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Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

California’s MTSS focuses on aligning initiatives and resources within an educational organization to address the needs of all students. It is an integrated, comprehensive framework for local educational agencies (LEA) that aligns academic, behavioral, and social-emotional learning in a fully integrated system of support for the benefit of all students. MTSS offers the potential to create systematic change through intentional integration of services and supports to quickly identify and meet the needs of all students.

California’s vast and complex Prekindergarten through grade twelve educational system requires a multifaceted approach that is scalable and sustainable. The California Department of Education’s (CDE) vision of “one coherent system of education” offers an opportunity to build the foundation for educational excellence. Through the use of Implementation Science, Universal Design for Learning, and the Whole Child approach, among other evidence-based interventions, MTSS affords a full range of academic, behavioral, and social support for all students to achieve.

MTSS Overview

MTSS, Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI²), and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are often spoken of synonymously, and for those new to MTSS, it can be difficult to determine what people mean when these terms are used interchangeably. It is important to keep in mind, though, that MTSS is a framework for aligning resources and initiatives; it is a method of organization. As such, MTSS encompasses both RtI² and PBIS, and systematically addresses support for all students.  


Since MTSS is a framework that brings together both RtI² and PBIS and aligns their supports to serve the whole child, it also relies on data gathering through universal screening, data-driven decision making, and problem solving teams, and focuses on content standards. MTSS aligns the entire system of initiatives, supports, and resources, and implements continuous improvement processes throughout the system.

California Department of Education - MTSS Overview

Guide to Understanding California MTSS

Why Do We Need MTSS?

We need MTSS in our schools so that we can minimize or eliminate barriers and improve student outcomes by designing equitable, tiered, universally designed systems of support that address student’s academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs in ways that are culturally sustaining.  It is a system for educating all of our students and educating them completely as a “whole” person.

If we can provide the services we need for our cars, we sure as heck can create systems that provide those supports, when they are needed, to our kids.

What is MTSS and Why Do We Need It? - Novak

Introduction to MTSS Video


Sharlene Ames

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services

Catherine Rodecker

MTSS Coordinator