How To Respond to an MTSS Intervention Plan Showing No Growth

    Tier 2, Tier 3, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    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.

    Aligning SMART Goals to the Just-Right MTSS Interventions

    Tier 2, Tier 3, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework uses a problem-solving cycle to monitor and adjust instruction and intervention at three tiers:

    • Tier 1: whole class data-driven differentiated core instruction,
    • Tier 2: whole-class differentiated instruction + small group targeted instruction (in addition to core instruction), and
    • Tier 3: whole class core differentiated instruction + additional targeted instruction (often small group in addition to core instruction) + intensive support.

    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.

    5 Mistakes to Avoid When Constructing SMART Goals in MTSS

    Tier 2, Tier 3, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    Student goal setting is a topic that is often covered during teacher professional development and in-service days. Educators have naturally been setting goals for students since the beginning of teaching, and goal setting today has become a critical element of an effective MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework. MTSS meets all student’s needs with three levels of support for each school's entire student body. Within MTSS, Tier I (also known as whole class core instruction), the core curriculum should be meeting the needs of at least 80% of all students. Tier II includes whole class core instruction with the addition of targeted instruction for students needing support, often provided in small groups. Tier III is whole class core instruction, additional targeted instruction, and explicit intensive intervention. Support activities provided to students receiving Tier II and Tier III instruction should be robust, research-driven and align to student’s specific needs.

    How to Help Students That Are One or More Grade Levels Behind

    Tier 3, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies, Reflective Teaching

    The impact of remote instruction on students has been discussed a great deal during the past ten months, while our nation’s teachers grapple with the complexities of implementing distance learning. As teachers and students engage daily in e-learning, with some schools pivoting back and forth between a hybrid model of remote and in-person schooling, the topic of what it actually means for students to be at “grade level” has been trending. Prior to COVID-19, students were considered to be on “grade level” if they had mastered the skills and concepts at their expected level of difficulty as measured by formal assessments and district/state standards. 

    Understanding Tier Patterns and Movement in MTSS

    Tier 1 - Core Instruction, Tier 2, Tier 3

    Tiering is an integral part of any Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework. Not only does it help educators identify which students require additional support, but it also provides insight into the health of a district or school’s MTSS practice. When district and school leaders have visibility into the proportion of students at each tier level and how students are moving across tier levels, they can identify gaps in support and develop strategies to strengthen their intervention approaches. 

    What Do the Tiers Mean in Response to Intervention (RTI) / Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)?

    Tier 1 - Core Instruction, Tier 2, Tier 3

    A three-tiered system of service delivery is a necessary structure to efficiently and effectively support all children, not just those who struggle in school. The three-tiered system of service delivery is crucial in the attempt to ensure all students achieve at high levels and all students achieve college and career readiness. 

    What Do the Tiers Mean In Response to Intervention (RTI) / Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)?

    Tier 1 - Core Instruction, Tier 2, Tier 3

    A three-tiered system of service delivery is a necessary structure to efficiently and effectively support all children, not just those who struggle in school. The three-tiered system of service delivery is crucial in the attempt to ensure all students achieve at high levels and all students achieve college and career readiness. 

    Tier 3 Interventions in MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports)

    Tier 3

    Students who have not demonstrated progress with targeted group interventions at Tier 2 require more time in more intensive interventions. Tier 3 interventions are distinguished from Tier 2 interventions because they are individualized based on data collected in individual problem solving, occur with smaller student-teacher ratios (e.g., ideally 1-on-1, however, groups of 3 to 5 students or a larger group broken into a few groups of 3-5 students, is acceptable for middle and high schools), and possibly occur for a longer duration of time (e.g., more daily minutes or more weeks spent in intervention). About 5-10% of students will require this level of intensive support.