Instituting MTSS

    As school districts across the country are devoting more and more resources to implementing high-quality Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) processes, many district personnel are trying to figure out where the money will come from to fund such initiatives. While some funds may be available for school districts to improve their MTSS practices, many funding sources are available for school districts to implement specific components of MTSS—either across the school/district or specifically for certain targeted populations of students.

    What Federal Funding Streams Can Be Used for MTSS?

    There are multiple different federal funding sources available to school districts that can be used toward MTSS. For example, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides federal funding in different sections to state education agencies and local school districts. However, most federal education funds target specific populations, such as students from low-income families and/or neighborhoods, migratory children and youth, English language learners, and students receiving special education services. Other funds are available more broadly for school districts to provide professional learning in MTSS, support social-emotional learning, and supplemental funds for rural school districts.

    Professional Learning in MTSS

    Ensuring an effective MTSS practice often requires high-quality professional learning for teachers, interventionists, paraprofessionals, and school and district administrators. Title II, Part A funds can be used to help schools and districts provide training and coaching on any of the following MTSS-related topics:

    • Delivering effective differentiated instruction at all tiers
    • Delivering targeted small group intervention for students receiving Tier 2 support
    • Delivering intensive intervention for students receiving Tier 3 support
    • Making data-based decisions as to when and how to provide support for students

    ➡️ Related resource: How to Plan MTSS Professional Learning Throughout the Year

    Supporting Students’ Social-Emotional Needs

    Title IV, Part A provides funds that can be used in various ways that support MTSS—specifically around behavioral and social-emotional learning (SEL) skills. These funds can be used for behavior/SEL activities across a school or district or a specific group of students. For example, these funds could be used to purchase an SEL screener to identify students in need of small-group or individual support in SEL skills, provide SEL interventions, or to hire staff or contract with outside agencies to provide support for students receiving small group or individual Tier 2 or Tier 3 SEL support.   

    Supporting Rural School Districts

    Title V, Part B provides additional funding for rural school districts to use in a wide variety of ways. This flexibility allows school districts that are designated as rural school districts to use these funds toward MTSS-related services and activities, such as screening, progress monitoring, professional learning, interventions, and MTSS management.

    Blending and Braiding Federal Funds for Targeted Student Populations

    • Students from Low-Income Families and/or Communities (Title I, Part A): These funds are used for improving the academic achievement of those students who are economically disadvantaged. This is one of the largest sources of federal education funding and is used by most school districts in the US. These funds can be used for some or all of the components of implementing an MTSS practice—particularly for supporting students receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 support. Some examples of how a school district can use these funds toward MTSS include: hiring and paying for intervention teachers (including salary and benefits), providing small group interventions for students reading below grade level, purchasing supplementary materials in specific content areas (math, literacy, SEL learning, and behavior).
    • Migratory Children and Youth (Title I, Part C): These funds are used for the education of migratory children. Therefore, any MTSS-related expenses from this source must be used specifically for this population of students. These funds can be used to select students in this population to participate in Tier 2 or Tier 3 activities—such as a summer school program.
    • English Language Learners (Title III, Part A): Supporting English language learners in an MTSS framework can create unique challenges requiring special support and services. While Title III, Part A funds can be used to support the implementation of MTSS, the funds must be used specifically for English learners (EL) and/or immigrant students only. These funds can be used towards professional learning for classroom teachers and interventionists for delivering effective intervention and differentiated instruction for EL students, purchasing instructional materials designed to support EL students, or providing extended instructional time for EL students.
    • Students with IEPs (IDEA, Part B): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs education for students with disabilities. Funds from IDEA are generally targeted exclusively for students with IEPs, so any support—whether Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3—that is expressly documented in an IEP can be supported by federal IDEA funds. In addition, IDEA, Part B funds can be used for a Coordinated Early Intervention Services (CEIS) program—particularly for students in grades K-3 who have not yet received an IEP but require additional academic and behavior support in a traditional classroom environment.

    Can My District Still Use Federal Stimulus Funds for MTSS?

    Funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund is available for school districts to use until September 30, 2024. While some school districts have used these funds to implement targeted evidence-based interventions in schools, many school districts have been using these funds to accelerate the adoption and expansion of other MTSS activities that they plan to continue in a post-ESSER budget. See Funding for MTSS in Stimulus for more information. 

    Are There State Funding Streams That Are Also Available for MTSS?

    Many states provide funding opportunities—either by formula or grants—to individual schools and/or districts toward MTSS-related services and activities. For example, California has allocated $50 million in 2021 to provide grants to school districts to align their MTSS practice with the state’s priorities for MTSS. In Michigan, Section 35a of the State School Aid Act provides funds for districts to administer screening assessments, provide professional learning to administer the screeners, and professional learning on data interpretation of the screener data.

    Additional Help

    For more information on how you can find funding for the use of Branching Minds or other MTSS-related activities, send an email to


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    Tagged: Instituting MTSS

    February 17, 2022

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