Essential Components of MTSS


Universal Screening uses a systematic process for identifying students who may be at risk for poor learning outcomes, including academic, behavioral, social, emotional, school completion, and college and career readiness outcomes. Screening data can also be used to identify schools that need support due to large numbers of struggling students. The universal screening process depends on access to and use of data connected to reliable and valid indicators of the desired outcome within the selected grade levels. To ensure accuracy of the data, educators follow initial screening with additional testing or short-term progress monitoring to confirm students’ risk status. With screening, teams select valid and reliable indicators, monitor and ensure fidelity of implementation, and use data to identify students at-risk and improve Tier 1 implementation and impact. The screening process should reflect cultural and linguistic responsiveness and recognition of student needs and strengths.

Multi-level Prevention System

The multi-level prevention system includes three tiers of intensity for instruction, intervention, and supports. Tier 1 includes high-quality, schoolwide academic, social, emotional and behavioral programming and supports designed to meet the needs of all students. At Tier 2, schools provide small group, standardized academic interventions or targeted behavioral or mental health supports using validated intervention programs to support students identified as at-risk. Tier 3 includes intensive intervention for students not responding to Tier 2 through instruction and supports that are intensified and individualized based on student need. At all levels, attention should be on selection of evidence-based practices and fidelity of implementation, with consideration for cultural and linguistic responsiveness and recognition of student strengths.

Progress Monitoring

At the student level, progress monitoring is used to assess students’ performance, to quantify a student's rate of improvement or responsiveness to instruction or intervention, and to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction using valid and reliable measures. In addition, across all levels of the system sites monitor progress to provide feedback for improvement. With progress monitoring, teams use valid and reliable tools, and focus on fidelity of implementation for interventions, with consideration for cultural and linguistic responsiveness and recognition of student strengths.

Data-Based Decision Making 

Data analysis and decision making occur at all levels of MTSS implementation, from individual students to the district level. Teams use screening and progress monitoring data to make decisions about instruction, movement within the multi-level prevention system, intensification of instruction and supports, and identification of students with disabilities (in accordance with state law). Teams use implementation data to evaluate the extent to which their assessments, interventions, and supports have been implemented as intended and identify areas of improvement.