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Core Instruction

What is "Core Support"?

Core support (sometimes referred to as Tier I) includes general academic, behavioral, and social-emotional instruction and support designed and differentiated for all students. Core academic instruction should be aligned with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS). Core behavioral and social-emotional instruction should be aligned with locally developed expectations.   

The delivery of instruction at this level should include evidence based, whole group and small group strategies, as well as differentiated instruction based on the learners in the group and the expertise of the teacher.

Even though academic standards have been established by the state and behavioral expectations may be developed by a district, Core instruction will most likely vary in intensity from school to school, even within a district. This is due to the fact that Core instruction is based on local needs. Some schools may require more time and focus in Core to ensure all students meet and/or exceed state proficiency levels and locally developed behavioral and social-emotional expectations. 

In an effective Core (Tier I), 80% of students meet and/or exceed state and locally developed standards with Core instruction alone (i.e., with no additional supports). If more than 20% of students need additional support, the effectiveness of Core should be examined and the School Leadership Team should evaluate all data using a structured problem solving model to determine any needed changes.

Source: NC MTSS Implementation Guide, Essential Elements of Core

Core Support: Defining Environment, Curriculum, Instruction, and Data Evaluation


Core Support








The expectations for students and staff across the school and classroom settings. This includes climate, management, scheduling, and instructional grouping used to serve all students. In addition to behavioral expectations clearly defined across settings, the team should also define appropriate responses to problem behavior, standards for student engagement, the agreed upon acknowledgement system and other procedures used with all students.




The materials, instructional programs, texts, lessons and mapping (for academics and behavior/social-emotional functioning) delivered to all students. These should be evidence-based, aligned with student needs, provide clear mapping towards meeting standards, take into account student skill deficits, and align with school resources. The chosen curriculum should be frequently evaluated for effectiveness but with a keen eye first on implementation fidelity. In other words, before abandoning a program, the team should ensure it was implemented as it was designed because this is a common cause of poor outcomes.




The practices used to deliver the curriculum (academics and behavior/social-emotional functioning) to all students. This should align with student needs and resources, be evidence–based, include a variety of methods, and ensure cultural responsiveness.


Data Evaluation



A comprehensive Data-Evaluation plan for MTSS will include two broad types of data: 1) implementation measures and 2) student measures. Implementation measures are those pieces of data that examine the practices and programs being implemented across a district and building. In the simplest terms, they measure what the adults are doing. Examples of implementation measures could include adherence to the master schedule, instructional walk-throughs, program fidelity measures, and staff professional development/coaching attendance. Student measures within MTSS should fulfill the following purposes:

  1. Inform instruction,

  2. Identify students who are at-risk,

  3. Determine why students are at-risk, 

  4. Monitor student progress, and

  5. Determine if outcomes were met.