Teachers, how many of you have a perfect Multi-Tiered System of Supports/RTI triangle in your classroom, wherein at least 80% of your students’ needs can be met by Tier 1, core instruction, 10-15% need Tier 2 interventions, and 5% will need additional Tier 3 support?
Many districts and schools are now regularly collecting data assessing students’ social-emotional and behavioral skills. Data from assessments and screeners are typically used to identify students needing additional support. Other pieces of data, such as behavior monitoring or tracking, are commonly used to track the progress students are making toward their goals.
Long story short, MTSS exists to get the right intervention to the right student. Without a great intervention at the heart of it all, the work involved in MTSS—the data collection, the meetings, the documentation—is wasted. This toolkit will help guide you and your team in selecting high-quality, research-based interventions for your students, with tips for implementing, tracking, and troubleshooting those interventions.
Another new school year is back in swing, and along with that come new students, new school supplies, and new challenges. Along with grading, lesson plans, and lunch count comes that period of the day in which teachers are tasked with choosing appropriate, evidence-based interventions to support struggling students. This responsibility can be overwhelming for teachers who are already juggling so many tasks during the school day.
In my first year of teaching, I had a 2nd-grade student named Colton1 who under-performed on both the beginning and middle of the year universal screener assessments. He was deemed at risk of falling behind his grade-level peers.
Throughout 2021, Branching Minds’ partner schools accessed hundreds of interventions in the Branching Minds’ intervention library—providing targeted, research-based support for struggling students.
The three-tiered support structure of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) provides efficient and effective support for all students. This support begins at the core level, also known as Tier 1. At Tier 1, all students receive differentiated instruction that is scaffolded with research-based learning supports, tailored to meet the needs of all students.
Ah, intervention plans. They are fun, aren’t they? All that data and planning and resources, only to take a look at a student’s progress monitoring scores and realize that those stubborn scores haven’t budged at all. Why? We may scream internally, watching our tediously placed trend lines flat-line. But we worked so hard on this skill! It is a true horror story of education—well, maybe not horror, but the frustration is definitely there.
Edward Munch, “The Scream”
As the bedrock of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), intervention plans are crucial in aiding all students to master grade-level content. While universal screeners and benchmarks can help identify which students require additional support beyond core instruction, intervention plans are the vehicle that delivers that support. Let’s take a moment to review the essential components of an MTSS intervention plan, then jump into the nitty-gritty of what to do if a plan is showing no growth.
A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework uses a problem-solving cycle to monitor and adjust instruction and intervention at three tiers:
An optimal MTSS framework follows the 80-15-5 model, suggesting that our core instruction should meet 80% of our learners' needs. With strong core instruction, 80% of students will not require additional intervention. However, core instruction should be targeted to support all students through the use of differentiation and research-based learning supports. This means Tier 1 targets 100% of students, not just 80% of our students.
However, we can't negate that even with the most effective, evidence-based, validated core instruction, some learners will continue to need targeted and intensive interventions and support plans for some of their needs. When this happens, it's important we identify the student's goal, select an appropriate intervention, develop a support plan, and set frequency and type of monitoring for progress.
One of the most common questions I’ve received over the years has been, "How do I know the intervention I selected will help my student meet the goal?" How do I select the proper intervention once I've set the SMART goal for my student? In other words, you've identified the difference between what was expected of the student (skill) and what is happening, but now what?
The Fuchs Research Group of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University has created hundreds of peer-reviewed articles that help teachers select the best interventions for students. With all that's on your to-do list these days, I wanted to share the top five guidelines from Fuchs' research that will help you align your SMART goals and interventions to optimize student success. A little tip, the more guidelines the intervention meets, the more likely it will maximize student success.