MTSS What???

The Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) definition of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) provides a basis for understanding how Colorado educators can work together to ensure equitable access and opportunity for all students to achieve the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). MTSS includes Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) as well as additional, distinct philosophies and concepts. Colorado is not the only state moving towards this model.

Within Colorado, there are six Essential Components in the Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework.

  • Shared Leadership
  • Data-Based Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Layered Continuum of Supports
  • Evidence Based Instruction, Intervention, and Assessment Practices
  • Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring
  • Family, School, and Community Partnering (FSCP)

CDE’s Definition of MTSS

In Colorado, MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on CCSS, core instruction, differentiated learning, student-centered learning, individualized student needs, and the alignment of systems necessary for all students’ academic, behavioral, and social success. Colorado has a long history of providing numerous systems of support. These include the interventions within the RtI2 processes, supports including Special Education, Second Language Learners and gifted and talented programs. MTSS offers the potential to create needed systematic change through intentional design and redesign of services and supports that quickly identify and match the needs of all students.

Comparing MTSS to RtI2

CDE’s RtI2 processes focus on students who are struggling and provide a vehicle for teamwork and data-based decision making to strengthen their performances before and after educational and behavioral problems increase in intensity.

MTSS Differences with RtI2

MTSS has a broader scope than does RtI2. MTSS also includes:

  • Focusing on aligning the entire system of initiatives, supports, and resources.
  • Promoting district participation in identifying and supporting systems for alignment of resources, as well as site and grade level.
  • Systematically addressing support for all students, including gifted and high achievers.
  • Enabling a paradigm shift for providing support and setting higher expectations for all students through intentional design and redesign of integrated services and supports, rather than selection of a few components of RtI and intensive interventions.
  • Endorsing Universal Design for Learning instructional strategies so all students have opportunities for learning through differentiated content, processes, and product.
  • Integrating instructional and intervention support so that systemic changes are sustainable and based on CCSS-aligned classroom instruction.
  • Challenging all school staff to change the way in which they have traditionally worked across all school settings.

MTSS is not designed for consideration in special education placement decisions, such as specific learning disabilities. MTSS focuses on all students in education contexts.

MTSS Similarities to RtI2

MTSS incorporates many of the same components of RtI2, such as

  • Supporting high-quality standards and research-based, culturally and linguistically relevant instruction with the belief that every student can learn including students of poverty, students with disabilities, English learners, and students from all ethnicities evident in the school and district cultures.
  • Integrating a data collection and assessment system, including universal screening, diagnostics and progress monitoring, to inform decisions appropriate for each tier of service delivery.
  • Relying on a problem-solving systems process and method to identify problems, develop interventions and, evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in a multi-tiered system of service delivery.
  • Seeking and implementing appropriate research-based interventions for improving student learning.
  • Using school-wide and classroom research-based positive behavioral supports for achieving important social and learning outcomes.
  • Implementing a collaborative approach to analyze student data and working together in the intervention process.

MTSS and RtI2

The similarities and differences between Colorado’s MTSS and RtI2 processes. Both rely on RtI2’s data gathering through universal screening, data-driven decision making, problem-solving teams, and are focused on the CCSS. However, the MTSS process has a broader approach, addressing the needs of all students by aligning the entire system of initiatives, supports, and resources, and by implementing continuous improvement processes at all levels of the system.

My take away from this shift is that MTSS was created to provide enrichment and support for ALL learners. Whereas with RTI it was just those students who were not there closing achievement gaps.

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