Multi-Tiered System of Supports for Teacher Preparation: A Framework to Attract, Retain, and Prepare Special Educators


  • Mary Rose Sallese University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Melissa Fogarty Texas A&M University
  • Erinn Whiteside Texas A&M University
  • Marcia Montague Texas A&M University



multi-tiered systems of support, special education teacher preparation


Special education teacher preparation programs (SETPPs) take on the difficult task of preparing high-quality educators ready to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities. This mission is increasingly vital as we face a widespread and long-standing shortage of special educators and declining enrollment in SETPPs. In this article, we will highlight how integrating a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) model within a teacher preparation program can provide a systematic framework to improve recruitment and retention efforts, stakeholder satisfaction, and pre-service teacher quality. We will provide an illustrative description of how we incorporated an MTSS framework in our undergraduate SETPP, which included a continuum of interventions to meet a wide variety of pre-service teacher needs, data-based decisions and universal screening, and explicit instruction of our core competencies (i.e., knowledge, skills, dispositions). This article opens the conversation on the potential benefits of expanding the MTSS framework into higher education, specifically teacher preparation, as an innovative approach for attracting, retaining, and preparing high-quality special educators.


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Special Issue on Teacher Shortages