Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #256
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Maximizes Differentiation Power for Culturally, Linguistically, Economically, and Neuro-Diverse Students
Sunday, May 26, 2024
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 108 AB
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
QABA/NASP CE Offered. CE Instructor: Trina Spencer, Ph.D.
Chair: Mychal Machado (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Presenting Authors: : TRINA SPENCER (University of Kansas)

As more and more behavior analysts are practicing within school settings, it is critical for them to have a clear understanding of the current educational model. Most elementary schools in the U.S. and abroad have adopted a differentiation model of instruction, called Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). To a lesser extent, preschool and middle and high schools have also adopted MTSS models. In this model, different layers of instruction and interventions are layered for students to increase the intensity of supports as indicated by screening and progress monitoring data. Intensifying supports only for those who truly need them and irrespective of disability, all students receive the “just right” fit of interventions to excel in school. This also ensures that financial and personnel resources are committed to those who will benefit most from them. In this invited talk, Dr. Spencer will provide a tutorial on the key ingredients of MTSS, explicating the elements necessary for equitable implementation and impact. She will also report on several research applications with culturally and linguistically diverse students and students with disabilities. Drawing from her own research, Dr. Spencer will present several innovative assessments and intervention tools that ensure students are identified as at risk early and provided with sufficient supports to prevent worsening difficulties.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Participants will list the key ingredients of MTSS; (2) Participants will describe how MTSS leads to more equitable instruction than the general/special education approach; (3) Participants will explain what a dynamic assessment is and how it differs from dynamically applied assessments; and (4) Participants will describe an intervention approach that allows for efficient differentiated intervention for diverse learners without additional effort.
TRINA SPENCER (University of Kansas)
Dr. Spencer is a senior scientist and director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at University of Kansas and holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Applied Behavioral Sciences, Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, and Special Education. Drawing from speech-language pathology, applied linguistics, education, and behavior analysis, she concentrates her efforts on the oral academic language that serves as a foundation to the reading and writing of preK to 3rd grade students, with and without disabilities. She maintains a spirited research agenda that has yielded 64 peer review publications, 150 invited presentations, $15M in external funding, and several commercialized curricula, interventions, professional development systems, and assessment tools. Her multi-tiered interventions and assessment tools are used broadly in the United States, but also internationally. Dr. Spencer values researcher-practitioner partnerships, community engagement, and cross disciplinary collaborations to accomplish high impact and innovative applied research.



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