The Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model is a comprehensive, instructional approach that addresses closing achievement gaps and providing high-quality differentiated instruction in all academic areas to all students. This model has formerly been referred to as Response to Intervention (RtI).
As defined by the National Center on Response to Intervention (2010), MTSS is a system of instruction, assessment and intervention within a multi-tiered prevention system designed to: (1) maximize student achievement and appropriate social and emotional learning and (2) address the needs of those students who have already mastered the curriculum.
Using MTSS, our SD 308 schools:
identify at an early stage those students at-risk for poor learning outcomes and those students in need of enrichment;
monitor student progress;
provide evidence-based interventions; and
adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student‘s responsiveness.
Illinois Special Education Code (23 Illinois Administrative Code 226.130) requires school districts to use a process that determines how a child responds to scientific, evidence-based interventions as part of the evaluation procedures to determine special education eligibility under the category of specific learning disability (SLDs). While this requirement is specific to SLDs, districts also have the option of using this approach as part of the evaluation procedures for other disability categories.
Data collection through repeated assessments of achievement (referred to as “progress monitoring”) is essential to provide a thorough student profile as part of the MTSS model. Through progress monitoring, collected data can depict:
(1) If a student is not making sufficient progress in comparison with his/her peer group [What is the discrepancy of the student’s performance with the peer group and/or standard?],
(2) If a student needs ongoing or additional support [What is the student’s educational progress as measured by rate of improvement?], and/or
(3) If a student has a skill deficit [What are the instructional needs of the student?.]
Findings supplied through the MTSS process do not mean an automatic recommendation for special education services. However, data acquired via progress monitoring can be used during a meeting with a student’s guardian to determine if the findings are sufficient or if additional information is needed (ISBE Special Education and Support Services, 2012).
The MTSS model also addresses previous criticisms in special education on issues such as over-identification of students with learning disabilities, overrepresentation of minorities in special education and reliability and variability of identification rates across settings. Using the MTSS model can address these issues of over-identification for special education “to allot access to effective instruction and curricula for all…[and] to rule out ineffective instruction as the cause of a disability” (Hughes & Dexter, 2014). In addition, it provides a proactive, early-intervention perspective. “Students receive increasingly intensive intervention as soon as learning deficits are demonstrated. This purports to correct the wait to fail model” (Hughes & Dexter, 2014). MTSS is designed to keep students with their peers in the general education classroom receiving interventions seamlessly as part of their school day.