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MTSS - Multitier Systems of Supports

A diagram of the Washington Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).

What is a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)?

According to OSPI, a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a framework for enhancing the adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based practices to achieve important outcomes for every student. The MTSS framework builds on a public health approach that is preventative and focuses on organizing the efforts of adults within systems to be more efficient and effective. MTSS helps to ensure students benefit from nurturing environments and equitable access to universal instruction and supports that are culturally and linguistically responsive, universally designed, and differentiated to meet their unique needs.


What are the Essential Components of an MTSS?

 MTSS consists of essential components which enable teams to work together to adapt instruction and supports to varied student needs. The essential components of MTSS are interrelated, and as the intensity of student need increases, each of the components also increase in intensity. Staff use evidence-based practices to accelerate student learning across all tiers. You can take a deeper dive into these essential components by looking through OSPI's MTSS Resource page. Additionally, the MTSS Guidance document provides a full outline of the five components of Washington MTSS shown on the graphic below. 

Universal Screening

  • The purpose of universal screening is to evaluate the efficacy of core instruction; to identify students who may be at risk for poor academic outcomes (e.g., not meeting end-of-year benchmarks or schoolwide expectations, not passing end of year summative assessments); and to identify students who need more intensive services provided through Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention (p. 12, Bailey, Colpo, & Foley, 2020). 

  • Universal screening shuold occur for all elementary students at least twice per year; however, it is common for school to conduct screening three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring). 

  • BISD screens all KG-6th grade students three times per year: Fall (September), Winter (January), and Spring (May/early June). 

  • BISD currently conducts KG-6th universal screening in the areas of Reading and Math. 

  • BISD uses FastBridge for universal screening. FastBridge utilizes computer-adaptive tests and curriculum-based measures for universal screening and progress monitoring. The National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) publishes an Academic Screening Tools Chart that provides information on classification accuracy, technical standards, and usability for a wide variety of commercially available academic screening tools with extensive information on how FastBridge was rated across these three indicators of technical rigor. 

  • Yes. OSPI has identified FastBridge as one of the recommended screeners for measuring the literacy skills associated with Dyslexia. OSPI Crosswalk for Literacy Screeners.

    • National Center on Intensive Intervention
    • Bailey, T. R., Colpo, A. & Foley, A. (2020). Assessment Practices Within a MultiTiered System of Supports (Document No. IC-18). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website:


  • Tier 1 is the foundation for additional layers of support and should meet the needs of approximately 80% of the student population. Tier 1 usually refers to the core curriculum, which should be (a) comprehensive, (b) aligned to grade-level standards, and (c) delivered classwide to all students. Every student has equitable access to universal instruction and supports that are culturally and linguistically responsive, universally designed, and differentiated to meet their unique needs. 



  • Tier 2 supports are an additional layer of targeted, evidence-based intervention programs that include:

    • clearly defined entrance and exit criteria
    • explicit instruction with increased opportunities to practice and receive specific, frequent feedback
    • gradual release of control and support when students master skills, and
    • increased communication with families to ensure consistency of support in home and school

     At Tier 2, schools often provide small group, standardized interventions using validated intervention programs. 



  • Students who demonstrate significant risk or do not respond to Tier 2 interventions may receive Tier 3 intensive interventions that are individualized to meet their needs. Tier 3 supports are an additional layer of intensive, evidence-based intervention programs that have been individualized to meet the needs of students who demonstrate significant risk or do not respond to tier 2 interventions. Interventions may be intensified across seven domains (see the Taxonomy of Intervention Intensity Overview for more details): 

    • strength of intervention program
    • dosage of supports
    • alignment to target skills and standards
    • attention to transfer
    • comprehensiveness
    • behavioral support, and
    • data-based individualization

Early Screening of Dyslexia

Senate Bill 6162 (2018): Early Screening of Dyslexia

Per OSPI Bulletin 074-21, starting in the 2021-22 school year, school districts must screen all students in grades K-2 for weaknesses associated with dyslexia: phonemic awareness, letter sound knowledge, phonological awareness, and rapid automatized naming. Additionally, school districts must implement a Multi-Tiered System of Supports to provide intervention at the earliest opportunity to ensure student literacy development is not delayed. 

Schools and districts must use evidence-based multisensory structured literacy interventions for students who are below grade level on their district's literacy screening tool and are not making progress toward grade level standards and expectations. A school district must provide interventions in the general education classroom. If progress monitoring and formative assessment indicate that, after receiving the initial tier of intervention, the student continues to display areas of weakness in the skills assessed, the district may provide additional interventions in either the general education classroom or a learning assistance program setting. 


Additional Resources:


Academic MTSS

Whitney Skarbek

Director of Teaching and Learning

Social, Emotional, Behavioral MTSS

Annalisa Sanchez

Director of Student Services