Frequently Asked Questions about MTSS

This FAQ is a living document and will be revised over time as more questions and solutions arise about MTSS implementation.


What is MTSS?

Multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a district-wide early detection and prevention system that will support adjustment of instruction, assessment, and intervention to met the academic, social/emotional and behavioral needs of all students (Education that fits…).


The Anchorage School District has included 10 essential components to help clarify MTSS.  In order to be an effective and efficient system, all ten components must be present.  To further simplify, the ten components have been combined to form 4 cluster areas: Instruction and Intervention, Data Evaluation, Stakeholder Engagement, and Problem Solving.


When schools and the ASD fully embrace and embed these components into their organizational structure, the outcome is a school-wide, prevention-based framework for improving learning outcomes for every student through a layered continuum of evidence-based practices and systems.  The success of an MTSS framework is dependent on the effective interaction of student outcomes:

  • data used for decision-making,
  •  use of evidence-based practices to get to student outcomes, and
  • the systems which adults need in order to support the implementation of the practices.

Why is ASD implementing MTSS and how does it fit in with other district initiatives?

Experience has demonstrated that in order to increase achievement, successful systems plan their improvement efforts collaboratively.  Developing one common plan for improvement streamlines the school and district’s efforts and resources, through alignment of academic standards and behavioral expectations, implemented with fidelity and sustained over time, in order to accelerate the performance of every student to maximize improvement for all learners.


ASD is committed to providing an equitable education that meets all students’ needs regardless of which school they attend.  This educational system is designed to help all students achieve college and career readiness and graduate from high school.


How does MTSS apply to students who are above proficient or advanced?

MTSS is not just about providing instructional support to students who are struggling.  MTSS is about meeting the needs of ALL. 


We provide a comprehensive assessment system to examine the growth of all students.  If advanced students are not making gains, then the team must investigate why, and provide instructional supports to meet their needs.


MTSS is about accelerating the learning of ALL students.

Isn’t MTSS for special education?

The misconception that MTSS is only for special education stems from language that is found in special education law.  The Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) encourages schools to begin using a process that determines if a student responds to “scientific, research-based intervention” prior to or as part of the evaluation procedures to determine whether a student has specific learning disability (SLD) and needs special education services.  However, MTSS is an early detection and prevention system for screening, instructing and monitoring all students, not just students with suspected disabilities.


The Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) states in Sec. 1114(7) that school-wide program plans must include a description of how needs of at risk children will be met, which may include “implementation of a school-wide tiered model to prevent and address problem behavior, and early intervening services coordinated with similar activities and services” under IDEA.


The goal of MTSS is to provide the right amount of support based on need so all students reach, or exceed, their learning potential and prepare them for college and career readiness.

Who is responsible for implementing MTSS?

Shared ownership is a critical component within a MTSS service delivery model.  In other words, all staff assume an active role in instruction, assessment and intervention supports for all students.


MTSS is a collective group of educational professionals working together to implement a continuum of supports.

What does “multi-tiered” refer to?

A MTSS framework provides students with multiple levels of instructional intensity (tiers) to meet the academic, social/emotional and behavioral needs of all students. 


Universal instruction is the research-based core curriculum and classroom interventions that will be available to all students and effectively meet the needs of 80-85% or more of them.   All students receive high-quality, scientifically based instruction differentiated to meet their needs, and are screened on a periodic basis to identify struggling and advanced learners who need additional support and enrichment. 


Targeted Instruction provides students not making adequate progress in the core curriculum with increasingly intensive instruction matched to their needs on the basis of levels of performance and rates of progress.   Students identified as advanced learners, who need additional instructional intensity, will also be provided targeted intervention with a focus on enrichment. 


Intensive Interventions target the students’ skill deficits for the remediation of existing problems and the prevention of more severe problems.   Students at this level receive intense individual interventions while continuing to receive Tier 1 instruction. The intensive individual interventions may include a District sponsored curriculum intended to replace the core curriculum to accelerate learning and close the achievement gap.  


What is universal screening?

In the context of MTSS, universal screening is the first step in evaluating the effectiveness of core instruction for all students.  It is also the mechanism for targeting students who struggle to learn when provided a scientific, evidence –based general education (Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007).


In a prevention approach, all students are screened to examine the effects of standards-aligned core instruction on student performance, to proactively monitor those who need instructional interventions and enrichment in a timely manner, as well as to monitor progress throughout the school year to determine student growth. 


The ASD currently utilized AIMSweb measures and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) as screening measures in the Fall, Winter and Spring.


What is progress monitoring?

In the context of an RTI prevention model, progress monitoring is used to assess student progress or performance in those areas in which they were identified by universal screening as being at-risk for failure (e.g., reading, mathematics, social behavior).


It is the method by which teachers or other school personnel determine if students are benefitting appropriately from the typical instructional program, identify students who are not making adequate progress, and help guide the construction of effective intervention programs for students who are not profiting from typical instruction (Fuchs &Stecker, 2003).


According to the National Center on Student Progress Monitoring, progress monitoring has the following benefits when it is implemented correctly:


1. students learn more quickly because they are receiving more appropriate instruction;

2. teachers make more informed instructional decisions;

3. documentation of student progress is available for accountability purposes;

4. communication improves between families and professionals about student progress;

5. teachers have higher expectations for their students; and, in many cases,

6. there is a decrease in special education referrals.

Who do we progress monitor and how often?

All students’ progress is monitored utilizing formative assessment from core curriculum.  In addition, if students are receiving targeted or intensive interventions, progress monitoring may occur more frequently utilizing program assessments or AIMSweb progress monitoring assessments.  An educator may use these measures to gauge the effectiveness of teaching and adjust instructional techniques to meet the needs of the individual student.

Anchorage School District website accessibility and nondiscrimination notice. The Anchorage School District is an equal opportunity provider.