Multi-Tiered Systems of Support


Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), also known as Response to Intervention (RTI), is a process by which schools use data to identify the academic and behavioral supports each and every student needs to be successful in school and leave school ready for life. The process provides students with evidence-based instruction and interventions matched to their needs and monitors student progress to improve their educational outcomes.

The MTSS process also allows educators to evaluate the overall health of their system and target resources by providing the necessary data to determine which elements of the education system are performing adequately and which require further development. MTSS is a decision-making framework composed of evidence-based practices in assessment and instruction. MTSS is not a packaged program, set of assessments or curriculum that can be purchased.

MTSS is also a framework for educating all children to high levels of proficiency. It is driven by general education, though it has been demonstrated to be effective for students in special programs (e.g., Special Education, English Language Learners, etc.) The MTSS process occurs within Universal, Supplemental, and Intensive levels of instruction. Each of these levels provides increasingly intensive instruction, based on student needs, to support student progress toward proficiency. The essential components that must be in place to ensure that MTSS is implemented effectively are listed below. Critical to each and every one of these components is the fidelity of implementation.

Essential Components

Iowa’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports Process

Have a question? Want to know more? Contact a Central Rivers AEA Regional Administrator or School Improvement Consultant!

MTSS Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles describe the organization’s beliefs and philosophy pertaining to quality assurance and performance improvement. The principles should guide what the organization does, why it does it and how. Everything we do is guided by this set of principles that define our character and culture. These enduring qualities are the shared convictions we bring to our professional and personal conduct.

  •  We believe that all students can learn and achieve at high levels, and everyone is responsible for each child’s success.
  •  We believe that the Iowa Early Learning Standards and Iowa Core represent the knowledge and skills for all students to learn.
  •  We believe that collaborative inquiry is essential to impact student achievement.
  •  We believe that the use of efficient, ongoing assessments will enable informed decisions about instruction for all students.
  •  We believe using evidence-based practices with fidelity, at multiple levels of intensity, will allow all students to achieve at high levels.
  •  We believe that specific, short-term improvement goals will be developed and shared, and the collective efforts to attain them are constantly
    monitored and adjusted to ensure success.
  •  We believe that continuous and sustained professional development is essential to ensure implementation fidelity.
  •  We believe that leadership at all levels is critical in implementing and sustaining change that enhances student success.

MTSS Family Engagement

The Family & Educator Partnership (formerly the Family & Educator Connection/ Parent & Educator Connection) is redesigning the focus and work of the program to emphasize a systemic approach to develop and sustain effective partnerships between families, educators, and community providers to promote success for all children and youth with disabilities. Through a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), the FEP will provide resources and services to encourage partnerships and collaboration between families, AEA, and school personnel.

Here you will find information about the FEP program, instructions/tips on how to best use these resources, and a list of materials.

Department of Education

Special Education Resources for Families and Educators

FEP Family Engagement Materials

Our work is designed around common areas of need and a framework of transition points from birth to 21. This is when families, children/students, and schools have opportunities to work together in positive ways to improve outcomes for children and young adults.

Family & Educator Partnership Program Services

Statewide FEP Brochure

FEP website brochure


Communication Tips

Discussion Guide

It’s Report Card Time

Tips to Prepare for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Transition Points Pre-K through High School

Home Placements (foster care, JCS, custody issues)

Resource Materials are in development and will be posted when available.

Child Find/ Evaluation & Eligibility Process

FEP Child Find Booklet

FEP Child Find Booklet, Spanish

Procedural Safeguards

Procedural Safeguards Manual Grayscale

Procedural Safeguards Manual


Positive Student Profile

Transition Toolbox 


IEP Basics

IEP Bookmark

Team Card

What to Expect at an IEP Meeting

Parent Information for Initial IEP Meeting

Parent Information for Reevaluation

Planning for Your Child’s IEP Meeting

Positive Student Profile

Change in Programming/ Service Needs

Resource Materials are in development and will be posted when available.

Post-Secondary Transition Preparation

Transition Parent Guide: Planning for the Future

Transition Job Skills to Work on at Home, School & Community


504 vs IEP comparison

Behavior FBA/BIP

FBA Brochure

BIP Brochure

Clinical vs. Educational Services

Clinical vs. Educational Services

Department of Education FEP Page

Special Education Resources for Families & Educators