Campus instructional leaders, along with other school personnel, must allocate time within the master schedule for Tier II intervention at every grade level, making sure it doesn’t overlap or interfere with Tier I. Tier II scheduling should be based on student need and your school resources.
There are several overarching recommendations for secondary Tier II programs. First, Tier II instruction is typically scheduled for at least 30 minutes at a minimum of three times a week, depending on student grade levels and needs (Gersten, Compton, Connor, Dimino, Santoro, Linan-Thompson, & Tilly, 2009). However, in the Introduction to the 3-Tier Reading Model, daily Tier II intervention is recommended (Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2005). The ideal teacher-student ratio is between 1:6 and 1:10 (Burns, 2008).
A further general recommendation is that Tier II intervention be scheduled as an integrated, mandatory component of the regular school schedule during the middle of the day. Some schools have tried to establish an intervention program either before or after school or in a first-period homeroom. However, the students most in need of support are also likely to have inconsistent attendance at these times (Burns & Gibbons, 2012, p. 114).
Another important consideration is that motivation and engagement are often significant factors in the achievements of secondary students who need intervention. Schools can increase the likelihood of intervention success by tracking attendance and participation and by scheduling one-on-one conferences with students who seem particularly disengaged. It is developmentally appropriate to involve secondary students as much as possible in establishing their own goals and monitoring their own progress in order to increase their buy-in (Burns, 2008).
There are two basic approaches that are generally used to provide intervention within a multitiered instruction model: (1) a standard protocol approach that utilizes a single, evidence-based intervention program selected by the school or district for groups of at-risk students, or (2) a problem-solving approach that involves a school-based team selecting a variety of evidence-based interventions that target each individual student’s academic needs.
Both approaches should include the essential RTI components of universal screening and progress monitoring to inform decisions, multiple tiers of instruction, and evidence-based intervention programs and practices. You may choose one of these approaches or a blend of the two.
Before Tier II intervention begins, you should carefully examine the intervention programs, materials, and procedures already in place at your school. Depending on your level of implementation, you may need to identify and select evidence-based intervention or supplemental curriculum programs and materials for Tier II. Additional information about evidence-based intervention programs can be found in To Learn More at the end of this section.
Tier II intervention programs need to be compatible with your Tier I core literacy program. They should support and supplement core instruction using evidence-based practices (National Center on Response to Intervention, August 2011). However, keep in mind that the foundational and prerequisite skills often taught in Tier II may not be addressed in Tier I at the same time. As Gersten and colleagues (2009) remind us, “Alignment [with Tier I] is not as critical as ensuring that [Tier II] instruction is systematic and explicit and focuses on the high priority reading components” (p. 23).
Two possible approaches for scheduling Tier II intervention at the secondary level are (1) implementing interventions in small groups as part of a daily advisory period, and (2) scheduling Tier II students in an additional reading class.
Let’s look at the experiences of two schools using these models for Tier II intervention instruction.
Scenario 1: ABC Middle School schedules all students into a daily 30-minute advisory period immediately prior to lunch. Advisory classes are typically larger than a regular class section, which relieves specially trained teachers to meet with small intervention groups during that time. To make the most effective use of advisory time for Tier I students, administrators purchased a prepared college-readiness-and-career-exploration curriculum that advisory teachers can easily deliver while Tier II students receive interventions. Progress monitoring is performed at the three-week and six-week marks, and students are regrouped as needed every six weeks.
Scenario 2: XYZ High School offers 50-minute class periods. During the summer, administrators and data analysis teams met to review prior year data for students at all grade levels and to plan interventions. After considering the number of students in need of intervention and examining resources and scheduling options, they decided that Tier II students would be scheduled into an additional reading class. Because enrollment in a reading class limits the number of other courses students can take in a given year, administrators were careful to identify a credit-bearing course code from the state graduation plan that matched the objectives of the intervention. Furthermore, counselors were asked to carefully track the credit acquisition of Tier II students to ensure they were on track for graduation. To allow for small-group intervention during the reading class, class size was limited to 20 students, and teachers were assigned specially trained instructional aides. Additionally, professional development was provided to help teachers create systems and routines for working regularly with small groups on specific skills.
Two drawbacks to this common model described in Scenario 2 are that it may offer more than the necessary time for intervention, and it does not allow for flexible regrouping of students other than a schedule change in the middle of a semester or year; it is not completely responsive to student progress over shorter intervals of time.
(For more information about differentiating instruction in small groups, refer to Part 3 of E2—Tier I literacy instruction.)
Solutions for Tier II (and Tier III) scheduling at the secondary level might require creative and advanced planning. Models other than those given here are possible and will have advantages and drawbacks of their own. Furthermore, because the best solutions for students in need of intervention might involve broad changes or a need for flexibility in staffing, scheduling, and allocation of resources, it is important to build school-wide consensus around the benefits of such changes. Leadership teams will need to weigh these advantages and drawbacks carefully and take a scheduling approach that works best for the students at their campus.
TO LEARN MORE: The resources below provide additional information about establishing effective Tier II interventions at all grade levels.
“Response to Intervention for Literacy in Secondary Schools” outlines the pros and cons of various models of secondary Tier II intervention.
“Effective Instruction for Adolescent Struggling Readers—Second Edition,” published on the website of the Center on Instruction, presents a detailed description of evidence-based practices for reading intervention.