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  • Stacey Benz

What are MTSS, RTI, and PBIS and How are They Impactful?

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

What are MTSS, RTI, and PBIS and how are they impactful?

It would be reasonable to believe that educators have a common desire to support all students with their academic, social-emotional, behavioral, and developmental needs, right? It is for this reason that the MTSS (Multi-tiered System of Supports) exists in our educational system. With this beneficial system in place, schools work to ensure every child is being supported. But, why all these terms around interventions? Multi-Tiered System of Supports, Response to Intervention, and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports are sometimes used interchangeably, and while there are many similarities, it is crucial to understand there are differences as well.

What is a Multi-tiered System of Supports? (MTSS) – Minnesota Department of Education defines MTSS as a systemic, continuous improvement framework designed to ensure positive social, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and academic outcomes for every student. Using an MTSS framework, districts and schools continually collect and evaluate data to determine several aspects of their system, including program and curriculum evaluation and effectiveness and student achievement at all tiers. Using an MTSS framework supports schools in critically evaluating all aspects of instruction and support, while ensuring students’ needs are being met.

What is Response to Intervention? (RtI) – Response to Intervention is a multi-tiered system that focuses on the academic needs of students, ensuring all students receive high-quality instruction via tier I. Schools use universal screening data to determine which students (generally about 15%) are struggling and those students are supported with small group interventions in tier II. Students requiring additional individualized and intense supports qualify for tier III instruction (about 5%). Through the duration of instruction, frequent progress monitoring ensures data is continually used to determine the interventions students will receive.

What is Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports? (PBIS) – PBIS is an approach used schoolwide to promote and teach positive student behaviors and school safety. All students (tier I) are encouraged and explicitly taught, using research-based strategies, to behave in school and are often rewarded when doing so. For students that need additional supports, tier II and III intervention supports are implemented, and data is collected to ensure student behavioral needs are being met.

Regardless of the acronym, the ultimate goal of a school’s intervention support system is to make data-driven decisions that ensure the majority of students are responding to the core curriculum, supporting students with interventions and extensions, and monitoring student progress. This all begins with ensuring teachers are implementing high-quality tier I instruction in every classroom, providing universal screenings, and using data to determine next steps in planning to meet student needs. The small school intervention team meets regularly to examine data, discuss whole school and individual student needs, and to suggest intervention supports to implement.

Whether your school uses an MTSS, RtI, or PBIS, establishing and maintaining a system to critically review individual and school data can be a step in the right direction of increasing whole child success. TCEC staff are available to support your MTSS work by examining the current framework, analyzing data, and supporting modifications to benefit your school. We will collaborate with you to determine the strength of tier I curriculum and programs, and the effectiveness of tier II and III interventions, including support of the structure of the problem-solving team, staffing for interventions, etc. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you as your staff continues to support students in their academic and social-emotional development.

MTSS, RtI, and PBIS are all valuable components of our education system, and incorporating a framework to support students with their academic and social emotional needs is as important now as it has ever been in the past. Students are still adjusting to the past year and a half of interrupted education, and teachers are working to support student needs at an accelerated pace. Providing the intervention framework, supports, and system is reassuring to staff as well as families, as there is a belief that student needs will be met when relying on the MTSS framework.

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” holds true in our education system as well. Our community of educators work together to provide and support our students so they receive all they need to be successful in their education journey is an example of the village in action. TCEC education consultants are experienced in working with the Multi-Tiered System of Support and will help you in reaching your goals. We will take the time to collaborate through the design, implementation, and evaluation of your current response to intervention support framework to ensure the “village” is ready for each child at your school to flourish.

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