Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS)

PBIS and MTSS ven diagram

What is MTSS?

Multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) is a framework that helps educators or staff within the district to provide academic and behavioral strategies for students with various needs. MTSS grew out of the integration of two other intervention-based frameworks which included Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS).

MTSS takes a proactive approach to identifying students with academic or behavioral needs. Early assessment and intervention for these students can help them catch up with their peers sooner. The key components of MTSS include:

  • Universal screenings

  • Tiers of interventions that can be amplified in response to levels of need

  • Ongoing data collection and continual assessment

  • Schoolwide approach to expectations and supports

  • Parent involvement

MTSS uses three tiers of support to assist all students at various levels. These three tiers include:

  • Tier 1 - Universal (Around 80% of students): This is the largest tier of MTSS and PBIS. Tier 1 instructions encompass the entire school with core instruction and basic interventions. The common language and expectations help to build a positive relationship between staff, students, and families. Tier 1 helps with a supportive environment.

  • Tier 2 - Secondary (Around 15% of students): Some students need slightly more help and direction than Tier 1 provides for students to meet academic and behavioral goals. Tier 2 interventions include small group settings, specialized groups, mental health treatment, or Check-in/Check-outs with staff.

  • Tier 3 - Tertiary (<10% of students): A sample of students that may have significant challenges that need more support than Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 3 gives students individualized support which can even include support from outside agencies.

MTSS graphic

What is PBIS?

Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a school-wide systems approach geared to establishing positive student culture and individualized behavior support necessary to create a safe and effective learning environment for all students

PBIS is an ongoing commitment to supporting students, educators, and families through systems change. PBIS helps students experience improved behavioral, social, emotional, and academic outcomes; schools and programs reduce their use of exclusionary discipline practices and improve their overall climate.

PBIS graphic


Currently, there is research that supports PBIS when implemented with fidelity can effectively reduce classroom disruptions and student suspensions through a school-wide, systematic, tiered intervention approach, which leads to increased student achievement.

The goals of PBIS in NASD are to:

  • Increase academic achievement levels of all students

  • Improve attendance by establishing a culture of attendance, acknowledging outstanding attendance, and supporting students at risk for chronic absenteeism.

  • Make data-based decision-making on behaviors and reinforce it across all settings.

  • Increase consistent use and effect of research-based behavioral strategies among all school staff at school-wide, classroom, and individual student levels.

  • Reduce the use of reactive discipline measures from behavior referrals and consider restorative practices and reteaching of desired initiatives.

  • Increase the capacity of schools and districts to address over- and under-representation of students by ethnicity relative to discipline, disability status, and academic achievement with

    access to data on these outcomes.

How can you support PBIS at home and in the community?

PBIS is most effective when the schools and community are unified. Key components to use PBIS at home include:

  • Reviewing the school’s expectations

  • Use the same terminology and use the behavior expectations at home (ex: being safe, responsible, and respectful).

  • Parents and family members are encouraged to reach out to your student’s school to be a part of the TIER 1 PBIS team.

  • Provide positive reinforcements for desired outcomes.


If you are a local business, community partner, or NASD family member and would like to learn more about PBIS, contribute to the ideas of PBIS, support the initiative, or ask questions, please reach out to your school principal or a principal of a building closest to you.