Continuously Improving Your Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

“Continuous Improvement Helps Us To Stay The Course Rather Than Taking A Detour Or Abandoning The Process When We Come Up Against Challenges.”

While Schools Generally Use A Tiered System Of Supports To Meet The Diverse Needs Of Students, This Process Is Often Used Reactively And Transactionally, Rather Than Proactively. Engaging In Ongoing Refinement Of Their Tiered System Of Supports Can Assist Schools In Providing Effective And High-Leverage Schoolwide Universal And Personalized Supports To All Students.

The Science Tells Us That Young People Have Varying Learning Profiles: Individual Contexts Based On Their Own Relationships, Environments, Experiences, Areas Of Strength, And Areas For Growth. They Will Also Have Differing Needs At Different Points Along Their Learning Trajectory And At Differing Levels Of Intensity.

One Key Component Of A Tiered System Of Supports Is The Process Of Analyzing And Discussing Referral Data, Student Support Plan Data, Implementation Data, And Progress Monitoring Data. This Process Is Known As Continuous Improvement.

Continuous Improvement Helps Educators Stay The Course Rather Than Taking A Detour Or Abandoning The Process When Faced With Challenges. Continuous Improvement Is An Iterative Process, Not The Implementation Of A “Silver Bullet” Solution. It Serves As A Way To Better Understand A Problem And The System That Produces It.

Here Are Some Examples Of Questions School Teams Can Ask When Analyzing Their Tiered System Of Supports Data:


  • What Does The Data Tell Us About How We Might Proactively Support Teachers?
  • Are There Trends Reflective Of Unconscious Bias In The Characteristics Of Students Who Are Being Referred?
  • What Type Of Strategies Are Most Utilized To Support Students?


We Know That One Constant In Education Is That Context Changes For Both The School And The Student, As They Are Within A Broader Context Of Policy, Systems And Structures At The District And Federal Level. When Schools Intentionally Use Data From Their Tiered System Of Supports, It Provides Insight To Make Intentional Shifts Or Changes For All Students.

Data Can Also Illustrate The Ways In Which We Are Supporting Students And Potentially Demonstrate How We Can Continue To Meet Students Where They Are. A School’s Tiered System Of Supports Is Reciprocal In That It Takes In Data, Responds To It, And Communicates Outcomes That Can Then Be Used To Improve Both Schoolwide And Classroom Environments.

Continuous Improvement Tools On The Toolbox

Turnaround For Children Provides Guidance On What Data To Collect, Reflection Questions To Analyze The Data, And A Suggested Planning Form To Engage In A Continuous Improvement Cycle. Turnaround For Children Offers Tools To Support School Teams With Making Refinements To Their Tiered Systems Of Support Using Referral And Implementation Data.

Access The Continuous Improvement Tools And Resources On The Toolbox By Creating A Free Account.

Continuously Improving Your Tiered System of Supports

“Continuous improvement helps us to stay the course rather than taking a detour or abandoning the process when we come up against challenges.”


While schools generally use a Tiered System of Supports to meet the diverse needs of students, this process is often used reactively and transactionally, rather than proactively. Engaging in ongoing refinement of their Tiered System of Supports can assist schools in providing effective and high-leverage schoolwide universal and personalized supports to all students.

The science tells us that young people have varying learning profiles: individual contexts based on their own relationships, environments, experiences, areas of strength, and areas for growth. They will also have differing needs at different points along their learning trajectory and at differing levels of intensity.

One key component of a Tiered System of Supports is the process of analyzing and discussing referral data, student support plan data, implementation data, and progress monitoring data. This process is known as continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement helps educators stay the course rather than taking a detour or abandoning the process when faced with challenges. Continuous improvement is an iterative process, not the implementation of a “silver bullet” solution. It serves as a way to better understand a problem and the system that produces it.

Here are some examples of questions school teams can ask when analyzing their Tiered System of Supports data:

  • What does the data tell us about how we might proactively support teachers?
  • Are there trends reflective of unconscious bias in the characteristics of students who are being referred?
  • What type of strategies are most utilized to support students?

We know that one constant in education is that context changes for both the school and the student, as they are within a broader context of policy, systems and structures at the district and federal level. When schools intentionally use data from their Tiered System of Supports, it provides insight to make intentional shifts or changes for all students.

Data can also illustrate the ways in which we are supporting students and potentially demonstrate how we can continue to meet students where they are. A school’s Tiered System of Supports is reciprocal in that it takes in data, responds to it, and communicates outcomes that can then be used to improve both schoolwide and classroom environments.

Continuous Improvement Tools on the Toolbox

Turnaround for Children provides guidance on what data to collect, reflection questions to analyze the data, and a suggested planning form to engage in a continuous improvement cycle. Turnaround for Children offers tools to support school teams with making refinements to their Tiered Systems of Support using referral and implementation data.

Access the Continuous Improvement tools and resources on the Toolbox by creating a free account.


By Dawn Foreman, M. Ed. and  Renee Prince, LCSW


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