matched to their needs. A student receiving ESE services will benefit from the schoolwide MTSS, wherein they will be provided supports at all tiers, and their progress will be monitored to ensure the supports they are receiving are effective.