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IES recently published results of an RCT evaluating a program that trained schools in “Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Behavior” (MTSS-B) — an approach used by over 25,000 US schools. Quick take: A mostly well-conducted RCT, with mostly disappointing findings.


  • Per the study report: "The MTSS-B approach seeks to change the school learning environment by consistently teaching and reinforcing good behavior for all students, and then identifying and providing supplemental support to students who need it.”

Study Design:

  • This was a large study: 89 elementary schools (located within 9 school districts in 6 states) were randomly assigned to training in MTSS-B versus a control group.


  • For the full sample, the study found no discernible effects on reading or math achievement, or disruptive behavior, over a three-year period. Based on careful review, I believe these null findings are credible.

  • For the subgroup of students initially identified as struggling with behavior, the study found modest positive effects on reading scores and behavior, not math.  

  • However, I believe these subgroup findings are only suggestive due to weaknesses in the study’s subgroup analysis (namely, sample attrition, baseline imbalance between treatment & control groups, & no adjustment for multiple comparisons). I think it will be important to see if these subgroup findings can be replicated in future RCTs.

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