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8 Steps to Developing an MTSS plan (and Other Considerations)

7 Min Read
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Developed by the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, the multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a framework that provides a coordinated, systematic, and continuous process to improve student outcomes. We know it sounds complicated, but fortunately, the MTSS framework includes only three essential components:

  1. A three-tiered approach to providing behavioral and academic support services 
  2. Continual assessment and data analysis to drive decision-making
  3. Coordination and collaboration among educators, families, and community partners

P.K. Yonge has implemented MTSS education since 2006, and the educational technique still works. The organization has proved that the process is straightforward: Every student receives core instruction, known as Tier 1. This tier includes the general population of students who all need help with their language development and understanding of social norms. Tier 2, takes this a step further and offers some students supplemental training that can assist them beyond what’s offered both in and out of school. Tier 3 focuses on a smaller percentage of students that may require in-school support services like therapy or contracts. 

Wondering how your school can take steps to develop a MTSS plan? It’s a lot less intimidating than it might sound, so read on!

How to Develop an MTSS Implementation Plan

If you’re interested in developing a MTSS implementation plan, there are a few things you’ll need to do. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

1. Meet with your student success team

The student success team (SST) is usually composed of the K–12 MTSS support specialist, administrators, the learning community leader, speech and language pathologists, teachers, guidance counselors, and sometimes occupational therapists. These meetings offer an opportunity to collaboratively reflect on students’ goals and achievements. As an administrator, you’ll want to base your SST on the needs of your school. Once you have your team, schedule a meeting to start developing your multi-tiered systems of support. 

2. Assess the current state of your school

You and your team will then assess your school’s current state and identify areas where additional support is needed. This is the time to establish shared values and goals for the MTSS. This phase should involve input from administrators, teachers, family members, students, and special education professionals. This assessment may include reviews of data from standardized tests, academic performance data, surveys, or interviews. This should take place not only with your SST, but with parents or guardians as well.

3. Gather current data 

The next step is to gather data on the current performance of all students in your school district. This should include both academic and behavioral data. You’ll also need information on which students are currently receiving accommodations.

Once you have this information, you can begin to identify patterns and identify which students are most in need of support. You can also use this data to determine which accommodations are already working and make changes as needed.

4. Determine tiers

The majority of students get their needs met through Tier 1 instruction. P.K. Yonge aims for 80% efficacy for those hitting targets, but this percentage will vary depending on the school. Tiers 2 and 3 provide more in-depth support for students and, in turn, require more challenging work. According to research, however, these tiers benefit students with more intensive needs. Note most students require Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions, but typically only a small percentage will require Tier 3 interventions. 

5. Develop a plan for intervention that addresses identified needs.

Once you’ve assessed your students’ needs, it’s important to identify any gaps in services or support that are currently in place. This can help to target specific students who would benefit from Tiers 2 and 3 interventions.

There are a few different ways schools can implement a multi-tiered system of supports. One way is through response to intervention (RTI). This approach involves providing increasing levels of support to students who are struggling academically or behaviorally. 

Another way to implement MTSS is through positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). This approach focuses on preventing problem behaviors from happening in the first place by teaching behavior expectations and reinforcing positive behavior. Both RTI and PBIS can be effective systems for addressing academic and behavioral needs of students.

It’s important to remember that MTSS is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, schools should consider the specific needs of the students and develop a support plan that caters to the school’s particular needs.

6. Come up with a plan for delivering instructional and behavioral support services

The next step is to develop a comprehensive plan for how you will deliver instructional and behavioral support services and allocate MTSS resources. This plan should be based on the needs of your students and can typically be aligned with state academic standards.

Questions to ask yourself during this step:

  • What evidence-based tools are we using to address students’ needs?
  • How are we screening students and adequately addressing their individual needs?
  • How are we monitoring student progress?
  • How are we offering high-quality instruction for all students?

7. Choose evidence-based interventions that are aligned with these goals and objectives

Here are some general tips that can be useful when choosing evidence-based practices for a multi-tiered system of supports:

  • Make sure data guide the intervention. In other words, you should have a clear idea of what problem you’re trying to solve with the intervention and then select a solution that is grounded in student data and is effective in addressing that particular issue.
  • Make sure the intervention is aligned with your state’s academic standards. 
  • Assess your progress and make adjustments as needed.

The best way to assess your progress and make necessary adjustments for a multi-tiered system of supports is to consult with your team continually. 

You’ll want to take a data-based approach, looking at students’ performance data, test scores, behavioral data, and survey results. By having frequent discussions about progress and implementing changes as needed, you can ensure that all students receive the high-quality instruction and support they need for success.

8. Maintain MTSS student support meeting documentation

Maintain MTSS student support meeting documentation by having support staff evaluate accommodations for students and assemble resources that will help. Keep customizable resources for MTSS coordinators during or after meetings with teachers, support staff, family members, and students. 

Usually, these meetings aim to review the effectiveness of specific support strategies for a student or track student progress towards academic or behavioral goals. These meetings are often connected with a student’s individualized education plan (IEP) or MTSS at Tier 2 or 3, and so documentation is necessary.

Addressing Stigmas

MTSS creates a way to help students of varying abilities, but administrators know that some accommodations or tiers may put students at risk of being marginalized or shamed. This is why it’s essential for your staff to ensure that students feel respected and safe, no matter their needs. Teachers should also respect student privacy and schedule meetings to discuss extensive MTSS plans with students outside of class. Additionally, teachers should be encouraged to educate students about the specific tiers, why they are used, and how they are beneficial for all students. This educational awareness can help break down stigmatizing barriers. 


An MTSS plan provides a framework for improving student achievement. Implementing MTSS can identify students who need extra support and develop mechanisms to provide that support.  MTSS can also ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. Plus, data from MTSS can be used to inform decisions about instructional practices and the allocation of resources. All of these factors make MTSS an essential part of any school’s efforts to improve student achievement. Good luck with your school’s MTSS journey!

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


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