MTSS: The Oil for Literacy and SEL 

MTSS (Multi-tiered System of Supports) has been an integral part of many schools which includes core instruction as well as interventions. Literacy and Math instruction are main staples of MTSS throughout the day. SEL (Social-emotional Learning) should be part of MTSS as well. 

In 2021 the Council of Chief State School Officers with collaboration with CASEL published The MTSS SEL Toolkit. According to the document, “They believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While SEL and MTSS complement one another, simply trying to advance both efforts in parallel without intentional integration is a missed opportunity to build coherence and to foster a system of support that efficiently – and equitably – addresses the needs of the whole child.”

The familiar MTSS framework includes three levels of support. Tier 1 includes high-level instruction, evidence-based practices, high-leverage practices, differentiated instruction, and data-driven instructional decision-making (Jackson, 2008). Tier 1 SEL practices support students’ academic, social, and emotional learning. These practices provide students opportunities to develop and apply social-emotional competencies, foster a positive and supportive climate, and produce positive relationships creating the conditions for students to engage in learning across all content areas. 

Tier 1 SEL practices involve embedding practices of academic instruction in a proactive manner, setting the foundation for application and generalization of appropriate social-emotional skills both in and out of school. SEL practices are standards aligned, integrated with academic instruction, positive, preventive, and connected to academic and behavioral expectations. 

At Tier 2, schools provide small group, standardized academic interventions or targeted behavioral or mental health supports using validated intervention programs to support students identified as at-risk. Tier 3 includes intensive intervention for students not responding to Tier 2 through instruction and supports that are intensified and individualized based on student need. 

At all levels, attention should be on selection of evidence-based practices and fidelity of implementation, with consideration for cultural and linguistic responsiveness and recognition of student strengths (Center for Multi-tiered System of Supports). 

With a healthy MTSS framework serves as oil for SEL, literacy, and other content areas producing a seamless system for all students, increasing academics and social-emotional learning.

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