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Tier 2 Reading


Tier 2 interventions are the additional programs and strategies provided to students who require supports in addition to universal supports. The purpose of tier 2 interventions is to reduce the risk of academic or behavior problems. The following are critical features of tier 2 interventions. 

Small Group and Instructional Time

It is most efficient to group students with similar needs together for tier 2 interventions. Tier 2 interventions include increasing the amount of instructional time in addition to tier 1 reading instruction. 

At the elementary level, the recommended group size is three to five students. The interventions should take place three to five times per week for 20 to 40 minutes.

At the secondary level, the recommended group size is 12 or fewer students.

Matched to Student Need(s)

Tier 2 interventions should be deliberately selected to focus on the specific big idea(s) in reading that the student needs to develop. Specific decision rules should be developed to determine which students would benefit from a specific tier 2 intervention. These entry criteria are used to best match students to interventions based on their specific needs.

At the elementary level, the focus of intervention instruction should be on one or more of the big ideas (phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle (basic phonics), fluency, vocabulary, and/or comprehension).

At the secondary level, intervention instruction should focus on the big ideas of adolescent reading (advanced word study/phonics, fluency with connected text, vocabulary, comprehension, and/or motivation).

Explicit Instruction

Intervention instruction should be explicit, meaning the instruction follows an instruction routine that includes:

  • A series of supports or scaffolds.
  • Guiding students through learning with clear expectations about the purpose and rationale for learning the skill(s).
  • Explanations and demonstrations that are clear and include "think-alouds" ("I do").
  • Step-by-step demonstrations of the instructional target ("we do").
  • Supported practice with immediate instructional feedback until independent mastery is reached ("you do").

Opportunities to Practice

Intervention instruction includes deliberate increases in opportunities to respond. This is maximized through the group size as well as the design of the instruction. Intervention should be characterized by a brisk teaching pace that increases the number of opportunities for individual and groups of students to respond with immediate feedback. It should also include judicious practice that includes initial practice, distributed practice, and cumulative practice and review over time.

Frequent Feedback

Intervention instruction should include increased feedback to students on their performance. Both immediate affirmative and corrective feedback is necessary to increase student academic performance.

Progress Monitoring

As the intensity of intervention increases, the frequency of progress monitoring should also increase. This includes collecting data on student outcomes as well as data related to the use of the intervention with fidelity. The specific skills that are being taught should be routinely monitored (e.g., at least twice a month). Tier 2 interventions often include assessments built into an intervention program (e.g., end of unit mastery tests). These data are also used to monitor student performance over time. Progress monitoring data are used to adjust the intervention as appropriate.

Fading Supports

Decision rules should be established to determine when a student’s performance meets exit criteria. This means the students has made sufficient progress and will no longer receive the tier 2 intervention instruction.

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