Multi-Tiered Instruction

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The NDMTSS Framework includes a school-wide, multilevel system of instruction and interventions for preventing school failure and provides opportunities for all students to succeed. (Commonly represented by the three-tiered triangle/RTI Model)

Primary level prevention focuses on all students. It includes the core curriculum and the differentiated instruction delivered within the regular education classroom setting. The core curriculum is the course of study deemed critical and usually mandatory for all students of a school or district. Core curricula are often instituted at the elementary and secondary levels by local school boards, departments of education, or other administrative agencies charged with overseeing education. Such curricula should be research-based and incorporate differentiated instruction. Within the core curriculum, teaching and learning should be well articulated from one grade to another and within grade levels so that students have highly similar experiences, regardless of their assigned teacher.

Universal screening, continuous progress monitoring, and outcome measures or summative assessments are commonly used to inform instructional decisions. Universal screening is used to determine the effectiveness of the core curriculum and identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes. Progress monitoring is used to confirm risk status and monitor the progress of students not receiving secondary or tertiary interventions. Outcome measures or summative assessments are used for accountability.

  • Selecting Evidence-based Practices – The Center on Response to Intervention’s learning module focuses on the steps needed to select evidence-based practices and provides guidance on how to use online resources that provide information on curricula and interventions. Participants will walk through the steps of using these online resources to select evidence-based practices for their districts and schools. 
  • Best Evidence Encyclopedia – Gives educators and researchers fair and useful information about the strength of the evidence supporting a variety of programs available for students in grades K-12.
    Created by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education (CDDRE) under funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
  • What Works Clearinghouse – The goal of the WWC is promote informed education decision making by providing educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence about “what works” in education. Through systematic reviews to identify rigorous research, the WWC provides educators with credible and reliable evidence that they can use to make informed decisions.
    WWC was established in 2002 as an initiative of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education.

The secondary level of prevention supplements and aligns with the core curriculum. Therefore, secondary prevention does not replace primary prevention. Students included in secondary prevention participate in both the primary (the core curriculum and instruction) and secondary levels of prevention (the supplemental support). It typically involves small-group instruction that relies on evidence-based interventions that specify the instructional procedures, the duration, and the frequency of instruction. The secondary level of prevention has at least three distinguishing characteristics: (1) it is evidence based (rather than research based); (2) it relies entirely on adult-led, small-group instruction rather than whole-class instruction; and (3) it involves a clearly articulated, validated intervention that should be adhered to with fidelity.

The secondary level of prevention focuses on students identified through screening as being at risk for poor learning outcomes. Progress monitoring and diagnostic assessments are used within a secondary prevention system to match student needs to interventions.

At the tertiary level of prevention, well-trained staff often begin with a more intensive version of the intervention program used in the secondary level of prevention (e.g., longer sessions, smaller group size, and/or more frequent ses­sions). The interventions used are evidence-based standard protocols or are based on validated progress monitoring methods for inductively individualizing instruc­tion. Diagnostic assessments may also be used to identify appropriate interventions based on student needs.

Frequent progress monitoring (i.e., at least weekly) quantifies the effects of the intervention program by depicting the student’s rate of improvement over time. Student learning trajectories, based on end-of-year goals, should be set for all tertiary-level students to determine the degree to which a student is making adequate progress and determine if changes in intervention intensity are necessary.

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