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Supporting our Tier 1 Students: Best Practices of Data Analysis and Differentiated Instruction for Educational Leadership

Best Practices, RTI/MTSS, Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

In these stressful times of seeing more struggling students in need of Tier 2 and Tier 3 support it is easy to glance over Tier 1 needs by thinking they are sufficient. Often times an overview of the data will lead us to believe this common thought, however skimming over Tier 1 data is causing us to miss key red flags that push our numbers of Tier 2 and Tier 3 even higher. We can address this concern with some “Best Practices” and procedures built into how we meet the needs of all our students. Utilizing data and applying differentiated practices are two critical components to success with all of our students.

Making MTSS/RTI Work More Efficient Through Groups

Leadership, RTI/MTSS, Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

We know educators strive to provide the appropriate level of instructional support each student needs to achieve at least grade-level mastery. We have all experienced students arriving to our classrooms with a wide range of knowledge, skills, experience and interest. It is quickly evident we cannot just charge through the curriculum lockstep and hope that every student gets what they need. Even when utilizing varied daily instruction to accommodate for students’ different learning needs, some students still require additional support to master new skills and content or catch up on missing skills from previous years’ standards. 

Understanding Tier Patterns and Movement in MTSS

Best Practices, Tiering Students

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)?

Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

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)?

RTI/MTSS, Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

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 is Tier 1 Enrichment and Support?

RTI/MTSS, Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

Students who are meeting or exceeding standards may require enrichment beyond the core to demonstrate academic growth. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that all students make academic progress regardless of their entry level.  The Branching Minds Support Library contains learning activities that may be used as early as Tier 1, as teachers design differentiated instruction for individual or small groups of students. Below are some examples from the Branching Minds Support Library:

What is Tier 2 in Response to Intervention (RTI) / Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)?

Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

At Tier 2, students identified as being at-risk academically or behaviorally through universal screeners are provided scientific, research-based interventions in addition to the core. Approximately 10-15% of students will need supplemental instruction at Tier 2 to become proficient. Tier 2 interventions are implemented with groups of students demonstrating common skill deficits or social/emotional/behavioral risk characteristics. These students should be observed on Branching Minds, where a collaborative intervention plan is developed, monitored, and documented.

What is Tier 1 in Response to Intervention (RTI) / Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)?

Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

At Tier 1, all students receive scientific, research-based core instruction implemented with integrity and emphasizing grade-level standards and school-wide behavioral expectations. Instruction at Tier 1 should be explicit, differentiated and include flexible grouping and active student engagement. To ensure 80% of students’ needs are met at Tier 1, high quality instruction is essential. Features of high quality, research-based instruction include (Chard et al., 2008): 

What is Tier 1 Enrichment and Support?

Intervention Spotlight, Tiering Students

Students who are meeting or exceeding standards may require enrichment beyond the core to demonstrate academic growth. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that all students make academic progress regardless of their entry level. 

What is Tier 3 in Response to Intervention (RTI) / Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

Tiering Students, Starting with MTSS/RTI

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 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.