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Systems for Student Success Office

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Academies: SY2020-2021

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 Wednesday, May 22nd, 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:

  • Fall District MTSS Institute: This fall, all MTSS Academies are planning on co-hosting a regional, two-day institute for districts with at least one school participating in an MTSS Academy. This convening will support MTSS knowledge-building, academy expectations, and ways to build district-level systems and supports to ensure schools are getting the most from the Academy experience. Prior to COVID-19, we tentatively planned to host these institutes (one offered in western MA and the other offered in eastern MA) in the beginning of October. Given the current situation, it is highly likely that the support will be provided virtually. Whether in-person or online, applicants should be prepared to send a district-level team that is inclusive of senior leadership.
  • 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 in-person trainings and convenings are subject to change depending on the local and national guidelines on social distancing.

Academy Update:

The following academies are currently accepting applications: Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) and Systemic Student Support (S3). All other academies have reached full capacity and are no longer accepting applications.

Below you will find information and application links for each of the MTSS Academies. In addition, the Department hosted a webinar on May 11th about all eight Academy offerings. You may access the slide deck: MTSS Academies Webinar, May 11, 2020 Download PowerPoint File. You may also access the applications using the following:

MTSS Academies Application:

Culturally Responsive Practice Leadership AcademyClosed+
Culturally Responsive Teaching AcademyClosed+
Inclusive Tier 1 InstructionClosed+
Tiered LiteracyClosed+
Tiered MathClosed+
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)+
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) / Mental HealthClosed+
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. To create schools that fully support students, we need to find ways to break down barriers to learning by building a system to address these barriers with school- and community-based resources. Known as a system of integrated student support (ISS), these resources range from tutoring and mentoring, enrichment opportunities, and extracurricular activities, to linking students and families to a broader set of services, such as physical and mental health care, family counseling, 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 will be structured around a series of in-person workshops and supplemental webinars 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). S3A participants will learn to connect school- and district-based approaches to promoting students' academic achievement and wellness by developing and coordinating supports that build upon students' strengths and address barriers to learning. By coming together as a community, participants will have a chance to work on shared challenges, identify effective resources, and engage in collaborative problem-solving, helping them plan the next steps to move toward a more effective, equitable strategy for meeting the needs of 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 district teams. Each district team must include at least one district leader with decision-making authority who is responsible for overseeing student support work. Each district team should identify 3–4 schools serving students in grades K–8 (elementary or elementary + middle or middle) to participate in the S3 Academy, including at least one school serving elementary students.

Last Updated: August 19, 2020

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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