Tier 2: Standard Intervention
Students who fall below the expectations for their grade levels on the oral reading or math fluency probes or the early measures of letter/sound and phoneme sequencing are assigned to Tier 2. IN ADDITION to Tier 1 instruction, an additional time per day gives teachers time to re-teach the elements of reading that are problematic (Kaminski & Good, 1996). This often proves to be additional time to learn phonemic awareness or phonics and spelling. In math, the skill set includes number sense, calculation fluency and problem solving instruction that is scientifically based.
For younger students in kindergarten or grades 1 and 2, Tier 2 intervention is often delivered in small group settings in the general reading classroom (Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005; Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Fuchs & Deshler, 2007). The skills that are targeted for instruction are often the same skills or very similar to the skills being presented in the general reading program. There is no need to pull these students from their general classrooms but simply to provide an additional amount of time for the students to master the basic skills of reading. This is easily accomplished in a small group within the general classroom.
The pull-out method is often employed for the older student. This is due to the nature of the instruction for the older struggler who has yet to master their basic decoding ability. As students progress through the grades, the instructional focus and amount of time allotted in the general classroom is not sufficient for the teaching basic skills for targeted students. In addition, teachers of upper elementary and middle school grades are typically not well trained in basic decoding skill instruction; therefore, this additional instruction would need to be delivered outside of the general education classroom (Tilly, 2002; Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005).
In the pull out version, students receive an additional 30 minutes of instruction targeted at their individual needs. Students are grouped by needs as much as possible. Scheduling takes considerable time and is best done at the end of the year when the school personnel begin planning for the next year. Targeted students in Tier 2 will also continue to receive Tier 1 as their primary reading instruction.
The provision of Tier 2 intervention differs from the tracking practices of the past. In the tracking model, students were grouped into entire classrooms based on their level of skills and deficits, compared to their peers. The result was a classroom filled with strugglers who had a variety of needs for instruction. These decisions were based on teachers’ estimates of what students needed without specific assessment data collected. In contrast, the Tier 2 model uses the evidence from the reading or math assessment probes to determine not only who will go to intervention, but which areas of instruction they will need. Tier 2 groups are formed according to this data. This approach in Tier 2 is more commonly referred to as data based educational decision making (Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005; Deno, 2002; Tilly, 2002.)
Another important distinction between tracking and the use of Tier 2 instruction lies in the time devoted to placement. With tracking practices, students were usually placed into a classroom for the entire year. With Tier 2 practices, a student is placed into a small group for intervention that lasts for 12 to 15 weeks on average. At that time, the student’s performance is evaluated using informal instructional assessment probes. If the student is performing close to grade level expectations, then the student could be dismissed from Tier 2 interventions and receive only the general reading program. If the student still needs the extra time and support from the Tier 2 intervention, they will be allowed to remain in the secondary Tier 2 placement for additional instruction time before being evaluated again. A student’s response to the specific intervention, as measured by instructional data, is the evidence that moves a student from one tier to another. Some students stay in Tier 2 for a short time, others stay a longer time. Regardless, all Tier 2 students continue to receive their primary instruction in the general classroom.
As with Tier 1 instruction, Tier 2 services are intended to be done with materials that are research-based and meet a variety of goals. This means that not only are they effective to teach the targeted skill, but they have also been deemed appropriate for students of particular backgrounds and cultures. Schools will often compare their student demographics to available programs and materials. Materials will be chosen based on the best fit to the students’ needs as well as the school demographics. Schools may also use guidance from any of the research documents found at the Institute for Education Sciences.
Curriculum based measurement (CBM) is the practice of using simple probes such as reading passages, spelling lists, or types of math problems at a particular grade level to measure the student’s progress in attaining specific instructional goals. The oral reading fluency probe is commonly used to measure growth in reading while the math is measured using probes for math calculations and problem solving skills. CBM evolved from work by Deno and Mirkin in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s at the Minnesota Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities (Deno & Mirkin, 1977).
The National Center for Progress Monitoring, funded by the federal government, provides research, guidance, and professional development for states and schools to examine as they work to address student needs across tiers. Progress monitoring is an ongoing process that allows the teacher to measure the student’s skill development over time. Teachers monitor student data to determine if the student is making progress toward the goal or not. Some students might be dismissed from Tier 2 interventions, but caution is urged in dismissing students too soon. A student’s good progress must be sustained for several weeks to ensure the student is operating at an independent level.
Before moving to the more intensive Tier 3 interventions, several questions should be answered concerning the student. Some examples are:
- Has the student been in the intervention enough time to be able to see growth?
- Does the focus of the intervention match the student’s most basic need?
- Is the student getting enough time with each lesson?
- Is the grouping of students appropriate?
- Is there something in the student’s home life that may have an impact on learning?