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Build Your Strongest MTSS Tier 1: 
Tier 1 is for Everyone

A rock-solid foundation for MTSS, built to benefit everyone.  

When more learners can engage and learn from Tier 1, less will need intervention. And when they 
do need more focused support, they can keep learning from core curriculum, while they catch up. 

Below, you’ll find areas of focus proven to improve literacy, create access to learningsupport
, and challenge and engage learners across a range of abilities and backgrounds.  

The guides linked below give educators, administrators, and MTSS teams expert led
insight into building the most inclusive, effective, and powerful Tier 1 possible.


Access to learning for some, improves learning for all

Luis Pérez is a Disability and Digital Inclusion Lead for CAST and technical assistance specialist for the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials.

Better reading skills, vocabulary, pronunciation, and attention, from simply toggling on a simple video option: captions. 

Captions are one of the ways that some learners with disabilities can participate in learning. But the benefits go beyond learners with disabilities to everyone in class. The same goes for many other accessibility practices. 

Access is necessary for learners with disabilities to be included in instruction. But just like with captions, what is necessary for some learners, often benefits all learners

Accessibility practices should never substitute for an IEP or 504. However, incorporating accessible practices at Tier 1:

  • Can support literacy, vocabulary, attention, and classroom management
  • Is supported by research that shows benefits for all learners
  • Can help English Language Learners, learners with executive function challenges (like working memory and attention), or learners whose dyslexia may not be identified yet 
  • Can help learners with disabilities feel less stigmatized and more confident in using assistive tools to learn, and feel included in a general education setting

The Science of Reading at Tier 1:

Inclusive literacy instruction that reaches more learners

Sharon Plante, MEd, is a Chief Technology Integrator, Teacher Mentor, Student Advisor at The Southport School, an independent school for learners with language-based learning differences.

Better reading and comprehension skills. Improved test scores. Less need for intervention. Access to the general curriculum.

Improving student literacy in your classroom, school, or district is a win. But the impact goes beyond just education. Literacy betters our economies, literacy grows our communities, and literacy changes lives.

Evidence-based reading instruction improves the literacy and understanding of classrooms of diverse learners, including learners with dyslexia, or 20% of all students, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

Mississippi, for example, experienced state-wide gains in reading scores after passing Science of Reading laws in 2013.

In this section, we’ll break down the Science of Reading: what it is, what it isn’t, and how to apply it in your school, district, or classroom.

We’ll also explore why executive function skills boost decoding and comprehension. And, we’ll take a look at how literacy support tools can enhance reading instruction, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Support for English Language Learners:

Helping ELLs benefit from Tier 1 instruction.

Sarah Elia is an English as a New Language Teacher at Saugerties Central School District in New York, former president of New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and an education journalist.

English Language Learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing demographic in U.S. public schools. This group of learners brings vastly diverse experiences, backgrounds, strengths, and challenges to the classroom. 

Each English Learner has their own unique story. And in turn, each state, district, and school has their own approach to supporting their unique population of ELLs. 

But the challenge every English Learner shares is learning a new language while also learning from grade level content. And when English Learners are included in general education classrooms, educators often lack the resources, training, and time needed to help ELsengage with learning

If English Learners don’t feel like they belong or continue to fall behind their peers, they’re more likely to drop out of school. That’s just one reason why including English Language Learners in your MTSS Tier 1 design is helpful, no matter what EL programming looks like in your school, state or district. 

The guide linked below offers simple strategies and resources to help educators, administrators, and MTSS teams create learning environments where ELs:

  • Feel a greater sense of safety, belonging, and connection
  • Can gain cultural context and understanding from instruction
  • Are able to add richness and value to their communities
  • Have tools that help them understand the general curriculum, build vocabulary, and boost language acquisition, independently