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RtI Academics & PBIS

mps rti pbis logo

Response to Intervention (RtI) is an organizational framework that guides implementation of a multi-level system of support to achieve academic and behavioral success for all. The RtI framework includes three essential elements:

  • high quality instruction (in academics and behavior)
  • balanced assessment
  • collaboration

RtI is implemented at all MPS schools around literacy and mathematics for academics and PBIS for behavior using the MPS RtI Process.

Schools are encouraged to stay up-to-date with best practices and success stories across the district from various schools and their RtI/ PBIS framework implementation.

These three essential elements, embedded with culturally responsive practices and family engagement, both supported by leadership and organizational/ team structures, interact within a multi-level system of support.

Multi-Level System of Support 

This system is the practice of systematically and systemically providing differing levels of intensity of support based on student responsiveness to instruction and intervention in academics and behavior. All students are supported through this structure of supports and instruction. Within MPS schools, the multi-level system of support is a three-tiered structure of support designed to maximize student achievement in the general education setting.

Tier 1:  Universal core curriculum instruction and practices ALL students receive. All School Assembly

At any given time, 80% or more of students should demonstrate sufficient progress through core instruction and/or practices. Classroom teachers provide Tier 1 (Core Content) instruction in both academics and behavior. Parents and community partners participate on various school and district committees and receive training in content areas.

Tier 2:  Intervention coupled with ongoing progress monitoring provided to students needing additional support or challenge in academics and behaviors.

Tier 2 academic interventions are provided in addition to core instruction. Academic interventions are provided by classroom teachers. Tier 2 behavioral (PBIS) interventions are typically provided by teachers and school support staff including: school psychologists, school social workers and school counselors. 

Tier 2 support capacity is approximately 5-15% of the student population for whom Tier 1 services are not sufficient. Parents and community partners receive training on tiered interventions and participate in various support groups.

Tier 3:  Intense interventions, replacement or additional curriculum and/or instructional and behavioral strategies provided to students requiring an individualized plan of action.

Students and school engineer at Craig MontessoriTier 3 interventions support students whose performance is well above or well below the district benchmark decision point on universal screener(s) and validated through stage 2 screening; or, whose Tier 2 progress monitoring data supports the need for Tier 3.

Tier 3 service capacity is no more than 5% of student population. Tier 3 interventions are typically managed by the building intervention team. Parents -- and when appropriate, community partners -- participate in developing plans at the individual student level.

RtI Special Considerations


The Response to Intervention Framework is defined to reach all students. There are some special considerations a school must consider when implementing a RtI Framework for academics or behavior to ensure that it reaches all students.

English Language Learners

PBIS at ALBAThe term English Language Learners (ELLs) refers to students whose first language is not English, and encompasses both students who are just beginning to learn English (often referred to in federal legislation as “Limited English Proficient” or “LEP”) and those who have already developed considerable proficiency.

As the number of English Language Learners increases in our schools, so does the need for guidelines on how to address this group’s unique learning needs. Because English Language Learners are learning academic content, skills and information in a new language, teachers must use strategies and techniques ensuring that instruction are comprehensible for them.

The first step in the implementation of the RtI model for linguistically and culturally diverse students is to ensure that instruction is conducive to academic success in the general education classroom. Classroom differentiation and scaffolding techniques are non-negotiable in the mainstream content environment. Culturally responsive, quality instruction will serve as the educational foundation for English Language Learners in all content areas.

Students and Trauma

Trauma is not an event, but a response to a stressful experience which can leave a person to feel hopeless, helpless, fearing for their life/survival and their safety. Studies estimate that two-thirds of all students experience a traumatic life event before the age of 16. Trauma can affect a student’s ability to learn, form relationships, and function appropriately in the classroom.

The first step in supporting students who have been traumatized is taking a step back and evaluating your perspective on their behavior. Your perception is relayed through your words and actions, so it is important that one learns to see behavior in terms of communication rather than disobedience. 

PBIS and Trauma Informed Care

Gifted and Talented

The current federal definition for gifted and talented students located in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is as follows:  PBIS and IB PosterStudents, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.

A tiered model of programming is a historical framework for the field of gifted and talented education. Levels of intensity in programming allow for the diversity of individual needs of students who are gifted and talented. Training on differentiation of curriculum, instruction and assessment is essential for meeting the needs of students who are gifted and talented.

Response to Intervention provides support systems for students with exceptional ability or potential. Students who are gifted require special provisions because of their strengths and above grade instructional level or potential. In gifted education, strength-based interventions or strength-based programming, are used to describe tiered instruction. RtI supports setting targets or trend lines for students.

Long-term planning and monitoring of student progress will allow students to learn and grow toward accelerated expectations. The pace of acceleration is based upon individual experiences and needs; RtI also embeds gifted education into the daily focus of quality instruction. Academic and behavioral outcomes become critical targets for students.

The RtI framework uses data, strengths and interests of students to implement appropriate, rigorous and relevant curriculum and instruction. Progress monitoring continually contributes new data so that learning is dynamic and adjustments are made for pace, depth and complexity of the research-based practices utilized. Milwaukee Public Schools will increase their focus on addressing the gifted and talented population as we move into additional years of implementation.

MPS Gifted and Talented Information

Students with Disabilities

A very general definition of special education refers to a range of educational and social services provided by the public school system and other educational institutions to individuals with disabilities who are between three and 21 years of age.

As defined by IDEA, the term “child with a disability” means a child: “with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.”

Because RtI encompasses all students, students with IEPs are serviced within the three-tiers. There is not another tier or place for students if they are identified as special education.

However, because interventions from RtI are utilized for the identification of a Specific Learning Disability, understanding how the model fits with eligibility of special education is important.

RtI/ PBIS Tier 2/3 Students with Disabilities FAQ

SLD Resources

Culturally Responsive Practices

Culture is defined as the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts with which the members of society use to understand their world and one another (The National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems).

How do you become culturally responsive?

  1. Develop cultural self-awareness

  2. Appreciate the value of diverse views

  3. Avoid imposing your own values on others

  4. Examine your own teaching for cultural bias

  5. Build on students' cultural strengths

  6. Discover your students' primary cultural roles; incorporate culture into your teaching

  7. Learn what you can about various cultures

Additional resources

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen and worker; and many risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced when multiyear, integrated efforts are used to develop students' social and emotional skills. This is best done through effective classroom instruction; student engagement in positive activities in and out of the classroom; and broad parent and community involvement in program planning, implementation and evaluation. 

Social Emotional Learning Core Competencies 

  • Self-Management
  • Self-Awareness
  • Responsible Decision-Making
  • Relationship Skills
  • Social Awareness

Learn more on the MPS Violence Prevention MConnect Page

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