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Systems for Student Success Office

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Academies: SY2021-2022

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is pleased to offer eight intensive professional development Academies designed to aid school and district teams with the implementation of tiered systems of instruction and support. Any school and/or district may apply for these MTSS Academies. However, please note that first priority will be given to schools that are designated as underperforming or chronically underperforming and/or schools requiring focused/targeted or broad/comprehensive support. Additional teams will be accepted for participation based on availability, readiness, and relative need.

Districts are encouraged to submit applications for school and/or district teams that are ready and committed to participate in a rigorous, multi-year professional development opportunity. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and we will take stock of submissions after Friday, April 16th, to make a first round of enrollment decisions. For questions, please reach out to Rebecca Shor.

When applying to one of the MTSS Academies, please also be aware of the following information:

  • Evaluation & Improvement Efforts: As participants in DESE MTSS Academies, district and school teams agree to participate in any ongoing evaluation and improvement efforts. The following is a list of possible school- and district-level data that may be shared between academy partners, DESE, and/or potential third party evaluators.
    • Participation Data (e.g., attendance in trainings, technical assistance sessions, etc.)
    • Implementation Data (i.e., measures of implementation fidelity that could be reported by the school/district teams, by the Academy provider, or through observations and surveys, etc.)
    • School and District Outcome Data (e.g., suspension data, school climate data, attendance data, office discipline referrals, MCAS scores, etc.)
  • Possible Impact of COVID-19 on MTSS Academy Budgets and Activities: Please note that DESE's ability to add a new cohort of teams to each Academy is contingent on the availability of the necessary funds. In light of the extreme fiscal demands that the COVID pandemic has put on both state and federal budgets, there is a chance that DESE will not be able to accept as many teams as currently planned. We do not currently expect this to be the case but would be remiss in not mentioning the possibility. Likewise, DESE is considering how the COVID-19 pandemic may have a longer-term impact on both the content and delivery of professional learning supports. In particular, scheduled trainings and convenings are subject to change depending on the local and national guidelines on social distancing.

Academy Update:

Math Academy has reached full capacity and is now only accepting applications on a waitlist basis.

Below you will find information and application links for each of the MTSS Academies. In addition, the Department hosted a webinar on March 24th about all eight Academy offerings. You may access the slide deck: MTSS Academies Webinar, March 24, 2021 . You may also access the applications using the following:

MTSS Academies Application:

Culturally Responsive Practice Leadership Academy

Culturally Responsive Practice Leadership Academy (District Focus): BlackPrint Consulting will offer a multi-year academy targeted toward teams of influential and strategic district leaders. The CRPL Academy aims to support district leadership in building internal local capacity to weave culturally responsive practices and a racial equity lens throughout their pedagogy, policies, structures, and systems. To this end, the academy will support leaders as they learn the foundational content of equity and create strategic goals and implementation plans to embed culturally responsive and equitable practices across their districts. In small cohorts, districts will examine content on the intersection of race, culture, class, and schooling, accompanied by personalized consulting and guidance towards the construction and execution of district-wide plans.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Academy

Culturally Responsive Teaching Academy (School Focus): AdaptiveX will offer a Culturally Responsive Teaching Academy focused on building school-level leadership, knowledge, and expertise in culturally responsive teaching. Schools select teams of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) Leaders to be trained in research-based "Promising Practices." These leaders support teachers on-site through a dynamic peer learning cycle consisting of six modules.

Inclusive Instruction

Inclusive Instruction Academy

Join internationally recognized leaders in the field for a 3-year Inclusive Instruction Academy! The Academy has a focus on Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

All New Teams Get the Following Supports

  • Networking Planning Event Series
  • Monthly Planning Newsletters
  • Monthly Leadership Webinars
  • Online Personalized Planning Support Sessions
  • 3 Full Day Site-Specific UDL 101 PD Sessions
  • 6 Remote Coach Support Sessions
  • Online PLC Participation
  • Online Book Club Participation
  • Book Group Facilitation Manuals
  • 30 Virtual Training Modules
  • 1 Train-the-Trainer Graduate Course Seat

You can learn more about this by reviewing our overview flyer , reviewing our Academy-At-A Glance summary or by contacting Kristan Rodriguez, Academy Manager.

Apply for the Inclusive Instruction Academy.

Tiered Literacy

Tiered Literacy Academy

This three-year Tiered Literacy Academy will provide high impact professional development, collaborative planning support, and technical assistance for educator teams leading literacy instruction and support in their schools.

All New Teams Get the Following Supports

  • 2 Day Remote Planning Institute
  • Monthly Planning Newsletters
  • Monthly Leadership Webinars
  • Unlimited Online Personalized Planning Support Sessions
  • Personalized Data Consultation
  • 8 Regional Coach Support Sessions
  • 8 Site-Specific Technical Assistance Sessions Per District
  • 2 Instructional Webinars
  • Book Group Facilitation Manuals
  • 4 Virtual Training Modules
  • 1 Train-the-Trainer Graduate Course

You can learn more about this by reviewing our overview flyer , reviewing our Academy-At-A Glance summary or by contacting Kristan Rodriguez, Academy Manager.

Apply for the MTSS Tiered Literacy Academy.

Tiered Math

Tiered Math

DESE, in collaboration with US Math Recovery Council, is pleased to offer an intensive four-year professional development and technical support opportunities designed to collaborate with school and district teams as they develop and implement a tiered system of mathematics support.

The content of the Tiered Mathematics Academy coursework and meetings will focus on:

  • Establishing routines and structures that support continuous improvement in instructional practices
  • Increased capacity at the school and district level
  • Distributed leadership
  • Improved student outcomes

Massachusetts Tiered Math Academy Timeline

  • Participation in the Academy begins with the establishment of a math leadership team to strategically plan for success. With this initial plan a series of courses where team members learn how to administer and analyze diagnostic assessments and plan instruction based on assessment results. (The 4-year rollout described below varies according to a school's/district's size, strengths, needs, and staffing.)
  • Graduate level credit available for all courses.

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Math Leadership Team established

MR Intervention Specialist:
Intensive year-long course (for an interventionist, a special educator and/or a math coach)

  • 9 days face-to-face or 67 hours virtual
  • Daily intervention with students
  • 1-to-1 coaching

(Highly recommended for serving students grades K–2)

Technical support focuses on Math Leadership Team:

  • Implementation structures for tiered support with the development of a strategic school/district plan for mathematics teaching and learning
  • Local math leader/coach will facilitate AVMR Course 1 & 2 and provide on-site, ongoing technical support for all educators
  • Development of infrastructure for local sustainability after participation in the Academy
  • Additional leadership courses may be offered to further support a sustained implementation

Technical support:

  • Quarterly meetings with the Math Leadership Team to support expanded implementation across the district — moving towards full implementation.

Add+VantageMR (AVMR)
Course 1 and 2:

  • 24 hours or
    4 days per course (both virtual and face-to-face formats available) with asynchronous assignments


Add+VantageMR Fractions

  • Eight,120-min virtual sessions with asynchronous assignments

MR Intervention Specialist:
Intensive year-long course (for interventionists, special educators and/or math coaches)

  • 9 days face-to-face or 67 hours virtual
  • Daily intervention with students
  • 1-to-1 coaching

(Highly recommended for serving students grades K–2)

Add+VantageMR (AVMR)
Course 1 and 2

  • 24 hours or
    4 days per course (both virtual and face-to-face formats available) with asynchronous assignments


Add+VantageMR Fractions

  • Eight, 120-min virtual sessions with asynchronous assignments

Champion Course:

Leadership course for facilitating AVMR Course 1 & 2 in-district

Synchronous Learning: 33 hr.
Asynchronous: 28 hr.

Technical Support:

  • Administer and analyze assessments.
  • Monthly Math Leadership Team meetings to support strategic planning and content knowledge.
  • Face-to-face and virtual responsive technical assistance for course participants and the Math Leadership Team.

Technical Support:

  • Administer and analyze assessments.
  • Use assessment data to plan instruction across all tiers of instruction.
  • Monthly Math Leadership Team meetings for strategic planning and implementation supports.
  • Face-to-face and virtual responsive technical assistance for course participants and the Math Leadership Team.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

The PBIS Academy supports district and school-based teams with the implementation of school-wide PBIS. It also builds capacity of in-district coaches to support the implementation, sustainability, and replication of this work. The Academy is composed of full day trainings, networking, and on-site technical assistance and consultation over the three years. Additional supports target district level capacity through targeted training and on-site support.

These trainings and activities include: school-wide universal PBIS training for teams; coaches' training supporting implementation; district mapping of current structures in systems to develop multi-year action plans towards adopting and implementing evidence-based, equitable, and culturally relevant practices; customized, on-site job embedded support; and training in data systems and analysis.

The PBIS Academy focuses on Tier 1 implementation. However, schools that have reached a pre-requisite level of implementation fidelity may qualify to participate in a Tier 2 Academy. For more information about the PBIS Academy please go to NorthEast Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

The Center for Behavioral Education Research, out of the University of Connecticut (UConn), serves as the Department's partner in facilitating the PBIS Academy. For more information about PBIS please go to Home Page.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) / Mental Health

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) / Mental Health

A growing body of research shows that proactive support of students' social emotional development and mental health contribute to positive outcomes in many realms of life, including academic achievement and career readiness. Increasingly, school districts recognize the need to integrate social emotional learning and mental health supports within the educational setting. However, they do not always have access to the information, training, resources, and infrastructure to do this work systemically.

This Academy is designed to help districts integrate SEL and mental health within an MTSS framework and align the work with existing priorities, systems, and practices. Selected schools will participate in 3 years of professional development, coaching, networking, and technical assistance. Education Development Center (EDC) and Transforming Education (TransformEd) design and facilitate the SEL/Mental Health Academy and assist participants in uncovering and building upon existing strengths—and address critical gaps—in stakeholder support, stakeholder capacity, and systems-level capacity to do the important work of addressing the SEL and MH of all students, across all levels of need. The Academy will cover topics including: the collection, analysis, and triangulation of data; building classroom educator capacity to teach, model, and integrate social emotional learning within core instruction; strengthening student support workers' capacity to provide targeted, evidence based mental health interventions; and developing more effective systems to leverage and collaborate with community partners and local mental health providers.

The SEL/Mental Health Academy will provide district and school teams with the following:

  • Needs assessment focusing on each team's strengths, goals, opportunities for growth and capacity-building priorities
  • Annual 3-day in-person or virtual professional development institute
  • Monthly interactive learning opportunities offered through online and/or in-person events
  • 40 hours per year of technical assistance (in-district or virtual depending on school preference)

Systemic Student Support (S3)

Systemic Student Support (S3)

For many students—especially those facing challenges with academic or social-emotional learning, behavioral or physical health, or income insecurity— classroom instruction is not enough to ensure success in school. Out-of-school factors influence up to two thirds of disparities in academic outcomes, and many schools are working to respond to the complex and ever changing needs of students while working to close opportunity gaps. To fully support students, we need to build systems for understanding every student's unique strengths and needs and connect them to appropriate school- and community-based resources. Known as a system of integrated student support (ISS), this network of care and resources range from tutoring and extracurricular activities, to physical and mental health care, to food banks or employment assistance.

The Department is offering an opportunity for district and school practitioners to deepen their understanding of and refine their approach to current student support processes, as well as to design, pilot, and implement systems of integrated student support: the Systemic Student Support Academy (S3 Academy or S3A). The S3 Academy is co-facilitated by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy (the Rennie Center) and Boston College Lynch School of Education's Center for Optimized Student Support (COSS) through a series of working sessions, webinars, asynchronous learning modules and individual team technical assistance support. S3A will deepen practitioners' understanding of the key characteristics of a system that proactively identifies barriers to success and addresses students' needs, while building on their individual strengths. Each participating team will engage in a continuous improvement process to design, test, implement, and scale their own system of integrated student support. Through individualized technical assistance, teams will be able to tailor the academy offerings to fit their school's unique needs. Participants will also have opportunities to come together as a community to work on shared challenges, identify effective resources, and engage in collaborative problem-solving to move toward a more effective, equitable strategy for meeting the needs of all students.

While student support is critical at all levels, at this time this opportunity will focus on building effective systems of support in grades K–8.

Team composition: The S3 Academy is designed to support school based teams. However, districts may join with one school or a set of schools. Each school team should include at least 3 members:

  • A school administrator with decision making authority (to act as the team's lead)
  • A student support-related staff member (e.g. school counselor, school social worker, school adjustment counselor etc.)
  • A teacher or general educator

For districts that intend to have multiple schools participate, a district level person must also be a member. For schools that join independently, there will be 1-2 meetings for which we ask a district level person to attend.

Last Updated: May 28, 2021

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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