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Multi-Tiered System of Supports

What is MTSS?

A multi-tiered delivery system that uses a data-driven problem-solving model to identify specific student need and match appropriate instructional strategies.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is defined as a comprehensive system of supports that in the Commonwealth includes:

  • Standards-aligned, culturally responsive and high quality core instruction
  • Universal screening
  • Data-based decision-making
  • Tiered services and supports
  • Parental engagement
  • Central/building level leadership
  • Professional development
  • Use of RtII for SLD determination via PDE’s approval process

Simply put, PA-MTSS represents a broad set of evidence-based practices that may be implemented across a system to include Academics AND Behavior within a recursive and systematic problem-solving process. PA-MTSS is intended to help ALL students meet with continual academic and behavioral success.

What are the key components of the MTSS Framework?

A key component of MTSS is that all children receive high quality curriculum and instruction in the general education classroom (Tier l).  At Agora, we use the K12 curriculum and our highly qualified teachers use research based methods to deliver instruction.

Another component of MTSS is that the school conducts universal screenings. Universal screenings review the performance and progress of all students through brief assessments. Universal screenings help schools identify students who may need more support or other types of instruction.  Our universal screening tools this year will be AIMSweb at the Kindergarten through second grade level and CDT at grades 3 through 12.  Most students will take these benchmark exams 3 times per year.

As a result of universal screenings, students may be identified as needing targeted intervention (Tier ll) in addition to the high quality instruction they are receiving in Tier l. Research based interventions are used to support students in the area(s) in which they are struggling. Research based interventions are teaching methods and/or online programs that have been proven effective in helping children learn.

Another key component of MTSS is progress monitoring. Progress monitoring is a way for teachers to take a snapshot of how children are doing on specific skills between the universal screenings. It shows how well the intervention is working. It includes formal and informal assessments. Progress monitoring helps determine whether an intervention is successful or needs to be changed. This information is shared with parents on a regular basis.

When progress monitoring indicates that the intervention is no longer needed, the child continues to receive support from the general education curriculum (Tier I).  When progress monitoring shows that a child is not responding to the intervention, another approach or a different intervention may be tried. If a higher level of support is needed, students may be given more intense intervention that further focuses on the supporting skills they need to be successful learners (Tier lll). Students who do not respond to Tier III interventions may be referred for special education.

What does the MTSS Framework look like?

The MTSS Framework has three tiers. Each tier provides differing levels of support.  Students at Agora are given a tier for reading and a tier for math.

  • In Tier l, all students receive research-based, high quality, general education instruction that incorporates ongoing universal screening and ongoing assessment to inform instruction.
  • In Tier ll, intervention is implemented when assessment indicates that a student is not making adequate gains from Tier I instruction alone. In addition to Tier I instruction, students are provided small group interventions designed to meet their specific needs. These students are progress monitored once a month using a tool that is sensitive to measuring changes in the student’s individual skills.
  • In Tier III, more intensive interventions are provided to students who have not made significant progress in Tier II, who are more than 1.5 grade levels behind, or who are below the 10th percentile. These students are progress monitored every other week using a tool that is sensitive to measuring changes in the student’s individual skills.

What if I think my child needs special education?

If at any time parents become concerned that their child needs special education, they should contact their child’s teacher or administrator. Other forms of evaluation, in addition to information gathered through the MTSS framework, are needed to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. In order for these evaluations to be conducted, a parent’s written consent is required.

Here are a few ways parents can support what their child is doing in school:

  • Make reading an everyday habit a home
  • Communicate with your child’s teacher
  • Monitor and assist with homework assignments
  • Review progress monitoring data
  • Share your child’s successes
  • Learn more about the curricula and interventions being used in your child’s school
  • Attend parent/teacher conferences and other school meeting about your child

Talk to your child’s teacher for more information about how MTSS is being implemented in your child’s classroom.   Here is a guide to some of the programs/services that you may see for your students.  Your child’s specific programs/services will be provided to meet their individual needs.


MTSS Umbrella

For more information, please contact:


Adapted from: A Parent Advocacy Brief written by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)