Leading a team through the beginning of a project can be sufficiently done by having a clear roadmap that guides all stakeholders and helps lay the groundwork for success. Change fatigue can plague the best leaders, and most changes fail because of the lack of direction and purpose. 

    This Guide to the First 100 days of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports can help remove the anxiety that goes along with a significant change. The guide lays out steps to get started with your MTSS practice. It also contains resources to strengthen (or refresh) your team's knowledge base around MTSS, as well as valuable resources for education leaders when instituting MTSS. 

    When it comes to implementing MTSS, breaking down the process into digestible steps will improve your stakeholder’s and team members' confidence in their roles, responsibilities, and tasks—and ultimately provide students with the support they need to learn and grow. No matter where you are in your school year, it's not too late to build a solid foundation for MTSS.

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    1. Preparing for a Multi-Tiered System of Supports

    A continuous and robust MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework is an evidence-based solution to support the whole student, create a positive school culture, increase the effectiveness of core instruction, and proactively deliver targeted, evidence-based interventions. But this framework does not just come into existence overnight. 

    Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

    A system of MTSS requires adequate planning, resources, and a continuous data collection cycle to ensure this system is being used effectively to maximize its impact on student achievement. For a district or school looking to implement MTSS or re-evaluate its current process, the first months can be daunting. 

    This guide provides a framework for education leaders to follow during the first 100 days of MTSS. This guide provides steps and resources to help leaders gauge their practice and understand where their MTSS practice may be lacking. 

    It is important to note that this guide is a framework. Specific details will depend upon a school or district’s current stage of MTSS implementation and their access to specific resources. This guide reflects the implementation of MTSS through a system-level change method. MTSS is not a bottom-up solution, where it begins in one classroom and then grows to encompass other grades and students. Instead, effective implementation of MTSS starts at the leadership level and includes the buy-in of all stakeholders. 

    This guide will cover each step along the way to help leaders ensure that their MTSS framework is built upon a solid foundation. Resources have been included in each segment to provide more information to share with MTSS and school teams. 

    2. Preparing To Start: Setting Your MTSS Framework

    The purpose of MTSS is to provide adequate and equitable tiered support for all students—while also supporting educators and administrators to more effectively and efficiently help students. MTSS intentionally encompasses the whole child—supporting students academically, social-emotionally, and behaviorally.

    MTSS is a system-level initiative that helps districts across the country improve student outcomes through the use of screeners, a continuum of tiered support, progress monitoring, and data-based decision-making. And as a system-level solution, MTSS is collaborative, involving all stakeholders in data-driven decision-making to best support students. 

    a. Build Your MTSS Teams 

    The MTSS team is the problem-solving team, and it will drive the system of MTSS. By proactively creating this team before the onset of a school year, leadership can ensure that there is a team of individuals who are available to answer questions, guide processes, and evaluate the health of their MTSS system. These teams should exist at each school, with a district-level team to help with the implementation and ongoing analysis of the district-wide MTSS practice. Check out the table below for guidance on who should be on a school-based MTSS team. 


    MTSS Team Members

    Roles and Responsibilities 

    Administrative Representative

    Leadership, Facilitates monitoring and MTSS processes, Ensures school schedule and resource allocation are aligned to MTSS practice, Ensures next steps are documented 

    MTSS Team Coordinator 

    School-based representatives that coordinate and set agenda for MTSS team meetings, Expert on MTSS and data analysis, Identifies trends in MTSS data, Ensures next steps are documented 

    Grade-Level/Content Area Representative(s)

    Liaison between Departments and MTSS team, Attends PLC/MTSS meetings,
    Ensures next steps are documented  

    Specialists (Rotating members) 

    Inclusion of specialist members: ELL teachers, speech/language pathologist, interventionists, and behavior specialists, Ensures next steps are documented 

    Classroom Teacher(s) 

    Provide voice of classroom teachers, Expertise and knowledge on specific students, 

    Ensures next steps are documented and followed through in the classroom 

    b. Allocate Your Resources to Support MTSS

    Key MTSS resources are needed to ensure that educators have access to what they need, when they need it. The following resources should be accounted for prior to the start of the school year in which MTSS will be implemented or revised. 

    • Valid and reliable assessments to screen and progress monitor

    • Robust data-driven resources for support, enrichment, and intervention are in place

    • Professional learning to develop or refine MTSS foundational knowledge for all stakeholders 

    • Infrastructure updates to accommodate sessions to provide support and intervention for students as well as for stakeholders to attend MTSS-related meetings

    • Evidence-based intervention strategies and resources 

    • Professional learning and evidence-based resources for differentiated core instruction

    • Resource the enables clear and efficient data collection, and analysis (such as an MTSS Management Software)

    c. Create a Clear Vision and Understanding of MTSS 

    Change methods, or change models, are evidence-based approaches to instituting change at an organizational level. When used with fidelity, they provide a clear guide that allows organizations to walk through a change process while remaining equitable and cognizant of the needs of their stakeholders and staff. While many of these methods exist, one of the most predominant and well-researched is Kotter’s “8-Step Process for Leading Change.” When placed into an education framework, Kotter’s method lays out a clear outline and plan for the district’s implementation of MTSS. 

    One of the key first steps in Kotter’s Theory is to create a strategic vision that is universally understood by all stakeholders. This same process applies to districts as they implement or revise their system of MTSS. All stakeholders across the district need to have a clear understanding from Day 1 of the goal of MTSS, their responsibility in achieving this goal, and how this goal will impact their school and students. 

    By communicating an MTSS vision, leaders connect all stakeholders and create accountability and transparency. Beyond just communicating this vision at the beginning of the calendar plan, leaders should create a plan to provide frequent and clarifying messaging to all stakeholders on an ongoing basis. These “check-ins” are reminders of the “why” of MTSS. Remember, this vision should be rooted in reality and address current challenges. For example, if a high percentage of students have historically needed intervention, this vision should account for how MTSS will revise core instruction to proactively support students before intervention is needed. 

    To further build upon this vision, education leaders will also need to create a framework that establishes a common understanding of MTSS with all staff. MTSS professional development sessions can greatly help in this endeavor, but the district’s schools also create or revise an MTSS Handbook that is accessible by all staff as a resource. 

    The MTSS Handbook should include resources on: 

    • Key MTSS Terminology 

    • Vision for MTSS 

    • MTSS team guidelines/roles 

    • MTSS protocols 

    • MTSS goals 

    • MTSS meetings 

    • SMART goals for MTSS priorities 

    • Dates for all MTSS-related meetings 

    d. Resources for Setting Your MTSS Framework 

    The following resources can be helpful with creating an MTSS framework:

    • MTSS Guide: This guide covers the ins and outs of MTSS, including important components to consider and the responsibilities of each stakeholder. This guide covers the guiding principles of MTSS, the problem-solving cycle, the MTSS tiers, intervention planning, and how to create effective MTSS meeting structures. 

    • MTSS Buy-in and Mobilization Guide: The mobilization guide dives into each step education leaders need to take when implementing MTSS and building buy-in with their staff. This is a great tool to ensure the transition does not overwhelm staff and the change to MTSS goes smoothly. 

    • MTSS Glossary of Key Terms: Communication is key when starting a new initiative, and it is important to establish a common MTSS language with all staff. This MTSS glossary covers MTSS key terms, so all staff have an understanding of different components. This glossary is a great resource to use alongside the MTSS guide and your district MTSS handbook.

    • MTSS Meetings Guide: Meetings are a key component in facilitating the MTSS process. Meetings establish a culture of collaboration, data review, and drive the problem-solving process. This guide provides a framework for effective meeting structures in an MTSS structure. It includes frameworks for Grade/Content Meetings, School-Level Meetings, and Individual Support Meeting. 

    • Introducing MTSS to Your Team: Part of the guide includes steps for introducing MTSS to your staff and building a common language around MTSS. This slide deck is available to introduce MTSS to your team and begin establishing the common understanding. 

    • The Social-Emotional Learning Guide: MTSS supports the whole child, including providing support in social-emotional learning and behavior. This SEL guide introduces educators to what SEL is and how to embed SEL into an MTSS framework. 

    • MTSS Core Instruction Guide: Core instruction is the root of a student’s education experience. As the first Tier level, core instruction is provided to 100% of students. MTSS requires core instruction to be robust and targeted for the needs of all students. This guide dives into the hows of core instruction, providing strategies for educators on how to improve their core instruction practice. 

    MTSS Intervention Process Flow Chart final-1-1-2-1

    MTSS Intervention Process Flowchart Guide

    The MTSS Intervention Process Flowchart was created as a visual for MTSS processes and serves as a series of reminders that support problem-solvers when making critical decisions about students and instruction.

    Sign up for our weekly resources roundup and access the flowchart

    3. The First 100 Days of MTSS

    This calendar breaks down the first days of MTSS into three, 30-day “chunks.” While some elements will be ongoing throughout the year, this calendar provides guidance on what to highlight as an education leader at each stage. Remember, this is guidance for district and school leadership. Classroom teachers and other stakeholders will have other responsibilities during this time period. 

    a. Day 1 to Day 30: Identifying Challenges


    Important MTSS Steps:
    • Create a schedule for frequent check-ins with staff to measure how MTSS meetings and protocols are going (a quick survey or questionnaire) 

    • Using this data, create a plan to support staff members who may have difficulty with any aspect of MTSS 

    • Schedule the first round of screening of all students using a universal screening assessment

    • Use universal screening assessment data to assign students to appropriate tier levels and allocate resources to support each tier 

    • Check for the fidelity of MTSS, including intervention usage, task completion, the fidelity of core instruction practice, and MTSS meetings 

    • Monitor the creation of intervention plans and completion of intervention time, and check-in with MTSS teams to ensure progress monitoring data is being collected and the problem-solving process has begun

    Resources for This Time Period: 

    b. Day 30 to Day 60: Gathering Data and Measuring Progress


    Important MTSS Steps:
    • Send a communication as a reminder of the “why” of MTSS (vision) 

    • Continue to check in with staff to monitor MTSS understanding and responsibility 

    • Hold a district-wide meeting to discuss MTSS data and system-level health

    • Create proactive plans to address any concerns seen in MTSS data (including data on social-emotional learning, behavior, academics, and attendance)

    • Hold school-wide meetings to discuss data from MTSS surveys, progress towards MTSS goals, and trends seen in universal screening assessment and progress monitoring data

    Resources for This Time Period: 


    c. Day 60 to Day 90: Determining Impact and Planning Ahead


    Important MTSS Steps:
    • Continue to check in with staff to monitor MTSS understanding and responsibility 

    • Consider scheduling middle of the year professional development to retrain staff on MTSS processes and refresh on MTSS knowledge 

    • Facilitate the second round of universal screening assessment to measure student progress and identify students who need additional support 

    • Hold a district-wide meeting to reflect on middle-of-year data (universal screening assessment data, intervention plan data from progress monitoring, school-wide data on behavior, SEL, and attendance)

    • Hold school-wide meetings to reflect of middle of year data to identify areas of concern and monitor MTSS fidelity 

    • Plan for the second half of the year, building upon established MTSS practices and increasing MTSS fidelity

    Resources for This Time Period: 


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    4. 100 Days and Beyond

    MTSS does not stop at the end of this calendar. As a starting guide, this calendar aims to provide a framework of guidance for education leaders looking to revise or implement a system of MTSS at their school or within their district. 

    So, what happens after the first 100 days end? 

    MTSS is built upon a continuous problem-solving process. As you may have seen in this calendar, many of the events are repeated in each section. That is because these processes are repeated throughout the year. Education leaders will need to continuously check in with their staff to measure MTSS understanding and check for fidelity (check out the added resources for guidance on MTSS fidelity checks). Data collection and analysis will continue as students receive proactive intervention plans, and MTSS teams will continue to evaluate the health of core instruction and their MTSS practices. The data gathered in the first 100 days of MTSS can help leadership understand their strengths and challenges, and set the stage for a stronger MTSS practice moving forward. 

    About the Branching Minds Solution

    Branching Minds is an MTSS/RTI system-level education platform that brings together innovative, easy to use technology with the latest insights from the learning sciences to help drive student and school success, while making teachers and administrators work easier and more effective. Branching Minds connects data, systems, interventions, and stakeholders so that educators, administrators, and families can work better together to support students' holistic needs. 

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