A tiered instruction addresses a particular standard, key concept, and generalization, but allows several pathways for students to arrive at an understanding of these components. In tiered instruction, students work in teacher-assigned groups according to the chosen tiering strategy, such as grouping students by their current level in the universal screening . Based on the Universal screening data, students below 50th percentile of class average score grouped into Tier 2 to and below 25th percentile into Tier 3. All students receive Tier 1 core instruction.
Students may move fluidly among the tiers as a result of their response to instruction and interventions. A student can move from Tier I to Tier II and back to Tier I within a relatively short period of time. It is also important that students receive the types and levels of interventions needed in a timely manner. Accordingly, movement across the tiers is not necessarily sequential. For example, a student with significant gaps in performance e may immediately require intensive Tier 3 interventions and would, therefore, not receive Tier 2 interventions prior to Tier 3.
The first tier states that all students receive core classroom instruction that is differentiated and utilizes strategies and materials that are scientifically research-based. Assessment in the classroom should be ongoing and effective in that it clearly identifies the strengths and weaknesses for each learner. Any necessary interventions at this level are within the framework of the general education classroom and can be in the form of differentiated instruction, small group review, or one-on-one remediation of a concept.
Progress monitoring in Tier 1 uses universal screening assessments to show individual student growth over time and to determine whether students are progressing as expected. In this process, data are collected, students are identified using benchmark scores, and measurable goals are set for the next data collection point for those who display difficulties. The team then follows a problem-solving process to determine interventions for at-risk students that will work within whole-class instructions. The classroom teacher implements the interventions, observations are conducted to ensure the fidelity of the classroom instruction, and the problem-solving team periodically reviews the progress of students.
In the second tier, supplemental interventions may occur within or outside of the general education classroom, and progress monitoring occurs at more frequent intervals. Core instruction is still delivered by the classroom teacher, but small groups of similar instructional levels may work together under a teacher’s instruction and/or guidance. This type of targeted instruction is typically for 30 minutes per day, two days per week, for a minimum of nine weeks. This targeted instruction may occur in the general education setting or outside in a smaller group setting with a specialized teacher (such as a Literacy Support teacher for struggling readers). Instruction starts as soon as possible after students have been identified as falling behind grade expectations through Universal Screening. Tier II consists of targeted services and interventions, usually in small group settings, 8-10 students, and provided in addition to instruction in the general curriculum.
In order to meet the needs of students whose core instruction and supplemental instruction has not provided sufficient support for them to show adequate progress, Tier 3 provides: (a) increased time for instruction, (b) smaller group size or one to one intervention, and (c) the duration of instruction may be increased. Tier 3 instructions may or may not be special education. Tier three is for students who require more intense, explicit and individualized instruction and have not shown sufficient response to Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions. This type of targeted instruction is delivered for a minimum of two 30-minute sessions every week for nine to twelve weeks for 5-6 students in a group. The interventions in this tier may be similar to those in Tier 2 except that they are intensified in focus, frequency, and duration. The instruction in Tier 3 is typically delivered outside of the general education classroom. Programs, strategies, and procedures are designed and employed to supplement, enhance, and support Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction by remediation of the relevant area and development of compensatory strategies. If Tier 3 is not successful, a child is considered for the first time as potentially having a learning disability.
The main purpose of progress monitoring is to determine whether interventions are successful in helping students learn at an appropriate rate. Decision rules are created to determine when a student might no longer require extra interventions, when the interventions need to be changed, or when a student might be identified for special education. Progress is monitored more closely at every 15th day for Tier 2 and 8th day for Tier 3, and the interventions usually last between six to ten weeks. At the end of the designated intervention, depending on student progress a student may
- discontinue Tier 2 or Tier 3 , or
- receive another round of Tier 2 or Tier 3 if he/she is achieving progress but still remains behind his or her grade level expectations or
- move to more intensive intervention in Tier 3 or Special Education services.