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Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center - How Ohio Schools Can Use a Multi-Tiered System of Support for Family Engagement




 Issue 15: January 6, 2021
How Ohio Schools Can Use a
 Multi-Tiered System of Support for
 Family Engagement




“It’s essential to evolve constantly, learn from past mistakes, look for new opportunities and have the flexibility to implement improved processes and solutions along the way.” ~Mark Gallagher

A Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is “a data driven, problem-solving framework to improve outcomes for all students” ( In this issue of News & Guidance, we apply the MTSS model to develop expanded home-school collaboration to support student learning and healthy development by nurturing trusting relationships with all families, fostering two-way communication that reaches all families, and aligning family engagement activities with student outcomes. MTSS is a system to organize our family engagement interventions and supports so we can apply them planfully to maximize outcomes for students.




A Tiered Approach to Family Engagement

A tiered approach to family engagement helps teachers and administrators to adapt to the contexts, needs, and preferences of every family in the school. Supports for families should match the tiered supports and services established for students. Tiered supports are planned and prepared so that schools and their community partners can respond to anticipated needs of families and their children.

  • Tier 1 is the universal, school-wide support system for all families. Tier 1 establishes the school culture and communicates expectations for behavior and learning. Family engagement efforts in Tier 1 are proactive, equipping and informing families to prevent challenges for students. 80% of families should have their needs met and find value at this level, or the school staff should reflect about whether the practices are universally effective enough. 
    • Example: All families need to know about schedules and logistics when the school is transitioning between remote, hybrid, and all-in learning. The school offers streamlined communication on a single platform that families regularly use.
  • Tier 2 supports are programs and strategies for groups of families who would benefit from additional support. Families receive targeted supports, based on their or their child’s needs, that are more tailored than Tier 1 and may be more frequent. Tier 2 supports are often a rapid response to a need. 
    • Example: Some families need support with Wi-Fi connectivity when the school transitions to remote or hybrid learning. The school district offers Wi-Fi hotspots, learning pods for groups of families, and other supports to provide dependable internet access.
  • Tier 3 supports are intensive programs and strategies for individual families. A small number of families with unique challenges need interventions beyond Tier 2 supports. Tier 3 supports are designed to meet the family’s specific needs. 
    • Example: A family of a child with a developmental disability needs intensive adult support in order to access lessons and materials. The school sets up individual check-ins between the intervention specialist and the family and provides visual tip sheets for how to access online learning platforms.


MTSS for Family Engagement Planning Tool 




What Indicates a Need to Change Levels?

A school may need to change levels of support due to a school, family, student, or community issue because different families and students will have unique experiences and skills for adapting to those experiences. For example, a beloved teacher falling ill would create a need for support for all families, but families of students in her classes would need a higher level of support, and students on the team she coaches might need the highest level of support.
 Schools should have decision indicators that provide a metric for when current practices are not enough or not a good fit. Supports and services for families at different tiers may result in a change in intensity, frequency, or a complete change of practice. The emphasis is on adapting our practices to engage every family, rather than expecting families to change to fit a single approach to family engagement.
 No matter what, the central goal is to have a system of interventions, supports, and services in place to be responsive and supportive to each and every family in the school community. This type of proactive and responsive system contributes to the development of trusting relationships, fosters two-way communication, and aligns family engagement practices with supports for learner outcomes.

Learn More 




What are the Roles for Families in an MTSS Approach to Family Engagement?

  1. Initiators: Requesting services and alerting the school to the child’s (or family’s) needs.
  2. Co-designers: Team members to provide parent perspectives alongside school staff on PBIS teams, MTSS teams, IEP teams, and other leadership teams.
  3. Receivers of supports: Accepting and utilizing supports provided by the school.
  4. Providers of supports: Providing interventions to their own child in the home and supporting other parents formally and informally.
  5. Evaluators: Offering a perspective that school personnel do not have by providing feedback on goodness of fit, satisfaction, home experience, recommendations for improvement, and accessibility.





News from the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center 


GrandUnderstandings featured in U.S. Department of Education Newsletter

 The GrandUnderstandings project was featured in a recent U.S. Department of Education Newsletter, sent to family engagement practitioners and policymakers across the country. An exciting new step for the project is the translation of materials into common languages spoken in Ohio for greater accessibility for each of Ohio’s families. Access materials here.


Dr. Barbara Boone and Hadley Bachman presented to Michigan’s MiMTSS Continued Supports for Educators Webinar Series. 
 Nearly 100 attendees participated in exploring family engagement through the lens of a multi-tiered system of support. Participants examined their current core strategies for family engagement and indicators for intervention and increased support. Participants also explored the role of families as providers, receivers, and informers of tiers of support.


Ohio Department of Education Launches Whole Child Framework
 With support and consultation from the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center, the Ohio Department of Education launched the Whole Child Framework, which provides a guide for schools in meeting whole child needs through district, school, family, and community collaboration.

Whole Child Framework 




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