Tier 2 Interventions: Take RTI to the Next Level

Response to Intervention-Tier 2 Interventions are classroom based and a challenge to do consistently. I have depending on my case load, helped with Tier 2 interventions. Students who join me are either those the RTI team is wanting to move forward with formal testing and need more data or they are students who only need a quick push to get back to core instruction. But it all moves around the data and how classroom-based interventions are pulled together. This is not easy!

As a classroom teacher, you are using a variety of differentiated instructional and assessment strategies. Universal screening and progress monitoring tools are in place. You are using the resulting data to guide your instruction and to determine which students need Tier 2 interventions. You know that in order to be effective, those interventions must not be “more of the same,” since the strategies you used in your Tier 1 classroom did not work for these students. Your challenge is to meet the needs of each Tier 2 student while maintaining the instructional integrity of your general education classroom.

To do this, consider the following two questions:

*How can I design effective Tier 2 interventions?
*How can I differentiate targeted interventions to meet the needs of each of my Tier 2 students?

How can I design effective Tier 2 interventions?

Tier 2 evidence-based interventions use systematic, explicit methods to change student performance and/or behavior. In systematic methods, skills and concepts begin with the most simple, moving to the most complex. Student objectives are clear, concise, and driven by ongoing assessment results.

Additionally, students are provided with appropriate practice opportunities which directly reflect systematic instruction. Explicit methods typically include teacher modeling, student guided practice, and student independent practice, sometimes referred to as “I do, We do, You do.”

Tier 2 Intervention Design Example:

I do
1.Teacher models and explains

We do
2.Students practice (with teacher’s guidance) what the teacher modeled
3.Teacher provides prompts/feedback
4.Students apply skill as teacher scaffolds instruction

You do
5.Students practice independently (either in-class or as homework)
6.Teacher provides feedback

As you design interventions that are systematic and explicit, make sure you spend plenty of time on the “We do” stage. That is your best opportunity to catch mistakes and clarify misconceptions.


How can I differentiate targeted interventions to meet the needs of each of my Tier 2 students?

To design effective differentiated interventions, you must know what your students' needs are. Consistent data collection is key for both moving on to Tier 3 and Special Education and moving students back to the core curriculum. (If you have not checked out my Plug & Play Data Collection Spreadsheets--you can here). 

Are your students visual, auditory, or tactile/kinesthetic? Many Tier 2 learners are primarily visual and tactile/kinesthetic. They need concrete examples such as pictures and graphic organizers, as well as hands-on experiences.

Students who are poor readers typically exhibit strengths in the visual/spatial intelligence. They “think in pictures” rather than in words. Because these students are often able to put details into their pictures that others may not discern, encourage them to sketch what they are reading or hearing. Next, guide them as they first explain and then write about their pictures.

Tier 2 Intervention Example

In my school, one 4th grade teacher during a unit in the core reading program devoted to poetry had students learning how to write haikus, something not included in the core reading program but clearly aligned to the reading standards for that grade. Another 2nd grade teacher chose to use reader's theater, a well-known intervention program in which students "rehearse" the presentation of reading material to their classmates in a play or dialogue format, to increase the development of fluency.

By dividing the entire grade into tiered instruction, the model provides to students who are already achieving at benchmark levels opportunities for enrichment that go beyond the core instructional program. Our school schedule built in a time each week to collect the progress-monitoring data would be collected on students in Tiers 2 and 3.

Suggested Timeline for RTI Implementation

Phase 1            
  • Establish a Professional Learning Community
  • Differentiate instruction in Tier 1
  • Conduct professional development on RTI
  • Begin an Action Plan
  • Set up RTI teams
  • Select an RTI model
  • Choose or design universal screening and begin using
 Phase 2
  • Hold discussions on decision rules, fidelity of implementation, and documentation procedures
  • In Tier 1, regularly use data from assessments to make instructional decisions
  • Make decisions about when and how Tiers 2 & 3 interventions will be conducted
  • Choose or design progress monitoring and begin using
  • Begin differentiating interventions in Tiers 2 and 3
  • Finish Action Plan
Phase 3
  • In all tiers, use data to make most instruction and intervention decisions
  • Differentiate instruction and interventions consistently
  • Evaluate practicality and usefulness of  universal screening and progress monitoring

Give a shoutout--What are your favorite Tier 2 classroom based interventions? Specialists, how do you support classroom teachers with their Tier 2 interventions? I'd love to hear!

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About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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