Special Education

Minimum Requirements of a Response to Intervention Program (RtI)

III.     Instruction Matched to Student Need

A school district's process to determine if a student responds to scientific, research- based instruction shall include instruction matched to student need with increasingly intensive levels of targeted intervention and instruction for students who do not make satisfactory progress in their levels of performance and/or in their rate of learning to meet age or grade level standards.
[8NYCRR §100.2(ii)(1)(iii)]

Multi-tier Service Delivery Model

When students are identified through screening, progress monitoring or other on-going assessment procedures as not making sufficient or satisfactory progress, the school’s multi-tier service delivery model provides a range of supplemental instructional interventions with increasing levels of intensity to address these needs.  The various tiers include distinguishing features such as:

  • size of instructional group,
  • mastery requirements for content,
  • frequency and focus of screening,
  • duration of the intervention,
  • frequency and focus of progress monitoring,
  • frequency of intervention provided, and
  • the instructor’s qualifications.

A multi-tiered system can be viewed as layers of increasingly intense intervention that respond to student-specific needs (a continuum of instructional support provided to a student).  The number of tiers may vary depending upon the individual school and resources available.  For purposes of this document, a three-tier model will be described.

Levels of Intervention:Tier 1

Tier 1 is commonly identified as the core instructional program provided to all students by the general education teacher in the general education classroom. Research-based instruction and positive behavior intervention and supports are part of the core program. A school/district’s core program (Tier 1) should minimally include:

  • core curriculum aligned to the NYS learning standards;
  • appropriate instruction and research-based instructional interventions that meets the needs of  at least 80 percent of all learners;
  • universal screening administered to all students in the general education classroom three times per year;
  • weekly progress monitoring of students initially identified as at-risk for five or six weeks;
  • differentiated instruction based on the abilities and needs of all students in the core program; and
  • a daily uninterrupted 90 minute block of instruction in reading.

District policies and practices should ensure that parents are informed of curriculum goals and methods of instruction.

Appropriate instruction in reading means scientific research-based reading programs that include explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension strategies.

As indicated in Chapter I, the foundation of core instruction for LEP/ELL students should be both culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate. Tier 1 appropriate instruction for LEP/ELL students must include bilingual and ESL instruction, at levels pursuant to Part 154 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

Levels of Intervention: Tier 2

Tier 2 intervention is typically small group (3-5) supplemental instruction.  This supplemental instructional intervention is provided in addition to, and not in place of, the core instruction provided in Tier 1.  For example, a student who is receiving Tier 2 intervention would be provided core instruction plus 20-30 minutes of supplemental interventions three to five days per week. Tier 2 interventions focus on the areas of student need or weakness that are identified in the screening, assessment or progress monitoring reports from Tier 1. Therefore, students are often grouped according to instructional need.  Approximately 5 to 10 percent of students in a class receive Tier 2 intervention.

The location of Tier 2 intervention is determined by the school. It may take place in the general education classroom or in an alternate location outside of the general education classroom.  The determination of which interventions will be provided to an individual student is made by either a problem-solving process or a standard treatment protocol.  (See Chapter V on the decision-making process.)  Tier 2 interventions should be supported by research and vary by curriculum focus, group size, frequency, and duration.  Individual student needs affect the determination of these variables.

In Tier 2, direct, systematic instruction provides more teacher-directed instruction, carefully structured and sequenced to an individual student, than was provided in Tier 1.  The determination of a student’s achievement is well defined and mastery is achieved before moving on to the next step in the sequence.

Progress monitoring occurs more frequently in Tier 2 and may vary from once every two weeks to once a week using Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)2 that measure targeted skills.  Periodic checks to ensure that the delivery of instruction was provided in the way it was intended (fidelity checks) are conducted for the purposes of determining how closely the intervention or instruction is implemented to the way it was designed.

The recommended length of time a student spends in the second tier of intervention will vary from approximately nine to 30 weeks, depending on such factors as the skill set to be learned, rate of student’s progress, whether the student is making adequate progress according to the standard protocol established prior to initiation of the intervention, the student’s age and/or developmental level. When progress monitoring of a Tier 2 intervention indicates lack of adequate response, schools should consider adjusting the intervention in terms of intensity.

Levels of Intervention: Tier 3

Tier 3 intervention is designed for those students who demonstrate insufficient progress in Tier 2.  Tier 3 is typically reserved for approximately one to five percent of students in a class who will receive more intensive instruction in addition to their core instruction.  Tier 3 differs from Tier 2 instruction in terms of such factors as time, duration, group size, frequency of progress monitoring and focus.  This tier provides greater individualized instruction in a small group setting (generally one to two students at a time) anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes at a minimum of four days per week.  The progress of students at Tier 3 is monitored more frequently, at least once a week, to determine the student’s response to intervention.  Instruction is provided by school personnel who are highly skilled or trained in the areas of academic need indicated by student performance data. The setting for Tier 3 intervention is determined by school personnel.  It is important to note that Tier 3 is considered supplemental instruction to Tier 1 and is not intended to replace Tier 1 instruction. Similar to Tier 2, school personnel must conduct regular fidelity checks to determine if the intervention was implemented the way it was intended.

Parent Notification

In accordance with section 100.2(ii) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, when a student requires an intervention beyond that provided to all students and begins receiving Tier 2 intervention, parents must be notified in writing of the:

  • amount and nature of data that will be collected and the general education services that will be provided;
  • strategies to increase the student’s rate of learning; and
  • parent’s right to request an evaluation for special education programs and/or services.

It is important that schools keep parents informed of the student’s progress based upon progress monitoring data collected within each tier. This is consistent with section 200.4(j) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, which requires the parent of a student suspected of having a learning disability to receive data-based documentation of the student’s achievement at reasonable intervals reflecting formal assessment of a student’s progress during instruction. 


Quality Indicators for Multi-Level System
  • Each tier provides increasing levels of intensity of services that match the increasing needs of students.
  • Various factors distinguish each level or tier including duration and frequency of interventions, group size and frequency of progress monitoring.
  • Levels beyond Tier 1 represent supplemental intervention/instruction provided in addition to the core instructional program provided by qualified staff.
  • Interventions/instruction provided at each tier have evidence of effectiveness for the student population used.
  • Instruction matched to student need is based upon progress monitoring data and diagnostic data if deemed necessary.
  • Procedures and decision-making rules for determining a student’s movement from tier to tier are established and based on progress monitoring data.
  • Treatment fidelity procedures are designed and implemented to help monitor accuracy of interventions and assessment procedures.
  • Periodic checks are conducted to determine how closely the intervention or instruction was delivered in the way it was intended.
  • Parents are informed of increasing levels of instructional supplemental services including progress monitoring data, strategies used to increase student’s rate of learning and right to refer for special education services.

Table:  Description of Critical Elements in a 3-Tier RtI Model

The following table outlines the essential features of a three-tier model of RtI including suggested ranges of frequency and duration of screening, interventions and progress monitoring.  This is intended as guidance for districts as they determine the various components of their RtI model.

Elements Tier 1 Core Curriculum and Instruction Tier 2 Supplemental Instruction Tier 3 Increased Levels of Supplemental Instruction
Size of instructional group Whole class grouping Small group instruction (3-5 students) Individualized or small group instruction (1-2 students)
Mastery requirements of content Relative to the cut points identified on criterion screening measures and continued growth as demonstrated by progress monitoring Relative to the cut points identified on criterion screening measures and continued growth as demonstrated by progress monitoring Relative to the student’s level of performance and continued growth as demonstrated by progress monitoring.
Frequency of progress monitoring Screening measures three times per year Varies, but no less than once every two weeks Varies, but more continuous and no less than once a week
Frequency of intervention provided Per school schedule Varies, but no less than three times per week for a minimum of 20-30 minutes per session Varies, but more frequently than Tier 2 for a minimum of 30 minutes per session
Duration of intervention School year 9-30 weeks A minimum of 15-20 weeks

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Johnson, E., Mellard, D., Fuchs, D., McKnight, M. for NRCLD (2006, August) Responsiveness to Intervention (RtI):  How to Do It


Essential Task List for Tier 1 Instruction

Directions:  In the second column, write the name of the individual or team who will assume responsibility for the task identified in the first column.  In the third column, write the deadline for or status of the task.  Complete each task identified.

Task Responsible Individual/Team Timeline/Status
Identify scientifically based instructional programs in reading, writing, and math.    
Select evidence-based curricula/interventions and resources to accompany core instructional programs.    
Adopt a system to measure fidelity of implementation.    
Select and implement a school-wide academic and behavior screening program.    
Identify team and process (direct route vs. progress monitoring route) to manage screening results.    
Establish data-collection system and implement systematic monitoring of student progress (such as curriculum-based measurement) to determine both level and growth rate.    
Identify team and process to analyze progress monitoring results.    
Develop decision rules (including cut scores) to determine which students are at risk and require more intense instructional support.    
Develop a program of continuous, rigorous professional development experiences related to scientifically based curriculum and teaching practices, progress monitoring, implementing practices with fidelity, and data-based decision-making.    
Develop and implement a process for collaborating with the problem-solving team and monitoring student movement between Tier 1 and Tier 2.    
Decide when to initiate parent involvement.    

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Mellard, D.F., Johnson, E. (2008).  RTI A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing Response to Intervention


Essential Task List for Tier 2 and Beyond

Directions:  In the second column, write the name of the individual or team who will assume responsibility for the task identified in the first column.  In the third column, write the deadline for or status of the task.  Complete each task identified.

Task Responsible Individual/Team Timeline/Status
Identify structure or make-up of problem-solving team.    
Select resources, curricula, and interventions for use with standard protocol approach in reading (decoding and comprehension), math, and writing.    
Create and continue the development of resources on evidence-based instructional strategies to support identified students.    
Schedule time for general and special education teachers to collaborate, observe, implement, and evaluate strategies.    
Develop decision rules (cut scores, exit criteria) for re­maining in or moving out of Tier 2 and beyond (respon­siveness vs. unresponsiveness).    
Implement a system of data collection and progress monitoring for Tier 2 and beyond to determine level and growth rate.    
Provide professional development opportunities for problem solving and protocol approaches.    
Ensure time is scheduled and process is established for teams to meet and review student needs.    
Determine level of intensity of instruction for Tier 2 and beyond (how often, how long, size of instructional group).    
Identify measures and procedures to document fidelity of implementation of interventions.    
Establish procedures to provide written notification to parents of students receiving Tier 2 intervention.      

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Johnson, E., Mellard, D.F., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M.A. (2006).  Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI):  How to do it.  Lawrence, KS: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities.

2 Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) is a method teachers use to find out how students are progressing in basic academic areas such as math, reading, writing, and spelling. (The National Center on Student Progress Monitoring:  http://www.studentprogress.org/families.asp).

Last Updated: November 9, 2010