Multi-Tier Systems of Support

What is MTSS?

A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a systemic, continuous-improvement framework in which data-based problem solving and decision-making is practiced across all levels of the educational system for supporting students. The framework of MTSS is a “way of doing business,” which utilizes high quality evidence-based instruction, intervention, and assessment practices to ensure that every student receives the appropriate level of support to be successful. A Multi-Tiered System of Supports helps schools and districts to organize resources through alignment of academic standards and behavioral expectations, implemented with fidelity and sustained over time, in order to enable every child to successfully reach his/her fullest potential

Instead of the “waiting for failure” assessment model, 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 screening of all students early in the school year
  • Tiers of interventions that can be amplified in response to levels of need
  • Ongoing data collection and continual assessment
  • School-wide approach to expectations and supports
  • Parent involvement

The integrated instruction model of MTSS uses collected data to assess student needs and provide them with interventions in appropriate tiers.

The Multi-Tiered System of Support provides different levels of support based on student needs.

MTSS Pyramid

Tier 1 – Universal or primary – Majority of students (75-90%)

As the largest tier, and the foundation for the entire framework, Tier 1 encompasses the entire school with core instructions and basic interventions. This structure helps to build positive relationships between staff and students. It includes proactive classroom management strategies aimed at creating a supportive atmosphere. Students who do not respond to these interventions may move into Tier 2.

Tier 2 – Secondary – Small groups of students (10-25%)

Some students need a little extra assistance in meeting academic and behavioral goals, and it is in Tier 2 that these individuals receive that help. Often these interventions and supports are delivered in small group settings, such as reading groups. Check-In/Check-Out (CICO) interventions are often a part of Tier 2, as well. This targeted support allows students to work toward catching up with their peers.

Tier 3 – Tertiary – Individual students (< 10%)

A subset of students has significant challenges that do not respond to the interventions and supports in Tier 1 or Tier 2. Tier 3 gives these students individualized supports and can include assistance from outside agencies such as behavioral counselors or family therapists.

MTSS tiers help schools to organize levels of supports based on intensity so that students receive necessary instruction, support, and interventions based on need. As such, student identities are not based on tier levels. Instead, individuals are identified as students in need of supports. This helps educators to respond appropriately and provide students with the assistance they need to prosper in the classroom.


Key Terms

Universal Screening: A procedure in which all students are given a periodic screening assessment for the purpose of identifying those students in need of specialized interventions.

Progress-Monitoring: A practice used to frequently assess students’ academic and behavioral progress to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.

Response to Intervention (RTI): A specific, legal means to qualify a student for special education services that can be an outgrowth of a Multi-Tiered System of Support.

Parents play a critical role in supporting what their children are learning in school. Research is clear that the more parents are involved in student learning, the higher the student achievement. Parents can be involved in the process by communicating any concerns to the child’s teacher, providing insight into their child’s learning and development and assisting with identified interventions at home.

Tiered Support Services

District Personnel

Our Director of MTSS is responsible for the development, implementation, and monitoring of all general education mental health and behavior supports in the district.  The director leads all planning, review, implementation, and professional development for academic/behavior intervention systems utilizing the multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) in alignment with the district’s mission and vision.  The director facilitates behavioral and mental health support for students, families, and schools in partnership with MyAlliance school embedded community agency partners utilizing the interconnected systems framework (ISF).  The director coaches classroom teachers, administrators, and MyAlliance partners in the implementation of tier 1 positive behavioral intervention and supports (PBIS) and tier 2 and tier 3 social-emotional and behavioral interventions.  The director manages the Behavioral Healthcare software platform, Medicaid billing, and state/federal funding source reporting requirements that support this work.  The director participates on the District Continuous Improvement Team (DCIT) in leading their areas of responsibility.  

Goals include:

  1. Increase effective and efficient access to mental health and community resources
  2. Create sustainable ISF and MTSS systems to promote wellness and meet the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.
  3. Increase parent and community awareness about strategies to build resiliency and overcome adverse childhood experiences impacting student mental and behavioral health.
  4. Manage funding streams supporting this work.
  5. Coordinate and coach the building PBIS teams.
  6. Lead the district PBIS, SEL, MTSS, ISF, and Resiliency mission. 

Oakridge has both an elementary school psychologist in the district and an elementary school psychologist.  

School psychologists are a valuable resource to our students.  When utilized appropriately, they can help schools and districts use limited dollars more effectively while simultaneously improving school and student outcomes. School psychologists can support the effective development, implementation, and evaluation of multi-tiered systems of support.

  1. School psychologists are trained to design, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive range of interventions for students at risk for academic, social–emotional, or mental and behavioral health concerns.
  2. School psychologists are uniquely trained to provide a comprehensive range of services that enable schools to implement comprehensive systems of student supports, improve school and district effectiveness, and support improved outcomes for all students.
  3. School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community for all students. 
  4. School psychologists have expertise in collecting and analyzing data that can be utilized in progress monitoring; helping to develop indicators of academic, social, emotional, and behavioral health of students; and utilizing data to assist administrators in developing school improvement plans.
  5. School improvement efforts are most effective when parents, families, and the school work together. School psychologists collaborate with parents and families to promote treatment integrity and improve intervention success at home and school.
  6. Students with the most significant needs may require wraparound supports available in the community. School psychologists facilitate collaboration and coordination between the home, school, and community providers to promote student success.

Oakridge MS/HS campus has three school counselors that enhance our students' academic, career, and social/emotional development through the implementation of a school counseling program. 

Our school counselors implement school counseling programs addressing the needs of all students. Guided by review of student data, school counselors deliver instruction, appraisal, and advisement to students in Tier 1 and 2 and collaborate with other specialist instructional/behavioral support personnel, educators, and families to provide appropriate instruction and learning supports for students in Tier 2 within the school’s MTSS program. School counselors also work collaboratively with other educators to remove systemic barriers for all students and implement specific learning supports that assist in academic and behavioral success.

Oakridge has one school social worker who serves exclusively special education students K-12 and two social workers who serve the general education students.    

Social workers play a critical role in schools and educational settings.  Social workers working within school systems provide services to students to enhance their emotional well-being and improve their academic performance. School social workers are usually employed by the school district or an agency that is contracted with the school district to provide services. School social workers are often called on to help students, families, and teachers address problems such as truancy, social withdrawal, overaggressive behaviors, rebelliousness, and the effects of special physical, emotional, or economic problems (Barker, 2003).  School social workers often also address issues such as substance abuse and sexuality issues in the higher grade levels.

Oakridge Public Schools has one Student Support Services & Intervention Specialist at Oakridge Lower Elementary and one at Oakridge Upper Elementary.  They believe each child, in each school, deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.  They support individuals, groups, and systems through the application of schoolwide positive behavior student supports (PBIS), restorative justice practices, and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) through the lens of our Whole Child Model. They also provide leadership to support classroom and school-wide behavior management strategies.

One MTSS Specialist is provided at Oakridge Upper Elementary (Dawn Porter) and one at Oakridge Lower Elementary (Joanna McGee).  They are responsible for push-in and pull-out support in planning instruction and/or adaptation of the instructional program using the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) model to facilitate student learning in accordance with district policies and state guidelines. They design and implement specific strategies designed to promote academic growth.  They evaluate and measure the effectiveness of specific MTSS strategies and interventions in order to refine tiered levels of support.  

Oakridge Lower Elementary has five interventionists and Oakridge Upper Elementary has two.  They are directly responsible for implementing interventions for individual students or small groups.  The role requires clear definition of the student problem(s), selection of evidence-based intervention strategies or programs, use of data to determine if the intervention is effective, and measurement of how the intervention is carried out to ensure that it is implemented with integrity.  

The Interventionist is a grant-funded position.  Title IA is a federal grant awarded to schools based on census poverty levels. It is designed to close the achievement gap of underserved populations. The Title IA Interventionist works with Title IA eligible students in the areas of Reading, Writing, and/or Math.

These interventionists focus on serving secondary students who are demonstrating academic behaviors that are a barrier to earning credits toward graduation.  Interventions are primarily focused on relational capacity, organization, and focus on life skills that will lead to academic success.

Oakridge Upper Elementary has a part-time Success Coach who believes each child deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.  The Success Coach support individual students, small groups, and building systems through the application of schoolwide positive behavior student supports (PBIS), restorative justice practices, and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) through the lens of our Whole Child Model and MyAlliance community partners.

The District ESL (English as a Second Language) and At-Risk Student Specialist responsible for providing direct services to the district’s K-12 English language learners, including ensuring that regulations are met and that ESL students are supported appropriately in their academic and language acquisition development. This position also involves providing the necessary interventions to positively impact the education of the Oakridge K-12 at-risk student population including homeless children (McKinney-Vento).   

Our School Safety/Security Specialist establishes school security services that include the following:

  • aligns with evidence-based practices
  • focuses on prevention
  • provides for students mental health
  • integrates physical and psychological safety
  • engages families as partners
  • engages in continuous professional development for school safety/security practices.
  • establishes written safety/security procedures and process for students and staff.
  • monitors data demonstrating positive impact of security program/process as part of the MTSS framework.
  • aligns efforts to the intent, purpose, and implementation of MTSS.

MyAlliance Partners

Hackley Community Care is the primary care provider for the Oakridge Health Center.  They employ the Physicians Assistant who serves students ages 5 – 21 years of age.  The health center can coordinate medical care with your current family physician, and can be your primary medical home if you do not have one. The Oakridge Health Center accepts most private insurances, Medicaid and offers a sliding fee scale program to those that qualify. The Physician's Assistant is available during the school year and select times when school is closed.  If you have questions regarding days / hours of service or need medical care please call the main number at Oakridge Health Center, we are here to assist you.  

The goal of our Behavioral Health (BH) staff is to help each student enhance their physical and emotional health to improve their quality of life.  The Behavioral Health Service Program is designed to provide counseling, mental health education, and other community resources to youth through the care of a licensed Behavioral Health Provider. 

Our BH staff utilizes a variety of tools and teaching methods to help students cope with everyday life, increase social skills, improve their emotional expressions and recognize when they need professional help.

Our Behavioral Health team provides:

  • Mental Health assessments and referrals
  • Depression screening
  • Community referral services
  • Ongoing therapy

We coordinate all of our services with your child’s primary care provider to manage your child’s health while they are at school. We follow all applicable federal and state laws for minor consent for treatment.

The Oakridge Health Center operated by Hackley Community Care is proud to provide dental services to our students.  The health center had three dental operatories that provide the following services:

  • Preventative care: cleanings, fluoride, sealants, education, nutrition
  • Emergency care: extractions, pain management
  • Restorative care: fillings, dentures
  • Oral exams
  • X-rays

Our Dentist and Registered Dental Hygienists provide excellent preventative care so you can put forth a confident smile. Our state of the art dental suites are the latest in dental technology. 

The Health Project Hub community health worker serves the Oakridge community.  

A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

A community health worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.

The Health Project Hub helps people who:

  • Live in Muskegon County
  • Have trouble with health insurance such as:
    • Don’t have health insurance
    • Are on Medicaid or Medicare
    • Need help paying for insurance
  • Are adults, senior citizens, or pregnant/young mothers

Community Health Workers will:

  • Visit you regularly
  • Learn your health needs
  • Help you set and reach your personal health goals
  • Help you complete a “back on track” plan.
  • Learn about your chronic diseases and help you manage them
  • Help you make healthy choices
  • Find social services and low-cost healthcare for you

This role helps connect Oakridge families to supports throughout our amazing community, and find the right fit for each family’s need. This role is housed in Oakridge Lower Elementary, but is able to support youth and families all throughout the district.

This role within the district is to serve as a liaison between school and parents/caregivers to help address the barriers and the needs of one to the other regarding the behavioral and mental health of the students and families.  She supports parents and ensures they feel empowered as their child’s caregiver, encourages them to seek out resources within the community, and helps them engage in their child’s education and mental health needs. If necessary, she will connect the family with other Health West services and ensure they have the knowledge to navigate the system.  Here is an overview flyer of this service.  

Access Services

Students who may benefit most from a Parent Outreach Specialist are identified by school staff or community partners and referred to this service.

We believe everyone has the potential to achieve their dreams. Some just need extra support and assistance along the pathway to achieve their potential. In 2012, MDHHS created Pathways to Potential and partnered with Oakridge Public Schools. Pathways is an innovative approach to providing human services that targets five outcome areas:

  • reducing chronic absenteeism
  • education
  • health
  • safety
  • self-sufficiency.

The Pathways to Potential approach relies on three critical elements to help clients reach their greatest potential:

  1. We go where the client is located.
  2. We work one-on-one with families to identify and remove barriers and connect them to a network of services. 
  3. Engaging community partners and school personnel in our efforts to help families find their pathway to success.

DHHS services often include providing clothing, school supplies, transportation, utilities, mentoring, housing support, cash assistance, food assistance, childcare assistance, state Emergency relief assistance, and Medicaid.  

A Success Coach from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services - Pathways to Potential Program is assigned to Oakridge Public Schools. The MDHHS team connects families to local resources and helps resolve barriers for school attendance.

The Pathways to Potential office seeks to improve school attendance and outcomes by working together with families, schools, and communities. Rather than working out of the local MDHHS office, success coaches are stationed in schools making them more available to families. Being in the community and where families are means that success coaches are able to quickly forge relationships with students, families, and community partners. Through these connections, success coaches, community school coordinators, and schools have seen an increase in parental and community involvement. Lastly, Pathways seeks to build sustainable support networks for schools and families. Recognizing that the most meaningful support comes from our "neighbors," we reach out to local businesses, faith-based organizations, and other members of the community to help build a thriving and self-supporting network around families and schools. 

DHHS services often include providing clothing, school supplies, transportation, utilities, mentoring, housing support, cash assistance, food assistance, childcare assistance, state Emergency relief assistance, and Medicaid.  



The purpose of the MYalliance Mental Health Systems Coordinator at the MAISD is to support and assist in Mental Health Systems placement and utilization in the school districts and ensure we can sustain funding for these systems moving forward.

The School Climate and Culture Consultant for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) works as the director of the Project SAFE Grant Focusing on creating supportive and safe school environments that promote and teach positive student behaviors and provide a continuum of behavioral and mental health supports for students within Muskegon County schools.


Project Safe Grant-funded Behavior Support Consultants from the Muskegon Area ISD support Oakridge Public Schools.  This support and leadership through this grant is temporary with the following intended outcomes:

  • Increase academic achievement and create a positive, trauma-sensitive climate and culture
  • Reduce exclusionary practices (suspensions, expulsions, time out of class, etc. )
  • Increase student and staff attendance
  • Increase fidelity of systems installation, data use, and implementation of evidence-based practices at Tiers 1, 2, and 3
  • Increase district capacity to support the implementation

Examples of Service

  • Assist districts and buildings with setting up the structures necessary to:
    • Establish high-functioning leadership teams
    • Collect and analyze data for multiple purposes (comprehensive needs assessment, ongoing progress monitoring, problem-solving, etc.)
    • Implement a multi-tiered service delivery model
  • Assist buildings in identifying evidence-based practices to support student needs
  • Administer assessments with district and school leadership teams such as the District Capacity Assessment (DCA), School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Tiered Fidelity Inventory (SWPBIS TFI), etc.

Fellowship Church and Wolf Lake United Methodist Church are dear partners in serving our community.  Through Kid's Hope USA and with a strict understanding of separation of church and state laws, volunteers simply mentor one student for one hour each week for one school year.  The relationships often time endure for years.  Mentors support the emotional and social development of students through the power of quality adult-to-child relationships.  Volunteers are recruited, screened, trained, and supervised by Kids Hope USA church director and school personnel.  

Kids Hope Mission:

Build life-changing relationships one at a time:  One Child.  One Hour.  One Church.  One School. 

Empowered Kids provides school-aged children with encouragement, empowerment, and life-changing skills that empower them to become better learners. This is done by teaching the students tools that they can use into their adulthood. There is no cost to the student, family, school and no insurance is needed. They are a donor/grant-supported non-profit organization.

Empowered Kids mentors provide Positive Behavioral Modification (taught in the school) to students and care providers so the students can be better learners.  Along the path, they’ll be empowered with Hope, Identity, Purpose, and Truth.


To teach children how to heal from life’s hurts, so they can enjoy their education and grow to be all they were created to be. Care is offered in the school, during the school day where it is easier for the student to attend the sessions.


To heal the child of life’s hurts positively affecting the family while creating a healthier, more hopeful future and community.


It only takes 10% of a community to decide to do life in a healthier way (healed and finding hope, identity, purpose, and truth) to change that student, school then the communities’ direction. 

Access Services

Students who may benefit most from Empowered Kids are identified by school staff or community partners and referred to this service.