Tiered Support

Multi-leveled support can be viewed as layers or tiers of increasingly intense intervention that respond to student-specific needs. While RtI models are commonly and graphically illustrated as a 3-tiered pyramid, the number of tiers or levels will vary depending upon resources available. Information regarding multi-level support can be filtered by specific tier and/or level.


Provides an overview of the five essential components of an effective reading program and discusses how to integrate each component with variables or practices associated with effective instruction and assessment.

Considering Tier 3 Within a Response-to-Intervention Model

Ervin, R. A. (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Tier 3 in an RtI framework is intended for students who are not responding to core instruction or supplemental interventions at Tier 2. This article details considerations within Tier 3 and three questions to ask about the student, strategies, available resources, and outcomes of interventions.

Article that discusses the preventative measures an RtI model would have on learning difficulties in literacy for struggling students. Torgesen suggests that early intervention would have strong effects on reading comprehension, vocabulary, oral language ability and other essential literacy areas. Also provides data from FCAT (Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test) which assesses word knowledge, conceptual understanding and interference skills from third to tenth grade. Torgesen explains that mastery of these three skills have a link to comprehension ability in older students.

A short article that provides a rationale for RtI and a discussion of its critical features: tiered approach and using assessment data to make better decisions about students. Also discussed is the nature of service delivery or interventions at a secondary level and lists the nature of positive outcomes associated with schools who implement a tiered approach at the middle and secondary levels.

Discusses a rationale for RtI in secondary education, including using preventative measures in literacy to avoid failure in other academic areas. Lists four myths that must be clarified in order for an RtI process to work at this level. Also poses possible opportunities and challenges an RtI approach may have on middle, junior, and high school. Includes a chart of questions to be asked about a school’s RtI approach with responses that demonstrate signs of readiness.

Online article that discusses the outcomes of an RtI implementation project in Berkley Springs High School, West Virginia. Thirty students were chosen based on literacy assessment scores and reading levels to participate in this study. The project focused on tracking improvements made in each of the three tiered levels. Based on the data all tiers showed some improvement. However, students given intensive, specialized instruction at tiers II and III made the most gains in fluency, comprehension and word identification. Other implications and suggestions for further adjustments on RtI at secondary level are briefly discussed at the end of the article.

Scientifically Based Research

NCREL Learning Points Associates

An eight-page booklet outlining criteria that enable school personnel to evaluate evidence of effectiveness of instructional practices/strategies. List specific characteristics associated with scientifically based research (SBR) along with guiding questions that can be used to evaluate SBR. A glossary of common research terms is also provided

A brief article that defines SBR and describes its historical roots. Explains in detail criteria used to distinguish whether programs or instruction is SBR. Also discusses implications of SBR for school personnel whose responsibility involves selection of program and practices supported by SBR.

The purpose of this article is to provide guidelines to help educators select interventions/curriculum within Tier 1 of an RtI model. It defines Tier 1 and SBR and relates the findings of the National Reading Panel regarding the five key components of an early literacy instruction with the need for programs that has been supported by scientific evidence. It also discusses the need to use SBR to inform decisions in other curriculum areas besides literacy, although research in other content areas is less developed.

A ten-page booklet that provides an overview of scientifically based research (SBR). The booklet begins with a definition of SBR based on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, followed by a series of questions teachers can use to help them determine if a particular instructional practice or strategy meets established standards for SBR


RtI Implementation Process for Middle School

National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI)

A 20 page informational brief published by the NCRTI.  The brief provides information and guidance relative to RtI implementation issues at the middles school.  Topics include:

-Planning and preparation
-Small-group intervention

A high school teacher’s account of RtI in her classroom.  RtI is explained and the process which took place in the four main components of RtI: Universal Screening, progress monitoring, intervention, and fidelity of implementation.  This brief also discusses the importance of collaboration in RtI and the challenges that may arise at the secondary level.   

RtI Scheduling Processes for Middle School

National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI)

An informational brief published by the NCRTI that responds to frequently asked questions concerning scheduling issues in middle school.  Based on observations, surveys, and interviews from administrators and staff from eleven middles schools implementing an RtI model. The brief offers guidance and support on the following issues:  

-Modifying schedules
-Planning for grade/level and/or content area meetings
-Staffing for smaller intervention classes
-Assessments: screening and progress monitoring

Guidance Documents

Provides a series of guidelines to help educators evaluate key features of a core reading program for students in grades 1-3.

Designing and Delivering Intensive Interventions: A Teacher Toolkit

Murray, C.S., Coleman, M., Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., Roberts, G. (2012)

A practice guide published by The Center on Instruction. It presents activities and resources to help school personnel construct and implement reading and mathematics interventions for students in grades k-12.

Guide developed by the U.S. Department of Education to help educators determine whether a program, intervention or instructional practice meets the SBR criteria established in NCLB (2002). Discusses how to evaluate interventions for effectiveness. The guide also breaks down the elements of research studies to conclude whether they are truly considered SBR.


A practice guide written by staff from the Florida Center for Reading Research and published by the Center on Instruction. It offers a wide range of K-5 student-centered activities teachers can ise to differentiate reading activities. The activities are organized according to the five critical elements of the reading process.

Power Point Presentations

Considering the I in RTI

Dr. D. Scanlon (2012)

This presentation was delivered at the 2012 NYS Council of School Superintendent’s winter institute. Dr. Scanlon presents the reasons for prevention versus classification. Much discussion is placed on reading difficulties and understanding how reading is a comprehensive and coherent process.

Core Instruction

IRA Commission on RtI: Lipson, M., Connor, C., Costello, K., & Marinak, B. (2010)

A powerpoint presentation, based on a March 2010 webinar, that highlights key elements of good core instruction. Presentation begins with a general overview of RtI before reviewing guidelines on instruction within and RtI framework. Distinguishes between what is and what is not a strong core literacy program and lists essential instructional decisions to be made relative to long-term goals, instructional outcomes, organization/scheduling, methods, materials, assessment and differentiation.

Differentiating Instruction

IRA Commission on RtI: Valencia, S., Connor, C., Laster, B. (2010)

A powerpoint presentation, based on a March 2010 webinar that begins with a review of RtI and a rationale for differentiation based on existing empirical evidence. Emphasizes the use of multiple assessment measures to group students according to need and the necessity of planning for differentiation. Discusses different ways to differentiate instruction and provides an Adaptation Framework that supports planning for differentiation.

The Content Literacy Continuum (CLC), developed by the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas, is a supportive framework that consists of five levels of increasing intensity designed to meet the needs of high, average, and low achievers at the middle school level. This presentation describes each of the five levels and how they can be incorporated into an RtI process.

RTI at the Secondary Level: How Do We Do This?

Engeln, J., Ehrn, B., & Kelly, T.

In this presentation for the 2009 NASSP Convention, there is a section on the changing roles of professionals. Each major role is outlined with brief descriptions on what responsibilities that person would have within the RtI model. The presentation also depicts why there needs to be a balance rather than an over reliance in roles.



scroll down and click on “NASSP Convention Handout”

Selecting and Implementing Evidence-Based Reading Interventions in a Response to Intervention Model

Carolyn A. Denton, Ph.D., Children’s Learning Institute, Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

A key component of RTI models in reading is the provision of high-quality evidence-based reading instruction and interventions. Dr. Denton will describe the current evidence from RTI reading research concerning the characteristics of effective Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. She will also describe research that addresses questions such as: (a) Where should reading interventions be provided? (b) Who can provide reading intervention? (c) How long should intervention be provided in each tier? (d) How should we measure intervention response? The primary emphasis will be on early intervention for the prevention of reading difficulties, but Dr. Denton will also describe the research base on interventions for students in the intermediate and secondary grades.


The learning of complex processes occurs incrementally and gradually. The learning builds on a foundation of pre-existing knowledge. In a typical primary grade classroom, children are likely to be at widely disparate places in terms of literacy abilities. They are not really to learn the same things. Instruction needs to take account of this reality. In this keynote, presented at the NYS RtI Summer Institute, Dr. Scanlon discusses ways to differentiate classroom literacy instruction in both whole class a small group contexts.

Within the RtI framework, Tier 1 is considered a critical component of a multi-tiered prevention system designed to accommodate the diverse needs of all students. It is generally thought of as the core literacy instruction students receive in the general education classroom. This workshop is designed to help individual schools evaluate the effectiveness of their core literacy program based on the following indicators: 
1.  How well it is meeting the needs of all students

2.  How well it addresses the essential components of an effective reading program

3.  How well it incorporates scientific research-based instruction that includes explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading fluency and reading comprehension strategies.

Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) is a research-validated instructional model designed to improve reading comprehension and content learning in general education and intervention
settings in grades 4-12. CSR can used to differentiate core instruction in content area classrooms or as an intervention at Tier 2 or 3 of an RtI model. CSR procedures are intended to maximize students’ involvement and support student success in heterogeneous, or mixed learning level, classrooms. Participants will learn to teach the core components of CSR (before, during, and after reading strategies); facilitate student-led textbased discussions; use CSR to support students with diverse learning needs
including English language learners in heterogeneous classrooms; and plan for successful integration of CSR into existing structures. Teachers will be provided with access to materials needed to implement CSR.

Response to Intervention can be defined as a schoolwide prevention framework that integrates assessment and intervention to improve student outcomes. While much of RtI research and attention has
focused on elementary models, RtI implementation at the middle school level is gaining momentum and increased attention. Implementing RtI in Middle School is an all-day workshop designed to provide RtI middle school teams with information and resources needed to effectively implement a multi-level
intervention model in their school. Attention will be devoted to examining various RtI models at the middle school level with respect to scheduling for supplemental intervention, screening, and progress monitoring.

Recognition & Response: RtI Goes to PreK

Buysse, V. & Peisner-Feinberg, E. (2011)

This presentation delivered by Dr. Virginia Buysse and Dr. Ellen Peisner-Feinberg was presented March 2011 at a conference hosted by the NYS Prekindergarten Administrators’ Association. Recognition & Response is a tiered model for high quality instruction and tiered model for providing high quality instruction and targeted interventions that are matched to the learning needs of 3 – 5 year-olds. The presentation describes the three components of the R&R system and how they differ across each tier. The presentation covers how universal screening and progress monitoring within an RtI/R&R framework differ from traditional methods of screening and assessment.

Participants will learn about the key features of the Recognition and Response (R&R) framework that is designed to enhance early academic learning in language, literacy, and mathematics. Participants will consider definitions and view video exemplars of key assessment and instructional practices, and will obtain practical information about tools and resources that can be used to implement R&R. Participants will have an opportunity to consider how the R&R approach fits with their existing program policies and practices, and identify concrete steps for implementing this approach in preschool classrooms. This all-day PD session will address the following topics:

Overview of the Recognition and Response Framework
Formative Assessments (Recognition)
Foundational and Targeted Instruction (Response)
Collaborative Problem-Solving
Planning for Implementation

A significant number of adolescents enter middle school unable to read and understand complex informational or narrative text. These students would benefit from a multi-tiered system
of supports that provide responsive reading instruction across tiers of a Response to Intervention Model. The overall goal of this professional development session is to provide general and special education
teachers, content area teachers, administrators, and support staff with foundational knowledge regarding best practices for older students who struggle to read.

This professional development opportunity will begin with a brief overview of RtI and the legislative components which take effect July of 2012. The results of a qualitative study that examined RtI implementation practices of middles schools from 28 states will also presented. A discussion involving the essential features of RtI at the middle school level will elaborate on the following topics:

Data-based decision making
Multi-level instruction
Secondary and tertiary intervention practices
Scheduling challenges

A key component of RTI models in reading is the provision of high-quality evidence-based reading instruction and interventions. Dr. Denton will describe the current evidence from RTI reading research concerning the characteristics of effective Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. She will also describe research that addresses questions such as: (a) Where should reading interventions be provided? (b) Who can provide reading intervention? (c) How long should intervention be provided in each tier? And (d) How should we measure intervention response? The primary emphasis will be on early intervention for the prevention of reading difficulties, but Dr. Denton will also describe the research base on interventions for students in the intermediate and secondary grades.

Classroom instruction plays a powerful role in literacy development and can be a determining factor in whether a child does, or does not experience literacy difficulties. To optimize outcome for all literacy learners, classroom literacy instruction needs to comprehensively address the multiple knowledge sources and problem solving strategies that effective reader and writers draw upon. In this presentation, Dr. Scanlon will discuss these knowledge sources and strategies and consider how they can be addressed in various components of language arts instruction.

When screening and/or progress monitoring data indicate below grade level reading performance, supplemental or tiered intervention is provided. Tiered interventions constitute the heart of an RtI framework, and to be effective, require instruction that is highly focused and aligned to core or primary reading instruction and to the needs of the student. This presentation will focus on the nature of tiered interventions in grades K-4 in terms of early foundational skills essential to proficient reading: alphabetic principle, decoding, sight words, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A discussion involving ELLs with respect to Tiers 2 and 3 intervention will center on the importance of vocabulary and spoken language.

Across New York State, schools are working tirelessly
to implement the ELA Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). At the
same time, schools are required to have established a prevention model
commonly known as Response to Intervention (RtI) to meet the literacy needs
of students in K – 4 who struggle to meet grade level expectations. This
workshop is designed to help school personnel understand how their RtI
framework can support the teaching and learning of CCLS in literacy. This
workshop will present practical approaches for creating a seamless integration
of RtI and CCLS. Attention will be devoted to helping classroom teachers
and reading specialists work collaboratively to meet the needs of children
who require something extra in order to achieve the expectations established
by the CCLS for ELA. A Powerpoint presentation supported by case studies
and interactive activities will be used to help school teams consider new
alternatives for differentiating instruction to most effectively meet the needs of
all students.


An Instrument for Screening New Practices for Adoption

National Implementation Research Network / Developed by Judy Smith-Davis, Ph.D.

Originally developed by Judy Smith-Davis for a federally-funded project, this tool has been updated and provides criteria schools should address when considering adoption of a new model, practice or product. 

Student Center Activities

Florida Center for Reading Research (2005)

Provides access to a wide range of reading activities organized by reading element and grade level for the purposes of helping teachers differentiate reading instruction. Each activity lists specific objective, needed materials, and detailed directions. All materials needed to implement each activity is all provided.


RtI in Middle School

Facilitated by Dr. Daryl Mellard and Sara Prewett from the National Center on Response to Intervention

An archived webinar presented by Dr. Daryl Mellard and Sara Prewett from the University of Kansas.  The webinar provides an introduction relative to what is currently known about the RtI process at the middle school level.  Discussion centers on the following issues: 

-Implementation and planning
-Assessment: screening and progress monitoring
-Tiered intervention
-Data-based decision-making
-Staff preparation

Selecting Evidence-Based Tools and Programs for Implementing Response-to-Intervention

National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI) – Presented by Dr. Allison Gandhi (2010)

This webinar provides an overview of the screening, progress monitoring, and instructional tools charts provided on the NCRTI website. The presenter walks through the process that teams can use when selecting an appropriate tool and what to think about when determining the actions your school/district will take when implementing RtI. Discussions about how to use the results to inform decisions about what your logistical needs and priorities are for your school/district; e.g. materials, space, time, LEP students, funds.


The Center for RtI in Early Childhood operates out of the University of Kansas in collaboration with Ohio State University, University of Minnesota and the Dynamic Measurement Group. It’s overall mission is to conduct research and disseminate resources and information relative to the implementation of RtI at the early childhood level. The website hosts information describing the RtI model at a preschool level and descriptions of interventions that can be used at Tiers 2 & 3 within an RtI framework. Links are also provided to articles describing the RtI process for young children.

The Florida Center for Reading Research (FRCC) provides useful information school based programs and interventions. It provides summaries of these programs and evaluates each one against criteria established by the NCLB (2002) on scientifically based research. The FRCC published a series of reports that provides a summary of instructional programs and interventions school districts are interested in using at various tiers with the RtI process.

A website that provides summarizes of programs and practices for children that have positive outcomes. Reviews and posts outcomes associated with efficacy studies of a variety of programs targeting education, family, and community. The site links research articles with programs, and also provides video clips, resources and tools, and an option to submit programs for review.

Recognition and Response: RtI for Pre-K

Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina

Operating out of the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. Recognition and Response is a tiered prevention model for children at the preschool level. The website provides information regarding this model as well as video clips that illustrate administration of universal screening and progress monitoring and tier 2 small group lessons

Created by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education, the Best Evidence Encyclopedia, commonly referred to as the “BEE,” is a free website offering summaries of scientific reviews. Each study is evaluated by a set of criteria which was created to determine the strength of the research. The BEE is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (I.E.S.).

Established in 2002, through an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science, its chief function is to assess the rigor of research evidence regarding interventions and programs used in schools. The website provides a set of guides that summarizes and rates the effectives of various curricula/programs using criteria established by NCLB (2002) on SBR.


Establishing an Effective Reading Program

Shanahan, T., Lyon, R., & Parker, C. (2005)

Online webcast designed to inform the viewer about choosing reading programs that coincide with state and federal requirements under NCLB. Discusses using SBR to inform educational practices and specific literacy elements that need to be developed in order for reading success.

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