MTSS tools

Featured in
Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Accessibility on June 27, 2022
You may have heard your child’s school talking about their use of an MTSS framework. Find out what that means and how MTSS works.

    Educators need to provide for the needs of all students. Many require behavioral support, which is sometimes challenging to give in public schools. In these cases, some form of academic intervention often works best.

    That’s where a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) comes in.

    MTSS provides teachers with ways to support students with special needs. It’s a professional learning framework that provides educators with a toolkit for teaching students with disabilities. This article looks at MTSS in more detail and discusses some tools it often uses.

    What is a multi-tiered system of support?

    An MTSS is a tiered professional development and learning structure. It uses a data-driven approach to match student assessments with their academic needs. The result is a high-quality learning framework that improves student success.

    Using data, educators create frameworks to ensure that most students respond well to core instruction. This data-driven approach also makes it easier to identify students who need more help.

    What are the three tiers of MTSS?

    MTSS has three tiers, which teachers can use to gather more information about students.

    Tier 1 – the whole class

    Every student in a general classroom falls into this tier. These students generally have strong problem-solving skills, which they can use in group work.

    The school monitors all students in the class to identify any who struggle. These students advance to Tier 2.

    Tier 2 – small group interventions

    Students in this tier receive targeted support via small group teaching sessions. Most also participate in Tier 1 lessons along with these interventions.

    These lessons focus on individual learners and their issues with decision-making and problem-solving. Progress monitoring is in place to identify students who don’t make progress in this tier.

    Tier 3 – intensive intervention

    More intensive support, such as individualized lessons, is offered to students in this tier. A student may still spend some time in the general classroom. But they’ll spend most of their time in sessions designed to give them the necessary resources.

    An example of MTSS in action

    Though the MTSS tiers are standard in all versions of the framework, their application can vary. Here are two common examples.

    Response to Intervention (RTI)

    This version of MTSS helps students who struggle academically. A school district may use it to identify learners who have special needs.

    In this case, the MTSS tiers exist to provide increasing levels of support based on benchmarks the school sets. Teachers also often use progress monitoring tools to assess students and determine their appropriate tier.

    RTI helps teachers identify early signs that a student may need particular resources. However, it’s not a special education program in and of itself.

    Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

    Schools often use PBIS to promote good behavior and safety skills.

    Students receive instruction on how they should behave. The teachings always have positive connotations. For example, the school may instruct students to “listen carefully” instead of telling them “don’t talk back.”

    Again, the tier system applies here. Students who struggle with the instructions move into the next tier. Those who continue to struggle receive more intensive teaching. Both RTI and PBIS can apply at every grade level.

    Tools that support MTSS

    Teachers have to engage in data-based decision-making with MTSS. Furthermore, MTSS is not a universal screening process. Differences in demographics and learning ability play into how such a system works.

    Thankfully, teachers have access to various tools and templates to help them create their MTSS frameworks.


    A rubric is any scoring tool that helps a teacher judge the quality of a student’s work. The tool also often details levels of quality for the criteria it defines.

    For example, imagine you’re a high school teacher working with English learners. You may use a rubric to assess how well a student speaks the language. That rubric may have quality indicators, such as “Outstanding,” “Good,” and “Requires Improvement.”

    In an MTSS framework, those falling into the “Requires Improvement” category are likely students who’d benefit from Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention.

    Rating scales

    Rating scales work similarly to rubrics. The key difference is they are closed-ended, meaning they focus on answering precise questions about performance.

    Simple examples include questionnaires that let people rate their satisfaction level on a scale of 1 to 5. In MTSS, a rating scale can provide the grounds for evidence-based intervention. Students who score poorly across multiple criteria are often candidates for special education.


    Surveys, like rating scales, use fixed options to answer questions. But with surveys, the student may be a more active participant.

    For example, a teacher could hand out a confidential survey to an entire class. That survey may contain questions that allow the student to assess how they believe they’re doing in certain subjects.

    Teachers can check these results to see if any students believe they need extra help. Of course, school districts can also use surveys as a way for teachers to assess their students.


    Checklists distill questions and criteria down into simple yes or no answers. Again, they involve asking a question or making a statement. The teacher then provides a simple yes or no response to that statement.

    A basic example could be, “does the student listen well in class?” A “no” for this question could indicate the student has a learning disability that affects attention. If combined with similarly negative responses to other questions, the checklist may indicate the need for intervention.

    Text to speech apps

    Unlike the other items on this list, text to speech software isn’t a form of assessment. Instead, it’s a tool teachers can use to provide special education to students.

    Teaching dyslexic children is a good example. Many of these students have trouble reading, which assessment tools may highlight.

    The assessment may trigger a teacher to provide access to a TTS app. The student can then use this app to read text aloud for them. As a result, the dyslexic child can keep pace with the general classroom because they no longer have to struggle with reading.

    How Speechify can help with MTSS implementation

    Speechify is a text to speech software with several classroom uses. Students can use Speechify to read text aloud, which is ideal for those with dyslexia. As a result, Speechify can be a helpful addition to the later tiers in an MTSS system.

    Speechify is available in 14 languages and has AndroidiOSmacOS  and Google Chrome versions. Try it for free today to see if it fits your classroom well.


    What are MTSS strategies?

    MTSS strategies help teachers assess the needs of their students.

    What are the benefits of MTSS?

    MTSS allows teachers to identify children with special needs.

    What’s the difference between MTSS and traditional education?

    The three-tier system and individual interventions are the most significant differences.

    What is the most important component of MTSS?

    A teacher who can interpret results effectively is a crucial component of MTSS.

    Recent Blogs

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Pick Your Speechify Tribe

    I have been flailing due to an eye injury on top of Lyme disease on top of long-covid and a herniated disc with neuropathy. Sitting hurts and propping a book while lying down is stressful. Anxiety over not keeping up, ADD with medication fluctuation and nystagmus of one eye, stigmatism with the other eye both before the retina injured has caused duress as an exam approaches in 35 days. I just need to get through these 500 pages and at least try the assignments. I believe this app will be the key.. thank you ever so much! It’s never too late to find a key and unlock the door to a new world!

    “I have ADHD and I love to read but have piles of book that I have never touched. I downloaded this app and it has helped me read more and obtain information better for school! Love this app , I recommend it to everyone!” - JENEMARIE

    “Love this app, I have eye problems and this app helps me read headache free. Plus it’s great for traders to listen to news and multitasks.” - JJJJJJMMMMMMM”

    “I like Reading books but I don’t like to read at the same time this is so nice and very much correct. Totally recommend!” - Amazing use this now!!! - HALL LACKS SI USA

    “I am a student who had dyslexia so is very very very helpful for me. A reading assignment that would normally take me 30+ minutes took 10! I will be using this very often.” - CHAMA NORLAND

    “I’m an audible learner. Speechify helps me to comprehend readings better than I am capable of reading the text silently.” - CANDI CL

    “This is probably top 5 of greatest apps ever, you can literally read alone an entire book in a day. Easily worth the cost of the app.” - TJV 34

    “Excellent for comprehending medical textbooks more quickly and thoroughly!! This is awesome for keeping up with latest surgical techniques and technology. Dr. K” - IMPLANTOPERATOR

    “Speechify saves my 70 year old eyes. I close them. I listen.” - WRANGLERSUPREME

    “I was dreading reading this long story but Speechify got it done now I can go ahead and take my college quiz.” - SUNCOP

    “I teach visually impaired students AND students with dyslexia. This app is a huge help to all of them. Thank you for helping those who need it most!!” - ETTETWO

    “I use this app to proofread before I publish chapters of my books and it works so good! 10/10 recommended.” - LOUIELEIUOL


    Take the dyslexia quiz and get an instant score. See if you are dyslexic or not.

    Take the quiz

    Listen and share everything on the go with our Soundbites. Try it for yourself.

    Try it yourself!
    “Congratulations for this lovely project. Speechify is brilliant. Growing up with dyslexia this would have made a big difference. I'm so glad to have it today.”
    - Sir Richard Branson
    "Speechify lets me listen to Goop blog posts out loud in the car and gets my friends through grad school. It's amazing for scripts."
    - Gwyneth Paltrow