Group of four diverse professionals looking at and pointing to sticky notes on a glass wall.

Coherence and a Multi-Tiered System of Supports Activity: Evaluate & Visualize Your MTSS Framework

Good ideas come from everywhere. It is more important to recognize a good idea than to author it.

– Jeanne Gang

 “There is only one way to do this — through purposeful interaction among members of the organization working on a common agenda, identifying and consolidating what works and making meaning over time.” – Michael Fullan & Joanne Quinn

Defining Features

Effective coherence makers know that coherence is cumulative and ongoing. Common sense and experience tells you that things change: Staff members leave and newcomers arrive, policies change, the environment shifts, new ideas are floated, and so on. Coherence makers work to reduce or eliminate unnecessary distractions and achieve about 80 percent coherence, defined as shared depth of understanding.

The work on coherence tends to have three features:

  • It is about the whole system
  • It zeroes in on pedagogy — what teaching and learning practices are specifically effective
  • It always examines impact and the causal pathways that result in measurable progress for all students, especially the hard-to-measure outcomes

Coherence is the result of hands-on work.


  • Use the provided System Coherence Activity Worksheet Doc to examine your school’s coherence


  • Consider the below questions and images, then visualize and draw your own MTSS framework

In many of our current practices we are most familiar with this representation:

Are any of your school’s systems, models, etc. depicted like the above example? If so, which?
How effective/ineffective are those systems, models, etc.?

What do you notice about the examples below? What stands out for you?

Are any of your school’s systems, models, etc. depicted like the above examples? If so, which?
How effective/ineffective are those systems, models, etc.?

If you were to create a visual of your MTSS framework, what would it look like?

Grab a blank piece of paper, and actually sketch it out.

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