We asked 450 educators about MTSS. Here's what we found.

Multi Tiered Systems of Support, or MTSS, is a framework for meeting learners’ academic, behavioral, and social emotional needs. 

While frameworks share common components, the size of a school or district, the makeup of students, state and local policies, district priorities and resources, and more, shape the way MTSS is delivered in different schools and districts. To better understand these differences, we surveyed over 450 educators around the country about what MTSS is like in their schools and districts.

Below, you'll find what they shared, including their advice for MTSS teams, who leads MTSS, and why it's so important to improve Tier 1.

We hope these findings will support you on your MTSS journey. 

MTSS Teams

Teamwork makes the dream work when it comes to supporting student needs.

By including members from many different specialties and disciplines, MTSS teams can provide comprehensive support. When members offer different kinds of expertise, teams are better able to plan effective interventions, distribute resources, offer a variety of professional growth and development, and monitor student progress in different areas.

For example, a reading specialist who's familiar with the Science of Reading can recommended evidence based instructional strategies, and help choose an ELA curriculum. And an occupational therapist can help develop effective Tier 2 interventions for learners struggling to self-regulate in class.

Here's what we learned about MTSS teams:

86.8% of people said their school or district has an MTSS Team, and 32% said they didn’t.

Here's who makes up MTSS teams at different schools and districts:

  • Principals or Assistant Principals 79%
  • General Education Teachers 71%
  • MTSS Coordinator 59%
  • School Psychologist 50%
  • Reading Specialist 37%
  • Special Education Coordinator 30%
  • Math Specialist 25%
  • Speech and Language Pathologist 19%
  • English Learner Specialist 18%
  • Occupational Therapist 8%

Other interesting tidbits:

  • One educator told us that their school's MTSS team includes a representative from each grade. Another said that they serve on their district's MTSS team as an instructional coach to math teachers.
  • We also learned some districts have two different MTSS teams: a team for planning, and another for implementation. 
  • Another educator shared that their MTSS team has both a dedicated MTSS coordinator and a dedicated MTSS facilitator.

Who leads MTSS?

When it comes to leadership, an MTSS Coordinator or the principal/assistant principal heads up MTSS initiatives most of the time. 

Each of these roles made up about 45% of responses to this question, where people could choose more than one answer.

Other MTSS leadership included roles like school counselor (12%), school psychologist (8%), special education coordinator (6%), general education teacher (5%), and reading specialist (5%).

If resources allow, it's usually best for an MTSS initiative to be run by an MTSS coordinator.

They have the expertise and background to make it truly successful. MTSS coordinators know the ins and outs of MTSS, and can help ensure that all of its different pieces are implemented effectively. An MTSS coordinator should also have the leadership skills needed to bring together different specialists and make sure everyone is on the same page. A dedicated coordinator in a role dedicated only to MTSS helps ensure that MTSS gets the attention necessary for its success.

This benefits the students and school community as a whole.

Is MTSS separate from Special Education? 

For the most part, MTSS and Special Education are two completely separate programs. But sometimes MTSS teams and IEP teams work closely with each other.

For example, 8% of respondents said that services delivered under MTSS aren’t separate from special education services.

MTSS provides support to all learners, including those in special education and those who aren't. Collaboration between MTSS teams and IEP teams can help align interventions and resources to address student needs.

Ultimately, the goal is to help all students succeed.

Is assistive technology like text-to-speech included in MTSS?

Yes! 74% of people who responded said that accessible technology tools like text to speech is included in their MTSS.

Assistive technology can support students' learning and accessibility needs across all tiers of intervention. For example, at the universal tier, educators said that assistive technology tools help all learners access instructional materials and content.

In MTSS, all learners should be able to access Tier 1 instruction.

That includes learners receiving intervention at Tiers 2 and 3. And creating different points of access to Tier 1 may keep learners from needing higher-tiered interventions in the first place.

By integrating assistive technology into Tier 1, schools can ensure that students with diverse learning needs have equitable access to educational opportunities and supports.

“We are finding that students participating in Tiers 2 and 3 need that level of support because they have not previously been able to access, and benefit from, the general curriculum,” 

Dr. Tessie Bailey, advisor at the MTSS Center, in her recent webinar, Getting the Most out of MTSS.

"District wide literacy tools like Read&Write for Google and Learning Ally have helped provide students access to their curriculum. The students and teachers like the independence the supports offer."

Educators' Advice to MTSS Teams and Administrators: 9 Takeaways

We asked educators, "What would make MTSS implementation more effective in your school or district?"

Here's what they shared.

  1. "If everyone believed ALL kids could learn!"
  2. "It’s hard for teachers to balance so many students that are constantly moving between tiers."
  3. "More resources, consistency, and communication across the district. More training for teachers to be preventative and meet diverse needs."
  4. "Having a team that is solely dedicated to MTSS and not taking on multiple roles within the building."
  5. "More wide spread understanding of first, best and strategies that should be available to ALL students. Universal Design for Learning as a district wide initiative."
  6. "If accessibility was embedded in all instruction, Tier 1 intervention can be quickly achieved."
  7. "If they would purchase Read&Write for the entire district as a Tier 1 support."
  8. "Having related service providers, MTSS interventionists, and the special education department collaborate."
  9. "I think more use of Tier 1 supports would decrease the number of students needing Tier 2 & 3 supports. Sometimes very minimal supports are needed but the student has not been shown/given access to the right tools and, therefore, gets referred as a Tier 3."


Building a Tier 1 to help everyone

Our biggest learning while reading through educators' advice to MTSS Teams and Administrators was this: there is a pressing need to ensure Tier 1 access to an increasingly diverse range of learning needs.

It inspired us to find and interview outside experts, journalists, and researchers, dig deep into research, and create resources to support educators, administrators, and MTSS teams in building their best, most accessible Tier 1 possible.

Visit our Tier 1 is for Everyone page to discover expert-informed Tier 1 Guides that cover improving literacy at Tier 1, delivering instruction that's accessible to all learners, and including multilingual learners in general education classrooms.

Together, we can build stronger and more inclusive systems to support all learners. 

Your strongest Tier 1: Expert-informed guides

With quick tips for general educators, considerations for MTSS teams and administrators, and an overflowing resource section, these downloadable, research-supported guides are perfect for anyone looking to improve Tier 1 instruction in their classroom, school, or district.