Team Objective

Approximate Time to Complete: 1 Hour

In this step, build background knowledge about MTSS-R and the Continuous Improvement Cycle.

What is MTSS and MTSS-R?

Multi-tiered systems of support in reading (MTSS-R) are comprehensive and integrated systems of reading instruction and intervention designed to ensure that all students meet essential reading goals and objectives.

MTSS-R is:

  • Comprehensive, in that all students are supported to meet these reading objectives.
  • Integrated, in that the multiple tiers of reading instruction and intervention are aligned to make sure students do not fall through the cracks.
  • Differentiated, in that reading instruction and intervention services are adjusted for students based on their individual reading needs and are provided through both group and individual approaches.

Five Key Elements of MTSS-R

To improve MTSS-R implementation and student outcomes, make a commitment to implement these five MTSS-R elements:

  • Core Reading Instruction and Intervention: Provide effective evidence-based reading instruction and intervention to students.
  • Data Use: Use student reading data and MTSS-R implementation data to make sure students stay on track for important reading goals.
  • Professional Development and Coaching: Provide workshops, job-embedded technical assistance, and instructional coaching to continuously support and improve implementation of evidence-based practices.
  • MTSS-R School Leadership: Ensure school teams and leadership are established to support and sustain high-quality implementation.
  • Mutual Support Involving Families and School: Collaborate with parents and families to support literacy development at school and at home.

Continuous Improvement Cycle

Strong implementation of an effective MTSS-R approach takes time. It requires using a cycle of continuous improvement to make regular adjustments based on data to improve implementation. The continuous improvement cycle begins with a comprehensive self-evaluation of your school’s current reading approach. This self-evaluation—or reading system audit—will help you determine your major priorities for action planning to build and solidify your MTSS–R. As you improve your MTSS-R, improvements in student reading outcomes should follow.

There are four steps to a continuous improvement cycle:

  1. Evaluate: Teams systematically collect, review, and analyze data on MTSS-R implementation and student reading achievement. They identify patterns in the data and determine next steps for improving MTSS-R implementation.
  2. Prioritize: Teams use data results to identify 1-2 important focus areas for supporting reading instruction and intervention.
  3. Plan: Teams create an action plan that specifies their prioritized focus area and key implementation actions to support instruction and intervention.
  4. Implement: Teams carry out their action plan and collect MTSS-R implementation and student reading performance data to determine the impact of their implementation activities. Over time, teams assess if their implementation activities have improved student reading outcomes, or whether additional actions or adjustments to their implementation plan are needed.


Watch this video with your team and discuss what you learned.


  • Identify the basic elements of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in Reading (MTSS-R)
  • Understand how MTSS-R can improve student reading outcomes
  • Understand the key steps needed to set up and use MTSS-R effectively