Skip Navigation
Print Evaluations

Impact Evaluation of Training in Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Reading in Early Elementary School

Contract Information

Current Status:



September 2018 – November 2028



Contract Number:



American Institutes for Research
Instructional Research Group
School Readiness Consulting


With a third of US students failing to develop foundational reading skills by 4th grade, calls have grown to renew the focus on this critical learning. Many elementary schools are seeking to move beyond basic good practice and adopt a more strategic approach to improve the quality of reading instruction and how struggling students are identified and provided with extra help. These efforts, often under the umbrella term multi-tiered systems of support for reading (MTSS-R), rely on outside training and technical assistance to strengthen core reading instruction for all students (Tier I) and the systematic and targeted use of supplemental supports for those who need it (Tier II). The U.S. Department of Education has promoted MTSS-R as a broad approach to school improvement and to addressing equitable access to learning opportunities, but seek to expand rigorous evidence about it. This study evaluates the effectiveness of two promising strategies. The strategies differ in the way they help teachers with instruction of the core curriculum and in how closely that curriculum is linked to the supplemental support. They also differ on whether the supplemental support pre-teaches the core curriculum or uses an alternative curriculum with lessons tailored to student needs.

  • Does the study's MTSS-R training and technical assistance (TA) affect students' reading skills and achievement, both initially and over time? Does it help students identified as struggling in reading make more significant gains? Do the effects differ across the two strategies?
  • Are the effects on reading related to schools' experiences implementing the MTSS-R strategies, including the extent to which they carry out the strategies as intended and their use of key instructional practices?
  • In what ways do these strategies affect the identification of special education students? What are their outcomes?

Approximately 150 schools were randomly assigned to one of the MTSS-R training and TA strategies or to continue with their usual reading instruction and supports. The study's training and TA is being provided for teachers in grades 1 and 2 across three school years, 2021–2022 through 2023–2024. Data collection includes: (1) study-administered assessments of students in grades 1 and 2 to identify struggling students and to estimate effects on their foundational reading skills; (2) student records to estimate longer-term effects on these students' reading achievement, (3) staff surveys and observations of Tier I and II practice to provide information about instruction and the extent of staff training and TA; and (4) documentation of program implementation.

The first product for the study is expected in 2023 and will be announced on

Key findings will be available after the study report is published.