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Welcome to MTSS Monthlies: A Monthly Space Dedicated to Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

The Elevate Educator Evangelists will share their expertise, stories, tools, tips, and techniques to support your work around MTSS ( Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) and closing the learning gap.

Our first blog addresses that Tier 2 is not the New Tier 1.

Tier 2 Is NOT the New Tier 1!

By Elizabeth M. Hughes, Ph.D.

How does your school implement multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS)? From talking with teachers, principals, and support staff, I know that the answer varies from school to school, district to district. However, there are some core elements across MTSS implementation.

The most fundamental element is that ALL students should receive quality instruction as every day, base instruction:

Tier 1 instruction = Core Evidence-based Instruction. Check out this website as a valuable tool to learn about evidence-based instruction by content area.


MTSS continues to be an early intervention, prevention, and LD identification model. I have learned much from working with schools and will share the Truths and Myths below.

TRUTH: MTSS is not intended to delay identification of a disability.

While MTSS can be used to identify a student with a disability, the student does not have to progress through all of the tiers before they are evaluated for a potential disability. I share my own child’s as an example. My oldest was receiving small group Tier 2 instruction for reading, but I thought her reading difficulty might be because of a learning disability. I sent in a written request to begin evaluating her for special education rather than waiting for her to progress through all of the tiers to determine qualification.

MYTH: MTSS is a one-way trip to special education.

We can think of MTSS as a way to keep kids out of special education. Students can move both directions through the tiers, based on their needs.

TRUTH: Evidence-based instruction begins in Tier 1.

MTSS is based on the assumption that students receive evidence-based instruction on a daily basis in Tier 1. This means that educators should be using instruction that aligns with the Science of Reading and the Science of Mathematics. (Seriously, check out those websites!) Without solid, effective core instruction in general education classrooms at Tier I, we are building the MTSS structure on quicksand. Students should not be shifted to Tier II to receive the instruction they deserve at Tier I.

MYTH: MTSS requires a lot of unnecessary assessments.

I totally get this one. When I taught elementary school in Georgia, there was a saying, “If you want a pig to get fatter, you don’t just keep weighing it.” I hesitated to share this metaphor because I don’t like the particular animal/child analogy…BUT…the message is clear. Now, I understand that assessments serve a purpose and I respect that. The thing is, we need to make sure the assessments we use serve the intended purpose- that screening tools quickly identify students who may need additional support, and formative assessments allow us to make changes to our instruction based on student performance. I use PASTA: Purposeful Assessment that Support Teacher Action for more information on different assessments and their purpose.

TRUTH: Teachers are Tired. We can’t keep asking them to do MORE.

We (all educational stakeholders) need to replace more with more efficient. We can’t keep asking teachers to do more and more. In addition to providing teachers with tools, tips and techniques, fostering and sustaining a culture of Collective Teacher Efficacy ( Watch this video by Dr. Jenni Donohoo) will support the necessary changes schools need to make to meet the needs of all learners.

Keep a lookout for our next MTSS Monthlies blog where we will give tips on finding ways to replace ineffective practices with more effective practices, locating resources from quality sources, and ways to prioritize the communication, collaboration and sharing of these efforts.

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