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Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)

MTSS Triangle - Equitable Outcomes for ALL students

The Issaquah School District Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) visual framework illustrates the model of proactive, tiered supports for students and reaches many areas of our ongoing work in the Issaquah School District. This is a continually changing and improving set of supports that support the Social-Emotional wellbeing of students while proactively responding to needs in the areas of Behavior and Academics.

MTSS is a proactive framework to improve outcomes for each and every student though a comprehensive continuum of evidence-based supports for academic and social/emotional learning in order to provide equitable opportunities applied at the individual, classroom, school and district level

MTSS employs a team-driven, data-based, problem-solving approach; components of which include; early interventions, a comprehensive assessment system, and common assurances around the highest leverage instructional, intervention, and assessment practices.

*Delivering the supports in this visual is a lot like slicing into a cake: you get the top layer, but also the layers beneath. Higher tier MTSS supports are AN ADDITION to high quality Tier I, not a replacement.

For more information about areas of our MTSS efforts, please visit these departmental pages for more information: 

PBSES Positive Behavior Social-Emotional Support

Testing SBAC, WCAS, i-Ready, etc.


MTSS Cake Slice graphic representing Tier 1, 2 and 3 supports

The need for this framework of supports is deeply rooted in the ISD Equity Statement:

We believe that each student has the potential to achieve, and it is our responsibility to provide all students the opportunity and support needed to meet their highest capability in a safe and welcoming environment.

We acknowledge that systemic and institutional inequities and bias exist, creating barriers for student achievement and well-being.

We are committed to raising the achievement of all learners regardless of race, status, varied ability, mental health, English language fluency, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, trauma impact, and geography.

Our culture should promote the identification and removal of barriers causing predictability and disproportionality of the highest and lowest achieving groups.

~Introduction to the ISD Equity Executive Limitations 16

How does MTSS address systemic inequity?

MTSS is about screening ALL students, and using data to diagnose needs (behavioral, social-emotional, and academic). Then, using that data, we give those students matching classroom supports.

It creates a system where buildings implement and analyze common academic and behavioral data during pre-identified time frames throughout the year. This data is then used to intervene thoughtfully and efficiently with students. With the foundation of MTSS being data driven and time bound, it helps remove barriers that are often associated with inequities and opportunity gaps such as an over reliance on anecdotal evidence, a lack of intervention matching, a lack of early intervention and struggling students having to access help outside of the school day.

If we are to acknowledge that systemic inequities exist in our world and in our education system, with the effect of an achievement gap for certain groups of learners, then addressing that gap with early interventions can help us see student needs before they are compounded over time, in some cases years, before the need becomes glaringly evident and the hole to climb out of becomes inescapably deep. 

MTSS as a Framework to Build Equity in Washington and Close Opportunity Gaps, Statement from OSPI  

OSPI is committing to the implementation of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) as the approach for aligning our systems and priorities to tackle Washington’s persistent opportunity gaps. MTSS is the framework for enhancing the adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based practices to achieve important outcomes for every student. MTSS involves team-based leadership; continuous data-based decision-making; student, family and community engagement; and the delivery of a continuum of evidence-based instruction and support.  

To be successful, our education system needs to intentionally engage our students, families, and communities in the development and provision of supports available throughout the state. The multi-tiered approach, which has been tested and validated in the education field internationally for three decades, involves the delivery of universal evidence-based instruction and supports to all students, additional supports to some, and intensive supports to those who need them.  

To be most effective, MTSS requires alignment at all levels, from the state to the classroom. At the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), we have begun the challenging but important task of aligning our MTSS efforts across departments. OSPI is working to build and deliver consistent professional development and technical support across each area of the state, adhering to research and consistent with implementation science. By doing this, OSPI will work with our regional and local partners to provide a cascade of support that creates the conditions necessary for each and every student to realize their full potential.  


Chris Reykdal 
Superintendent of Public Instruction 

Washington State OSPI MTSS framework.