At MTSS  Rhode Island, we help districts and schools build systems to meet the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs of their students. Educators in these districts and schools have a responsibility to teach the students in front of them and we recognize the unique challenge this poses given systemic and historical factors.


For more than a century, education providers throughout the United States have strived and struggled to meet the diverse needs of American children and families. A complex system of biases and structural inequities is at play, deeply rooted in our country’s history, culture, and institutions. This system of inequity — which routinely confers advantage and disadvantage based on linguistic background, gender, skin color, and other characteristics — must be clearly understood, directly challenged, and fundamentally transformed. [We have] come to understand that the results we seek for all our children can never be fully achieved without incorporating an equity and inclusion lens in every facet of our work.

New York State Education Department

To support educators in adopting a lens dedicated to equity and inclusion, the New York State Education Department has created and shared a framework for supporting culturally responsive-sustaining education. The Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) Education Framework1 “was designed to support education stakeholders in developing and implementing policies that educate all students effectively and equitably, as well as provide appropriate supports and services to promote positive student outcomes” (NYSED). In this framework, they define culture “as the multiple components of one’s identity, including but not limited to: race, economic background, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, and ability.” Traditionally, educational systems have treated cultural diversity as an obstacle to overcome. This diversity in culture should be celebrated, not ignored. The four grounding principles of the CR-S Framework represents a shift from treating diversity as a deficit to a strengths-based approach, in which diversity is seen as an asset: 

  • Welcoming and Affirming Environments
  • High Expectations and Rigorous Instruction
  • Inclusive Curriculum and Assessment
  • Ongoing Professional  Learning

We believe that the MTSS  framework both supports and aligns with the principles of the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. When a multi-tiered system of supports has been successfully implemented in districts and schools, all learners are given what they need, and when they need it, to be college- and career-ready. All students have equitable access to an evidence-based tiered system of supports as needed to reach academic, behavior, and social-emotional outcomes.

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Explore how elements of MTSS support and align with the four CR-S principles.
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Welcoming and Affirming Environment

Learn more about creating safe spaces where students and educators can find themselves represented and where all cultural identities are treated with respect.

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High Expectations and Rigorous Instruction

All students deserve the opportunity to engage with rigorous and appropriately challenging instruction. Communities that foster high expectations empower its members to succeed.

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Inclusive Curriculum and Assessment

Explore ways to include all students in learning about a variety of perspectives and how to be agents of change in today's world.

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Ongoing Professional  Learning

Student learning starts when teaching is rooted in students' lives and day-to-day realities. Read more about how educators can learn to make teaching meaningful to all students.

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From the New York State Education Department. Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. Internet. Available from; accessed 1 February 2020.

Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2023, 2:22 PM