MTSS, RtI, PBIS: So Many Letters, So Little Clarity

MTSS Implementation

Is MTSS the current “shiny new object”? Or does it actually bring together two approaches that have been implemented widely across school systems? These two approaches, academic response to intervention (RtI) and whole school positive behavioral interventions (PBIS), can be found in some form in many schools. Some studies show RtI in as high as 68% of schools, leaning heavily to elementary schools (GlobalScholar, 2011).

Given the increasingly widespread use of RtI and/or PBIS, it makes sense to include those approaches into a more holistic and integrated model that goes beyond viewing RtI only as a special education eligibility process. MTSS is the answer.

RtI, implemented well, has had a positive impact on literacy, especially in elementary schools. (Refer to the RTI Network’s review of published studies on the effectiveness of different RTI models.) Arising from RtI, MTSS has been described as a more comprehensive approach to literacy that includes instruction, assessment, and data-based decision making, all within a tiered model of delivery. Since PBIS also relies on tiers of instruction and delivery and the use of data-based decisions, it makes sense to implement multiple-tiered systems into a coherent system that unites academic content areas (and not just literacy) with the social-emotional domain. With well-planned MTSS a district will have one consistent approach to be used Prek-12. Having a coherent system enables greater efficiency and acknowledges the relationship between the academic and social-emotional domains.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)

MTSS, RtI and PBIS venn diagram

Implementing MTSS or RtI requires time, understanding and careful planning. Schools need to begin somewhere. At CORE, we start with the academic domains of literacy and math. We work with schools and districts to select material, design a tiered system, identify appropriate assessment tools, analyze your data, and ensure tier 1 instruction is top notch. Then we go into classrooms, co-teach, model, and coach, and guide school leaders as they walk through classrooms to see instruction. During each visit from CORE, the CORE instructional expert sits with your data team to review results, monitor student progress and implement changes based on student and teacher need. Take a look at this short video to learn how Washington Elementary School achieved 84% of students meeting benchmark on DIBELS by implementing effective multi-tiered instruction.

MTSS may seem like a whole new set of letters to learn but in reality, MTSS unites many instructional frameworks, ensures  a consistent approach to instruction, and takes  into account the whole child, blending academic and social and emotional aptitudes.

If you’d like more information about MTSS and RtI and how to implement these frameworks into your school or district, complete the form below to request a free consultation with CORE.

Making Sense of All the Letters

Academic RtI or RtII is a preventive evidence-based approach to improving achievement through effective universal core instruction and additional tiered support of increasing intensity based on student needs. RtI includes the use of appropriate screening and progress monitoring measures, team data review and problem solving.

PBIS is also an evidence-based approach to provide a multi-tiered continuum of support to students to address social-emotional issues. PBIS uses an instructional approach to behavior and prevention and also relies on data and team problem solving.

MTSS provide an integrated way to ensure students achieve academically and thrive behaviorally. Multi-tiered Systems of Support focus on high quality effective instruction and intervention across all tiers with strong first teaching and school-wide behavior plans and grounded in ongoing progress monitoring.

Data-Based Decision-Making relies on tools to screen all students (universal screening), and monitor students at different rates of frequency depending on need and to determine effectiveness of interventions. With frequent progress monitoring, educators can quickly determine whether the specific instructional or behavioral intervention is working or needs to be adjusted. The types of assessments used and data collected are important. Curriculum-Based Measures (DIBELS, AIMSweb, EasyCBM) and Mastery Measures provide the most useful data on which to make academic decisions. Office referrals, yard problems, response to school-wide and classroom or student-specific behavioral interventions all provide data for making decisions within PBIS.