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What is MTSS & UDL?

**Navo, M., Shalvey, S., Browne, M., Webster, R., Torrington, D., & Gomez, M. (2014–2015). Conceptual framework for Special Education Task Force successful educational evidence-based practices. Available at

Based on a review of the research, including a case study of Sanger Unified School District, this report recommends specific evidence-based practices to improve special education in California. The subcommittee was convened to review such practices with an eye toward providing inclusive education for students with special needs, an area where California lags in comparison to other states. The first recommendation is using multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) as a best practice model. To support implementation of MTSS, the subcommittee also provides specific suggestions for aligning services, ensuring college and career readiness, engaging parents and other stakeholders, implementing universal design for learning (UDL) for all students, and using response to intervention and patterns of strengths and weaknesses to determine eligibility criteria for special education services. Based on the evidence reviewed, the subcommittee concludes that these practices will benefit all students, not just those with disabilities.

CAST. (2018). UDL & the learning brain. Wakefield, MA: Author. Available at 

CAST. (2018). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.2 [graphic organizer]. Wakefield, MA: Author.  Available at

This document and corresponding graphic organizer detail the connection between neuroscience and UDL guidelines. In addition to describing the functions of the brain’s recognition, affective, and strategic networks, this file includes discussions of neuro-variability, brain plasticity, and the fundamental goal-driven nature of the brain and how they correspond to UDL’s principles of Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression, respectively. The graphic organizer is a crosswalk of the brain networks and UDL principles. Together, these pieces explore how the UDL guidelines align with the neurological organization of the brain to help educators address learning differences, including action steps instructors can take to help students access, build upon, and internalize content.