Tier 3: Intensive Intervention

When student progress remains significantly below that of other students and Tier 2 interventions have not provided enough support, the student may need to move to Tier 3 for more intensive intervention. Tier 2 interventions are designed to provide general basic skill instruction for all students. Most students in Tier 2 make good progress and remain in Tier 2 or move back to independence levels in Tier 1.

Tier 3 intervention differs from Tier 2 in a couple of ways. First, the timing increases to provide additional minutes per day of intensive research-based instruction. Also, the type of instruction will be differentiated for these students to include highly specialized programming for students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or positive behavior supports. The needs of the student in Tier 3 interventions differs from generic basic skills instruction in Tier 2 and leans more toward individualized instruction that is more sensory/motor, language based, with counseling and behavior redirection as needed. Highly specialized instruction for a longer time each day is the purpose of intensive intervention. RTI tiers are often referred to as “benchmark” for Tier 1, “strategic” for Tier 2, and “intensive” for Tier 3.

Instructional Delivery

The instructional delivery system might be classroom-based for younger students or pull-out services for the older student. Grouping considerations will be the same as for Tier 2. Some schools consider Tier 3 as Special Education. In the state of Texas, the general education dyslexia program is provided at Tier 3. Some schools have chosen to use a 4 tier model where they place special education referrals as a Tier 4 intervention. The number of tiers and length of time designated for each tier are campus-based decisions.


Student progress is measured using the same tools as in Tier 2. However, the monitoring of a student’s progress warrants measurement more frequently to effectively monitor academic growth. Students in the Tier 3 level of intervention are also closely monitored in other academic or behavior areas. Students are monitored for levels of independence in coursework and classroom behaviors. Student support teams will review the student’s progress monthly. Each consideration is documented from progress monitoring to anecdotal notes to classroom observations. This careful documentation is imperative when making a referral for special education. Assessment personnel will need to review this data when determining eligibility for special education. IDEA 2004 captured many elements seen in NCLB about evidence based practices, but added increased emphasis on using data to inform instruction and to provide evidence for possible eligibility for special education services.


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