The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

MultiTiered Systems of Support to Ensure All Children Succeed in Early Reading and Spelling

Gail Gillon, Child Well-being Research Institute University of Canterbury, Christchurch (New Zealand)

Brigid McNeill, Child Well-being Research Institute University of Canterbury, Christchurch (New Zealand)

Amy Scott, Child Well-being Research Institute University of Canterbury, Christchurch (New Zealand)

Megan Gath, Child Well-being Research Institute University of Canterbury, Christchurch (New Zealand)


Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) frameworks are advocated to ensure all children succeed in developing comprehensive literacy skills [1, 2].  The multiple tiers of support within such frameworks begin with research-based reading instruction for all children (Tier 1). Children who don’t respond as well to this first Tier of reading instruction are provided with supplementary tiers of support such as Tier 2 support (e.g., supplementary small group targeted instruction) or Tier 3 support (individualised support) This paper describes one example of a MTSS for early literacy instruction: the Better Start Literacy Approach (BSLA) [3]implemented in New Zealand. Since February 2020, 4500 teachers in approximately 880 schools across New Zealand have engaged with professional learning and development to implement BSLA, with baseline data available for over 35,000 five-year-old children. This paper extends recent research in the MTSS frameworks including the potential benefits of digital technologies and artificial intelligence to improve efficiency in early literacy and oral language monitoring assessments. The results showed that comparison to an internal control group, accelerated progress in children’s phonic, and phoneme awareness skills was evident after just 10 weeks of BSLA Tier 1 teaching. After 30 weeks, there were significant gains in word reading, spelling, listening comprehension and oral narrative abilities; growth did not differ based on gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Children with greater learning needs who received BSLA Tier 2, (small group supplementary teaching) caught up to their peers in some measures of word reading, spelling skills and listening comprehension. The data suggest that with appropriate resourcing, planning and engagement with school communities, successful large-scale implementation of evidenced-based early literacy approaches is possible within a relatively short time. Culturally responsive implementation within MTSS frameworks holds much promise for raising literacy achievement for all children.



Multi-Tiered Systems of Support; early reading, oral language, literacy assessments



1.         Gonzalez, J.E., et al., Unlocking the Promise of Multitiered Systems of Support (MTSS) for Linguistically Diverse Students: Advancing Science, Practice, and Equity. School Psychology Review, 2022. 51(4): p. 387-391.

2.         Pullen, P.C., et al., RTI and MTSS: Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: How Do They Differ and How Are They the Same, If at All?, in Handbook of response to intervention and multi-tiered systems of support, P.C. Pullen and M. Kennedy, Editors. 2018, Routledge. p. 5-10.

3.         Gillon, G., et al., A better start literacy approach: effectiveness of Tier 1 and Tier 2 support within a response to teaching framework. Reading and Writing, 2023. 36(3): p. 565-598.


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