A Multi-Tiered System of Supports is a systematic, continuous improvement framework that focuses on the positive educational experiences and outcomes of all students

A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a systematic improvement framework in which continuous data-based problem-solving and decision making is practiced across all levels of the school system.

MTSS is a way of thinking and doing that utilises high-impact, evidence-based pedagogical practices to ensure every student receives the appropriate level of support, instruction and intervention to be successful.

MTSS assists schools to identify and organise resources responsively through alignment and monitoring of curriculum standards and behavioural expectations. Practices are implemented with fidelity and sustained over time in order to accelerate the educational outcomes of every student.

MTSS centres on a strong foundation of universal, research-based approaches which increase in intensity and individualisation until the barriers to learning are addressed. The result is a continuum of resources, strategies and structures that directly address the academic, communication, social, wellbeing, and behavioural variances across all cohorts.

Traditionally, emphasis is placed on Tier 1 which encompasses whole-school quality differentiated  instruction and support for all students. Tier 2 comprises of supplemental instruction and supports, with Tier 3 delivering intensive, individualised intervention.

However, with the introduction of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data for Students with Disability (NCCD), schools in Australia are becoming increasingly familiar with a 4 tier system for identifying the level of adjustments and intervention a student requires and accesses. It is therefore worth considering how the application of this model can extend and reimagine the traditional MTSS framework.

When MTSS merges with the NCCD approach, the result is a transformative framework that captures the following:

Loren Swancutt – 2018

The representation of the model is strategic in its design. Instead of the traditional pyramid approach, the overlapping circles deliver the intended message that quality differentiated teaching and learning should always form the default position for all educational experiences. It is not separate from, nor the intervention tiers instead of – it represents that regardless of the level of adjustment and support the student requires, that it occurs in addition to quality differentiated teaching and learning, not in its place.

The connection point of all tiers establishes the view that intervention is not stagnant, but instead ever fluid and responsive to data. It encourages the consideration that intervention needs to be differential according to strengths and weaknesses across learning areas and experiences, and that a student has the potential to access varying levels of intervention as required.

Positioning the levels of support as extensions of quality differentiated teaching and learning allows them to be accessible in a more proactive and inclusive way. Planning supports within the regular curriculum experience and enacting them within the general classroom allows all students to tap into and out of intervention responsively. It provides the option for all students to access the supports they require in the learning moment; removing the delayed, reactive response of the traditional Response to Intervention process.

The MTSS response for curriculum and behaviour supports is best managed via a multidimensional, systems response such as a Whole-school Student Support Services Team (WSSST). More information on this approach can be found here.

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