Launching the MTSS in Middle School Mathematics at the Tier 1 Level

Updated: Aug 7

MTSS Monthlies, Issue 4



Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is a framework that combines school academics and behavior to develop partnerships between the school culture, leadership, and community. This system is composed of 3 tiers, the first one focusing on universal screenings and effective instruction. It is important that we locate students who are struggling and intervene early. Academic intervention at 3rd or 4th grade takes 4 times longer than if delivered at kindergarten (Lyon, 1998). Only 24% of seniors scored at or above "proficient" in math in 2019. That figure hasn't changed significantly since 2005, the first administration of this math assessment for seniors (NCES, 2015).


This June we had the amazing opportunity to kick off our partnership with a northern New Jersey PreK-12 school district to assist in the implementation of MTSS across the board. We started by meeting with a hard-working group of sixth grade mathematics teachers from the three middle schools. We spent a day full of learning from each other about the current practices, working together to look at ways in which we can collaborate and support each other in instruction, and how the teachers are using data in daily instruction. It was great to hear about all of the data they not only collect on a day-to-day basis, but how they use that data to help shape their instruction. We discussed some neat ways in which to collect that data, too. One teacher uses Plickers; a program in which the students show printed QR codes to answer questions and the teacher can use their phone to check for accuracy. In education there are so many great resources available- and collaborating to see what is happening in other classrooms is a useful way to learn about some of them.


Tier 1 includes high-quality learning environments, curricula, and instructional practices. We were excited to hear about the many strong instructional practices already in place and also presented some new ideas and strategies. We discussed the use of guided notes to assist students in their learning and engaged in fluency practice activities that could be used to help students increase their automaticity on math concepts. Moreover, we discussed and reviewed retention and worked solution strategies to help promote long-term retention and learning.


MTSS is only as strong as the collaboration that happens between teachers, administrators, coaches, students, and the community. This kick off session was the beginning of a great collaboration between Elevate Educators LLC and the school district. Our first session displayed the strong instruction happening in the schools and ways in which we can look at assessment data to help locate students that are struggling and topics that present difficulties. We are looking forward to seeing Tier 1 in action in the fall.


Written by, Dr. Lauren Cozad- Professor at Penn State, State College, PA and

Education Evangelist at Elevate Educators LLC


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