Training and Consultation (TaC) » Multi-Tier System of Support

Multi-Tier System of Support

In Pennsylvania, MTSS is a three-tier (or three-level) prevention, early identification, and intervening framework provided in general education classrooms, and refers to a process that emphasizes how well students respond to changes in instruction. The learning of ALL students is assessed early and often. MTSS uses standards aligned (what students must know and be able to do) and research-based (what has been proven to work) interventions at increasing levels of intensity to support students who struggle with reading, math, or behavior and to help them reach state standards. MTSS depends on a strong, standards aligned, research-based core curriculum (the "general curriculum") and positive school-wide behavior program.

Perhaps the most important benefit of an MTSS approach is that it is not a "wait to fail" model because students get help promptly in the general education setting. In Pennsylvania, ALL students have the opportunity to get needed help in general education classes, potentially reducing the number of students referred for special education services by a significant amount. In the MTSS model, students who continue to struggle in Tier 3 are referred for a special education evaluation, and data from the MTSS process, with state approval, can be used to determine eligibility as a student with a specific learning disability.

MTSS is not a pre-referral system, an individual teacher, classroom, special education program, an added period of reading instruction, or a separate stand-alone initiative. It is not preferential seating, shortened assignments, classroom observations, suspension, or retention. Finally, MTSS is not a one-shot attempt at remediation. Rather, it is a whole-school, all-staff framework.


The key features of MTSS include:

  • Standards aligned instruction
  • Universal screening of all students in academics and behavior 
  • Shared responsibility of all students
  • Positive school-wide behavior supports
  • Data-based decision making
  • Research-based, tiered interventions


For assistance, contact:

Karin Pilarski, Education Consultant; Email Karin
724-774-7800, x3031

Services include:

  • Building Schedules
  • Data Analysis Teaming
  • Eligibility Determination
  • Progress Monitoring
  • Research Based Interventions
  • School Wide Positive Behavior Supports
  • Universal Screening