RtI: A Tiered Intervention Framework

Perhaps the hallmark of RtI is that it offers students multiple levels, or tiers, of evidence-based interventions. At each tier in the framework, students are provided with effective, differentiated instruction. The intensity of this instruction will vary to match the intensity of students' learning challenges. If students do not make adequate progress in response to one form of instruction at one tier, they'll be provided with a more intensive form of instruction in another.

The RtI framework is most often conceptualized as a three-tiered model, although you might also encounter a two- or four-tiered variation of RtI here and there. The three-tiered model, often depicted as a triangle, works well to illustrate one example of how a tiered framework can be used as a school-wide strategy for instructing all students.
Tier 1: All Students Participate
Tier 2: Few Students Participate

Interventions in an RtI Framework Supplement the General Curriculum

It is important to realize that students who receive targeted, Tier 2 interventions continue to participate in general Tier 1 instruction. Tier 2 interventions do not replace the core curriculum, they supplement it. By taking part in both general and targeted instruction, the learning opportunities for these students are extended.

Under RtI, Learning Opportunities Are Extended Tier 3: Very Few Students Participate
A Focus on Instructional Variables

If even the most intensive interventions available are not effective in helping a student make sufficient progress, the team will then move towards an evaluation for special ed. By this point, the team will be confident that they've exhausted all instructional possibilities available to a student within general ed, before moving to a special ed placement. And they'll have documented the student's response to each intervention along the way, so they'll have a useful record of which aspects of attempted interventions have worked well for the student, and which have not. Even when a student's learning challenges require movement among the tiers during the intervention process, the school team remains focused on instructional variables, and the role of these variables in making the student more successful.

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