• Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

    MTSS is “a framework for supporting the academic and behavioral needs of all students within schools and districts in order to improve outcomes for students and provide safe school climates". MTSS is frequently divided into two separate components. The most commonly referred to intervention system is Response to Intervention or RtI which focuses primarily on areas of academic need. However, because research indicates that there is a strong correlation between academics and student behavior, a second system exists to support students with behavioral concerns. This system is known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports or PBIS. Sometimes the acronyms are used interchangeably mainly because there is some overlap between the two systems. Historically, districts nationwide have implemented one of the two systems from kindergarten through the twelth grade. Some states, including Rhode Island have integrated the two programs because of their shared aims. 

    Response to Intervention (RtI)

    Response to Intervention (RTI) is defined as “the practice of providing high-quality instruction and interventions matched to student need, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals, and applying child response data to important educational decisions” (Batsche et al., 2005). Based on a problem-solving model, RTI provides services/intervention as soon as the student demonstrates a need. Focused primarily on addressing academic problems, RTI has emerged as the new way to think about both disability identification and early intervention assistance for the “most vulnerable, academically unresponsive children” in schools and school districts (Fuchs & Deshler, 2007, p. 131, emphasis added). 

    Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

    Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is based on a problem-solving model and aims to prevent inappropriate behavior through teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a process that is consistent with the core principles of RTI. Similar to RTI, PBIS offers a range of interventions that are systematically applied to students based on their demonstrated level of need, and addresses the role of the environment as it applies to development and improvement of behavior problems. Critical features of PBIS are expectations defined, expectations taught, acknowledgment system, a system for responding to challenging behavior, a system for monitoring and decision-making, and a management system. 

    While PBIS has very much been a part of the curriculum at Melville Elementary School, it is a new initiative at Portsmouth High School. The Building Leadership Teams (BLTs) at both schools will be working with the Sherlock Center at Rhode Island College throughout the school year to identify needs, implement behavioral interventions, and evaluate progress.

    Structure for MTSS

    Both RTI and PBIS are grounded in differentiated instruction. Each approach delimits critical factors and components to be in place at the Universal (Tier 1), Targeted Group (Tier 2), and Individual (Tier 3) levels. MTSS will improve outcomes for students with, or at-risk for academic, social-emotional and behavioral difficulties through a “whole child approach.” MTSS will enhance family/community partnerships and provide support from Higher Education. 

    Grant Information and Relationship with the Sherlock Center at Rhode Island College 

    RI MTSS (Rhode Island Multi-Tiered System of Supports) is a training and technical assistance opportunity that will provide professional development and systems development support for the implementation of an integrated model of supporting academic (RTI) and behavioral (PBIS) interventions, strategies and practices. RI MTSS is a joint venture by RIDE (Rhode Island Department of Education) and the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College.

    Source credit: Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College.