Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

Some students need more support than others. Using a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a way to help students who are struggling with learning. Many school districts in Ohio and nationally use MTSS. What is it?

MTSS is a system for organizing and giving extra help to students who are experiencing difficulties. It also provides ways to decide if the extra help is working.

As the diagram below illustrates, MTSS frameworks provide three levels of support. The first level is Tier 1—the supports that are already (or can become) part of core classroom instruction. Sometimes a student or small group of students needs even more support. MTSS calls that support Tier 2 (or “targeted”). The most intensive support is Tier 3. It is often more individualized than Tier 2 support.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) pyramid

A tiered system of support such as MTSS can help children who struggle with decoding. Often these children have difficulty with phonological awareness skills. Finding ways to review these skills through core classroom instruction works for many such students. Students with persistent gaps in the skills productive of phonological awareness benefit from review, perhaps with a small group of other students who have similar needs (Tier 2). And some may even need support for longer periods of time or using more specialized techniques (Tier 3).