When it comes to education nowadays, a multi-tier approach is the most effective way of ensuring that every student gets the best possible education according to their specific needs. That’s why MTSS, also known as a ‘multi-tiered system of support’ has become a popular concept in this sector. This framework is becoming increasingly popular within U.S. schools, because it offers targeted support to students who are struggling, and provides tailored education that helps them overcome challenges.
What is MTSS in education?
MTSS helps educators and schools intervene early and help students struggling with things like ADHD, dyslexia, autistic disorders, anxiety, and other afflictions, reach their academic potential. MTSS, along with other frameworks and concepts such as culturally-responsive teaching, helps create an inclusive classroom where general education students can learn alongside children with special education needs.
Research has shown that mixed, inclusive classrooms help special education children reach their full potential, by developing communication skills and building their self-confidence. Students in an inclusive classroom feel included and accepted, while the general education students in the same classroom will learn the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and empathy.
MTSS plays a big role in creating inclusive classrooms, because it allows children with different education needs thrive, without having to be singled out or placed in special classrooms or schools. They can continue to evolve and learn at the same pace with everyone else in the classroom, the only difference coming from a differentiated support system implemented that works on tiers. What does this mean?
What does an MTSS framework entail?
MTSS, or multi-tiered support systems, support more than a child’s academic growth. Such systems focus also on their behavior, their social needs, and their emotional needs, with the goal of reducing absenteeism and improving their involvement at school, on every level. The framework relies on tiers, and every tier goes a little further and offers more support for the child in need.
MTSS might be confused with RTI, or response to intervention, but it is a much more comprehensive framework that also includes the concepts and tiers of support used in RTI.
Tier 1 – focuses on the entire class, which consists of only general education students. Teachers use proven teaching methods that work for the entire classroom as a whole, or methods that separate the students based on their skill level, their strengths, or areas where they need improvement.
Tier 2 – students who are struggling in Tier 1 activities can move up to Tier 2 of the MTSS framework. While most lessons continue to focus on the classroom as a whole, these students get more targeted, specific support in smaller group lessons that focus on the areas where they’re struggling. These small groups of students benefit from special, more focused support that aims to help them improve and ultimately return to Tier 1.
Tier 3 – Students who aren’t making progress or continue to struggle in Tier 2 of the MTSS framework may move up to the third and final tier – although most schools rely on a three-tier MTSS system, some schools prefer to work with four tiers. This third tier basically consists of individualized, super-focused support that is provided either in very small groups, or through individual lessons. Children in Tier 3 will continue to attend general education lessons, but they will also participate in individual lessons and small group exercises, as well.
What kind of support does MTSS provide?
Besides the three levels of support that focus on the whole classroom, smaller groups, and individual lessons, MTSS provides other types of support that goes far beyond the academic realm, such as:
- Screening for all students every school year, to establish the level of skill and support required
- Targeted support for each student that is struggling, based on their specific skills and needs
- Support from teachers, counselors, psychologists, and other specialists like the ones working within Da Vinci Collaborative
- Regular assessments and evaluations to identify areas of struggle or opportunities for improvement
- Integrated plans to address the students’ academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs
- Family involvement, providing information and support for parents and caregivers, as well as tips and strategies to use at home
- Professional development for school staff on a regular basis
- Constant monitoring of students’ progress to provide early intervention and tailored education plans
- Resources and opportunities for further research to ensure that the staff is always up-to-date on the latest tools and strategies in the field.
Learn more about multi-tiered support systems, response-to-intervention strategies, and the benefits of inclusive classrooms by reaching out to Da Vinci Collaborative. Our expert counselors and educators are always working with teachers, superintendents, and schools to figure out the best, most innovative ways of ensuring that every child gets the best possible education, regardless of their individual challenges or difficulties.