Students with disabilities, like all students, benefit from school-wide implementation of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS). Most students with disabilities (95%) receive at least part of their instruction in general education, and 63% spend most of their time in general education (i.e., 80% or more of their time in general education). As a result, they benefit from the positive MTSS outcomes found in numerous studies, including sustained academic performance, reduced behavior problems, reduced inappropriate referrals to special education, and improved graduation rates.
When schools implement individualized education programs (IEPs) within a larger school-wide MTSS, students with disabilities are able to receive intensive intervention through data-based individualization at Tier 3 while ensuring access to aligned Tier 1 programming as well as Tier 2 intervention in other areas of identified need. Data collected through MTSS support IEP teams in developing and implementing the IEP [Sec. 300.320], including:
- Designing and providing specially designed instruction based on student need,
- Drafting present levels of academic and functional performance (PLAAFPs),
- Writing ambitious but realistic IEP goals,
- Evaluating progress toward IEP goals, and
- Intensifying specialized instruction for students who are not making adequate progress.
Implementation of MTSS can also assist districts and schools in meeting other obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and applicable state laws. When effectively implemented, a comprehensive MTSS approach provides data and infrastructure for implementing the following state and federal requirements:
- Free and appropriate public education [FAPE; Sec. 300.101]
- Initial evaluations [Sec. 300.301] and Re-evaluations [Sec. 300.303]
- Child find [Sec. 300.111]
- Least restrictive environment [LRE; Sec. 300.114]
- Identification of Students with Learning Disabilities [SLD; Sec. 300.307]