A Multi-Tiered System of Support is a data-driven, problem-solving framework to improve outcomes for all students. MTSS relies on a continuum of evidence-based practices matched to student needs. PBIS is an example of MTSS centered on social behavior.
Three Tiers of Support
MTSS emerged as a framework from the work conducted in public health emphasizing three tiers of prevention. Schools apply this model as a way to align academic, behavioral, social, and emotional supports to improve education for all students. It’s important to remember these tiers refer to levels of support students receive, not to students themselves. Students receive Tier 2 support; they are not Tier 2 students.
Tier 1: Universal Prevention (All)
Tier 1 supports serve as the foundation for behavior and academics. Schools provide this universal support to all students. For most students, the core program gives them what they need to be successful and to prevent future problems.
Tier 2: Targeted Prevention (Some)
This level of support focuses on improving specific skill deficits students have. Schools often provide Tier 2 support to groups of students with similar targeted needs. Providing support to a group of students provides more opportunities for practice and feedback while keeping the intervention maximally efficient. Students may need some assessment to identify whether they need this level of support and which skills to address. Tier 2 supports help students develop the skills they need to benefit from core programs at the school.
Tier 3: Intensive, Individualized Prevention (Few)
Tier 3 support is the most intensive support the school offers. These support requirements are the most resource-intensive due to the individualized approach of developing and carrying out interventions. At this level, schools typically rely on formal assessments to determine a student’s needs and to develop an individualized support plan. Student plans often include goals related to both academics as well as behavior support.