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Multi-Tiered Systems and Support

Multi-Tiered Systems and Support (“MTSS”) is a process by which schools use data to identify system and student needs. This data is used to match student needs with evidence-based instruction and interventions, and monitor student progress to improve educational outcomes. The purpose of MTSS for the state of Iowa is to ensure every learner has the support necessary to maximize benefits of instruction through evidence-based practices and supportive learning environments.

Major components of MTSS:

  • Evidence-based curriculum and instruction provided at the universal tier.
  • Universal screening, multiple times a year, to identify students who need more support to reach proficiency and to evaluate the outcomes of the universal tier.
  • Evidence-based, instructional interventions at the universal (Tier 1), targeted (Tier 2), and intensive (Tier 3) tiers. These are provided to students and/or the system as a whole.
  • Progress monitoring to evaluate student progress in interventions.
  • Data-based decision making throughout the system to: a) define the problem; b) generate and then validate assumed causes; c) determine a course of action; d) implement the action; and e) evaluate the outcome.

The District prioritizes MTSS as the framework for meeting the needs of all learners in the areas of both academics and behavior. Although not a requirement, the District encourages schools to implement MTSS to address issues related to Social Emotional Behavioral (“SEB”) growth of all students.


The problem-solving process in MTSS is an ongoing methodology for effective decision making at all levels of the system and across all three tiers (Council of the Great City Schools, 2012). The tiers in this model represent instruction and supports.

Within the MTSS model, universal supports such as high quality, universally designed, culturally sustaining, and evidence-based curriculum, instruction, and assessments are provided for all students.

Movement amongst the three tiers is fluid and not determined or defined by specific designations, such as diagnosed disabilities. Rather, movement is supported by data from universal screeners, diagnostic assessments, progress monitoring, and how a student responds to one level of intervention.

Any and all students should have access to supports when they need them. In addition, obtaining services at one point does not mean that students will always need that level of support. The MTSS process is not always linear, but rather oriented around problem solving.

When data shows that students require more or less intensive supports to aid either remediation or enrichment, they will move throughout the tiers based on that need.

  • Approved: 01-09-2023
  • Documents: 604.2

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