Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a collaborative, evidence-based, approach to differentiating and personalizing instruction and intervention, across academics and behavior for all students—so that every student can achieve academic and life success.
At Tier 2, students identified as being at-risk academically or behaviorally through universal screeners are provided scientific, research-based interventions in addition to the core. Approximately 5-15% of students will need supplemental instruction at Tier 2 to become proficient. Tier 2 interventions are implemented with groups of students demonstrating common skill deficits or social/emotional/behavioral risk characteristics. These students can be observed on the Branching Minds platform, where a collaborative intervention plan is developed, monitored, and documented.
At Tier 1, all students receive scientific, research-based core instruction implemented with integrity and emphasizing grade-level standards and school-wide behavioral expectations. Instruction at Tier 1 should be explicit, differentiated and include flexible grouping and active student engagement. To ensure 80% of students’ needs are met at Tier 1, high quality instruction is essential. Features of high quality, research-based instruction include (Chard et al., 2008):
A formative assessment is a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of a student’s status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics (Popham, 2008). To build an effective system, Tier 1 instruction may look different from school to school depending on the predominant needs of their population (e.g., LEP, FRL, Gifted). For example, one school may require intensive ESL support as a part of Tier 1 instruction to meet the 80 percent criterion and another school may require enrichment to ensure progress for high-achieving and/or gifted students as a part of Tier 1 instruction. For those schools that meet the 80 percent criterion, it is still essential to examine the effectiveness of the core and ensure growth of all students.
The purpose of monitoring progress is to determine the effectiveness of an intervention plan on student learning. When data show students are progressing, interventions are maintained until students meet identified goals. When data show students are not progressing, a change in intervention is necessary (Fuchs, Compton, Fuchs & Davis, 2008). When changes are made to intervention plans based on data, intervention or phase lines should be placed on student graphs to indicate the change. Students receiving Tier 2 support should be assessed weekly or every other week, while students receiving Tier 3 support should be assessed weekly.
The term English Language Learners (ELLs) refers to students whose first language is not English, and encompasses both students who are just beginning to learn English (often referred to in federal legislation as "limited English proficient" or "LEP") and those who have already developed considerable proficiency.
The term underscores the fact that, in addition to meeting all the academic challenges that face their monolingual peers, these students are mastering another language. Branching Minds takes students' ELL level into account when collecting the Branching Minds Insight Survey, as well as recommending interventions and accommodations matched to their needs.
Students who have not demonstrated progress with targeted group interventions at Tier 2 require more time in more intensive interventions. Tier 3 interventions are distinguished from Tier 2 interventions because they are individualized based on data collected in individual problem solving, occur with smaller student-teacher ratios (e.g., ideally 1-on-1, however, groups of 3 to 5 students or a larger group broken into a few groups of 3-5 students, is acceptable for middle and high schools), and possibly occur for a longer duration of time (e.g., more daily minutes or more weeks spent in intervention). About 5-10% of students will require this level of intensive support.