Multi-Tiered Support Approach: How All Classrooms Respond to the Needs of All Students
At Ardsley, we strive to help every student reach their potential through high-quality instruction combined with a tiered and targeted intervention that matches individual needs. This Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is a problem-solving process that helps teachers, parents, and students identify specific academic and behavioral needs that may impact student performance.
The MTSS approach recognizes that students do not all start in the same place or learn at the same rate. By intervening early and often, the MTSS approach ensures that small gaps do not become insurmountable and that gaps and moments of struggle are supported fully.
The MTSS approach is not considered special education services. While the two programs have similarities in their approach, the MTSS process is designed to occur before a referral to special education.
The Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework requires regular assessment of student progress, level of performance, and learning rate over time. MTSS uses various screening and progress monitoring tools to determine if students are meeting the standards and provides tiered levels of intervention and intensity, depending on student needs.
If you would like more support for your child’s learning needs, please contact your child's teacher pro principal, who can help you start the MTSS process. Also see the additional resource below to learn more about how the process works.
Defining the Three Tiers of Intervention
Tier 1: Active Learning Environments with High-Quality Instruction/Classroom Intervention
In the classroom setting, teachers provide high-quality, research-based, and differentiated instruction for all students as part of Tier 1 of the MTSS process. Students participate in whole class and small group lessons to meet their needs. Instruction, standards, curriculum, resources, and assessments are aligned and designed to reach the widest range of learners. Tier 1 interventions can happen within lessons or during designated time blocks created for targeted interventions and what has traditionally been called “extra help.” Tier 1 instruction is what 80%-100% of students require to meet grade-level expectations in a given school year.
Tier 2: Strategic Intervention
In addition to Tier 1 intervention, students who are unable to meet grade-level standards may be eligible for Tier 2 intervention. Tier 2 interventions are implemented in a small-group setting by a classroom teacher or a specialist approximately three times a week for 30 minutes each. The goal of Tier 2 interventions is to provide students with supplemental small-group instruction targeting their specific needs. In addition, behavior may be a factor in Tier 2 intervention because it often impacts academic performance and/or rate of learning. Tier 2 is intended for 10-15% of students who show a discrepancy in their academic performance and/or learning rate when compared to grade-level standards.
Tier 3: Intensive Intervention:
Students receive Tier 3 interventions in addition to Tier 1 as well as Tier 2 interventions (when they are practicable). Tier 3 interventions are more targeted and tend to be given 1:1 or in very small groups to ensure the highest degree of personalized attention. These interventions are provided for students who are at significant risk of academic failure but do not necessarily qualify for special education services. Behavior can often be a factor in academic performance and/or the rate of learning, so it is likely to be a factor in Tier 3 interventions.
Using a Problem-Solving Approach
When a student struggles in class, it can be challenging for students, teachers, and parents to determine the next steps. Communication of concerns can and should be initiated by any stakeholder. This communication works best when all parties take a problem-solving approach. As a team, this approach empowers everyone to confront, describe and address an issue in a timely way. This approach not only avoids counterproductive activities but also enables stakeholders to see the problem being addressed and results coming to fruition, at all levels of tiers 1 through 3. If you would like more support with your child’s learning needs, please contact your child's teacher pro principal who can help you start the MTSS process.
Step 1: Identifying the Problem
Defining the problem by understanding the difference(s) between what is expected and what is occurring in terms of performance and/or the rate of learning. Ask, “What specifically do we expect students to know and be able to do as compared to what we are seeing?” When engaging at the level of the individual, the team should strive to describe the observations with accuracy and specificity. “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”
Step 2: Understanding Why the Problem is Occurring
Analyze the problem using data to determine what issue is occurring. This includes understanding the academic issue and the potential for behavioral issues to be contributing to the problem. This analysis generates hypotheses as to why there exists difference(s) between what is expected and what is occurring in terms of performance and/or the rate of learning. Data can also serve to help identify valid and non-valid hypotheses and therefore lead to designing better solutions. “Why is the desired outcome not occurring?”
Step 3: Identifying and Describing What Needs to be Done
Develop and implement a plan based on the team’s problem analysis. This plan should address all of the identified causes, be time-bound, and should predict what improvement should look like. This plan, while individual for the student, can be incorporated into a group plan for students working on similar areas of need. This plan should include when the work will happen, how often, with what materials, and with what measurements over time. “What specifically are we going to do? And how will we accomplish this in the time we have?”
Step 4: Is the plan working?
Measure the student’s response to the plan over time with the goal of adjusting plans as needed depending on the results. This “progress monitoring” should directly address and reflect the targeting learning and/or behavior goals. “Is the plan working? What adjustments can be made if it is not?”