Kansas Multi-Tier System of Supports Evaluation

Note: This WestEd project was completed in 2015.


WestEd conducted a four-year evaluation of the implementation and outcomes of the Kansas Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS), designed to improve outcomes for all students by instituting system-level change across the classroom, school, district, and state.

Such systemic change is accomplished through development of a coherent continuum of evidence-based, systemwide practices to support a rapid response to each student’s academic and behavioral needs, and features frequent data-based monitoring for instructional decision making.

Kansas MTSS integrates what is known about the components of effective schools into a single framework for improved social and academic outcomes for all students. Core components include an evidence-based curriculum, high-quality instruction, a comprehensive assessment system, data-based decision making, effective intervention, fidelity of implementation, ongoing professional development, and leadership within an empowering school and district culture.

Funded by the Kansas State Department of Education, WestEd’s statewide evaluation addressed five research questions using a mixed-methods approach:

  • How many schools and districts are participating in MTSS?
  • Annually, how many schools and districts are exploring the use of MTSS to meet students’ academic and behavioral needs; adopting and installing components of MTSS (e.g., assessments, curriculum, instruction); or successfully implementing MTSS with fidelity?
  • How are students in schools and districts that are fully implementing MTSS performing?
  • How effective are the Kansas State Department of Education and MTSS Core Team activities in supporting statewide implementation of MTSS with fidelity by schools and districts?
  • How successful are schools and districts in sustaining MTSS?

To address these key questions, researchers used a variety of evaluation methods including case studies, interviews and focus groups, document review, and quantitative data analysis. The evaluation team developed a survey that tracked school-level MTSS implementation over time.

Key Findings

The WestEd evaluation produced a number of key findings:

  • The scope and reach of MTSS as a state­wide initiative is well established in Kansas. The state may be at a “tipping point” in terms of statewide scale-up and installation of MTSS across the state
  • Schools are demonstrating the hall­marks of strong implementation of the Kansas MTSS framework
  • Implementation of MTSS at the school level is increasingly consistent with the Kansas MTSS framework
  • MTSS is substantially contributing to improved student outcomes at the local level as well as resulting in benefits to teachers, improved instruction, and school functioning
  • The Kansas State Department of Education has established an effective statewide infrastructure to support and sustain MTSS implementation
  • MTSS implementation is being refined in Kansas to focus on the district rather than the individual school level, and to use an “integrated model” where the areas of reading, math, and behavior are approached simultaneously

Key Recommendations

To continue to support high-quality MTSS implementation with fidelity in schools and districts, the Kansas State Department of Education will want to:

  • Support robust and accurate statewide data collection to establish and monitor the impact of MTSS implementation on students
  • Continue to invest in district-level/districtwide training, support, and capacity development to further scale up MTSS across the state
  • Increase district-level/districtwide training and ongoing support to schools within districts

Learn more in the Kansas MTSS summative evaluation report, which:

  • Describes the current status of MTSS implementation in Kansas
  • Provides insights as to what it takes to implement MTSS with fidelity
  • Details recommendations for next steps

An evaluation brief (PDF) is also available.