Special Education

Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides for  Behavioral Supports and Interventions - Small Group Interventions

The State Education Department
The University of the State of New York
Albany, NY 12234

Office of Special Education

Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides for Behavioral Supports and Interventions - PDF PDF Document (1.05 MB)

  1. School-Wide Positive Behavioral Systems
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Small Group Interventions (SGI) for At-Risk Students (Updated May 2014)
  4. Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions

Small group intensive interventions for at-risk students (also referred to as targeted, Tier 2, or secondary interventions) are designed to build skills with a subset of students with similar behavioral needs who are not responding to the school-wide system. The interventions are part of a school-wide discipline program that emphasizes prevention and data-based decision-making to both reduce problem behavior and improve academic performance.

Key Questions:   Is there an effective school-wide positive discipline system in place?  Have resources been allocated to sustain small group interventions; i.e., a structure to communicate and monitor implementation and professional development?

SGI Indicator:  School/District Infrastructure

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1:  District and Administrative Support

There is visible district and administrative support for implementing targeted small group interventions.
  • The principal is an active participant in planning and implementing small group interventions.
  • Principal and district administration provide program oversight to ensure program is being delivered as designed.
  • Adequate resources and programmatic flexibility are provided to implement small group interventions with fidelity.
  • The district governance (e.g., Board) and school community are informed, at least annually, of program effectiveness .
Meeting rosters, memos, records of classroom visits, budgets, schedules, job descriptions, BOE minutes, newsletters/website


Component 2:  Intensification of School-Wide System

The school-wide behavioral system is intensified for targeted students and settings. (See Office of Special Education QI Form on School-Wide PBS for Quality Indicators of a school-wide behavioral system.)
  • There is a consistent school-wide positive discipline system in place.
  • Team uses on-going behavioral data, like office discipline referrals, to identify both students and school settings in need of intensive interventions.
  • When at-risk students are identified, a plan is developed and implemented to increase intensity of school-wide program for those students; (e.g., reteaching and preteaching expectations, increasing frequency & relevance of acknowledgements, modifying procedures and/or increasing consistency of consequences for those students).
  • When a problem setting is identified, a plan is developed and implemented to increase intensity of the school-wide program in that setting; (e.g., reteaching expectations, increasing acknowledgements, modifying procedures and/or increasing consistency of consequences in that setting).
  • Frequency of monitoring of behavior for those students and/or that setting increases during intervention
School-wide program evaluation, action or implementation plan, office discipline referrals, data records, team minutes, monitoring checklists/forms


Component 3:  Data-Based Decision-Making

An effective data-based decision-making process is in place.
  • A decision-making process is in place to identify students in need of additional small group or individual intervention.
  • The process includes analysis of root causes and selection of interventions based on an understanding of the function of students' behaviors.
  • Data from multiple sources are used to determine which at-risk students are in need of small group interventions, including:
    • Valid and reliable behavioral screenings
    • Student profiles which include strengths and areas of social competence
    • Academic as well as behavioral data
    • Data on office discipline referrals, attendance and credit accrual
  • A team reviews behavioral and social/emotional data of students in small group interventions at least monthly to:
    • Establish benchmarks for student responses to interventions
    • Make decuisions about need for continuation or modification of interventions for individual students
    • Evaluate system and ensure data collection and interventions are being implemented as intended.
Evaluation report, team minutes


Component 4:  Evidence-Based Interventions

The research and evidence base is reviewed in selecting targeted small group interventions.
  • The school has a process for selecting small group interventions that includes reviewing the research to determine whether those interventions have been:
    • or have elements that have been, evaluated in a peer-reviewed journal;
    • replicated across investigators, settings and participants;
    • proven effective in settings similar to this school;
    • shown to produce outcomes like the desired outcome.
  • Evidence is collected on an on-going basis on the effectiveness of the intervention.
Web-based resources below, journal articles, team notes, data analysis reports


Component 5:  Integrated Delivery of Services

Targeted small group interventions are integrated seamlessly into school-wide programs.
  • There are a range of planned alternative interventions for at-risk students.
  • Small group intensive interventions are continuously available and access to interventions is rapid and efficient.
  • Small group intensive interventions are consistent with school-wide interventions and reinforcement systems.
  • Small group interventions are available in the district across all grades levels, emphasizing early identification in grades K to 3.
  • The continuum includes alternative instructional settings for students at greatest risk for dropping out, like: school within a school,  evening school, and alternative school.
School-wide discipline plan, QIP, district plan
Special Education BOE report


Programs and Strategies for Positive Behavior:  Alternative Educational Strategies: a brief listing of the characteristics identified in research of effective alternative settings: http://www.emstac.org/registered/topics/posbehavior/intensive/alternative.htmexternal link

Component 6:  On-going staff development

There is high-quality, on-going staff development that includes technical assistance in implementing best practices.
  • All school staff are knowledgeable about small group interventions and at least 80 percent support the program.
  • Appropriate school staff are fully trained in providing general and disability-specific small group interventions.
  • New personnel are oriented to interventions.
  • Technical assistance is provided to teachers about components of interventions.
  • A system is in place to check fidelity of implementation and provide retraining as needed.
  • Staff regularly share effective practices across and within grade levels.
  • Staff are regularly acknowledged for their implementation of the program.
Survey results, attendance records, training evaluations, teacher report, surveys, observation checklists


Key Question:  Does the school have effective, evidence-based, targeted small group interventions in place for behaviorally at-risk students?
The following Components appear consistently in a variety of research-based small group targeted interventions.  The Look Fors are examples of research-based activities that might be included as part of that component.

SGI Indicator:  Evidence-Based Small Group Intervention Strategies for Students who are Behaviorally At-Risk

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1:  Family/School Connection

There are systems in place to maintain and strengthen the family/school connection.
  • Behavior is viewed as an interaction between school, home, student, and community.
  • Intervention plans are developed in collaboration with family and student.
  • Parents are provided training in positive discipline procedures and problem solving.
  • Parents are provided training in supporting their children in school/academic activities.
  • Parent-to-parent connections are developed through parent group meetings.
  • School staff make home visits.
  • Strategies are in place to increase home-school communication and a working partnership that ensures consistent reinforcement of agreed-upon behaviors.
  • Families are connected to community/social services.
  • School works actively with community-based organizations.
Surveys, plan sign-off, attendance and training evaluations, notes home, phone logs, service logs, meeting minutes, collaborative programs


Component 2:  Relationship Building

Activities are in place that are designed to connect at-risk students to all parts of the school and community.
  • There is a positive school climate in which at-risk students are included and feel accepted.
  • Students are engaged in specific activities to build positive peer relationships, like peer tutoring, social groups, and after-school activities.
  • Students are engaged in specific activities to build positive student-staff relationships, including mentoring and tutoring.
  • Students are engaged in specific activities to build a positive connection to the school, including extracurricular activities and cross-age tutoring.
  • Students are engaged in specific activities to build positive family relationships, like family recreational activities.
  • Students are engaged in specific activities to build positive community relationships, like service internships and mentoring.
Surveys, enrollment records, attendance


Component 3:  Social Skills Instruction Selected and Provided

A research-supported social skills curriculum is taught to targeted students.
  • At-risk students are instructed utilizing a supported and consistent social skills curriculum using cognitive-behavioral principles.
  • Instruction addresses the acquisition, performance and generalization of the following types of prosocial behaviors::
    • effective communication;
    • group participation and cooperation strategies;
    • managing and expressing emotions;
    • empathy and perspective taking;
    • ability to set and achieve goals;
    • problem-solving and conflict resolution;
    • developing a self-reflective, open approach to daily living;
    • self-monitoring, self-regulating, and self-reinforcement strategies; and
    • team building.
  • Curricular materials provide technical validation data including results of outcome studies.
  • Curricular materials include assessment procedures for screening, monitoring progress, and instructional decision-making.
  • Instructional strategies include modeling, role-plays, feedback and generalization training.
  • Adults model positive social interactions.
  • Students are engaged in activities in which they are supported in generalizing skills, in settings such as the classroom, afterschool recreational programs, internships, play and social groups, and hands-on learning.
Curriculum guide, lesson plans, observations, enrollment records, attendance


Component 4:  Academic Support

Additional academic supports are provided to behaviorally at-risk students.
  • Classroom instruction is engaging and instructional techniques/methods are varied for non-traditional learners.
  • Match between student abilities and instruction level is assessed and addressed.
  • Tutoring is provided in areas of academic delay.
  • There are research-based small group and individual academic interventions.
  • Instructional techniques/methods are reflective of differences in student experiences, interests, and cultures.
  • Social-emotional skills and strategies are included in all academic instruction.
  • Students are taught meta-cognitive skills; i.e., they learn to think about how they learn.
  • Assessment and instruction in vocational skills is provided, if appropriate.
Enrollment records, attendance, student work product, evaluation results, lesson plans, school plan, assessment report


For detailed information on Special Education Instructional Practices  https://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/techassist/specedQI.htm

Component 5:  Transitions Addressed

Programs are in place to help students make successful transitions of all types.
  • Proactive strategies are in place for students transitioning from:
    • home to school
    • school system to school system
    • class to class
    • program to program
    • building to building
    • school to postsecondary
School plan, common planning schedule, meeting records, transition plans, IEPs


Component 6:  Effective In-School Suspension

In-school suspension has the elements required to insure success.
  • In-school suspension programs have a coordinator and a consistent set of written policies.
  • In-school suspension classes have low student-teacher ratios.
  • Classroom teachers provide daily assignments for students in in-school suspension.
  • In-school suspension programs include time for assessment and intervention focused on developing replacement behaviors.
  • Parents are notified of in-school suspensions and involved in the process.
  • In-school suspension options are offered that include service to the school community.
Program description, school plan, daily program records, lesson plans, FBAs


Key Question:  Are proactive classroom and nonclassroom behavioral support systems in place to reduce need for targeted small group interventions?  (See Office of Special Education Quality Indicator on Classroom Management for more in-depth indicators)


SGI Indicator: Classroom Behavioral Supports

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors:Comments/Evidence

Component 1:  Classroom Management

Effective classroom management strategies are used in all classrooms.
  • Classroom behavioral expectations are aligned with school-wide behavioral expectations.
  • Classroom behavioral expectations are explicitly taught in all classrooms.
  • Consequences for problem behavior in the classroom are consistent with school-wide plan.
  • Students in every classroom receive a greater number of positive than negative acknowledgements.
  • Students in every classroom are engaged in meaningful academic work.
  • Routines from one classroom to the next are not in conflict.
Posters of class rules, teacher/student interview, lesson plans, student interviews, office discipline referral forms, teacher/student interview, observations

Component 2:  Nonclassroom Behavioral Supports

Effective management strategies are used in all nonclassroom settings.
  • Behavioral expectations for hallways, playgrounds, buses, cafeteria, bathrooms & other nonclassroom settings are aligned with school-wide behavioral expectations.
  • Behavioral expectations for each setting have been explicitly taught.
  • Consequences for problem behavior in these settings are consistent with school-wide plan.
  • Students receive a greater number of positive than negative acknowledgements in these settings.
  • Paraprofessionals and other staff responsible for these settings have been trained in the school-wide program.
  • Paraprofessionals/other staff responsible for these settings receive data on program implementation.
Posters in each setting, lesson plans, office discipline referral forms, student/staff interviews, training schedule, sign-ins, staff meeting minutes

Key Question:  Does the school have a consistent and comprehensive system for developing and implementing interventions for students with significant individualized behavioral support needs? (See Office of Special Education Quality Indicators on Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions for more in-depth indicators)

SGI Indicator:  Interventions for students with chronic difficulties

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1:  Intensive Interventions for Students with Chronic Behavioral Difficulties

Evidence-based intensive individualized interventions for students with chronic and severe behavioral difficulties are in place.
  • School maintains and reviews records of student behavior in order to identify chronic behavior concerns.
  • Support teams are available to staff when concerns arise regarding student behavior.
  • Functional assessments are conducted for all students in need of an individualized behavior plan.
  • Individualized behavior plans are implemented with fidelity.
  • Individualized strategies to address student behavior are implemented across all school environments.
  • Quality assessments are completed on a timely basis.
  • Individualized assessment and intervention strategies build on school-wide practices.
  • School has established team to work with community agencies and families to provide wraparound services.
Behavioral incident reports, team roster, staff memo, FBAs, IEPs, BIPs & teacher reports, team minutes

Selected Bibliography

Bohanon-Edmonson, H., Flannery, K.B., Eber, L. & Sugai, G. (2005). Positive Behavior Support in High Schools: Monograph from the 2004 Illinois High School Forum of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supportsexternal link.  Chapter 8, pg 73, is on targeted Interventions and alternatives to suspension.  (118 pgs).

Bost, L.W. & Riccomini, P.J. (2006).  Effective instruction:  An inconspicuous strategy for dropout preventionexternal link (Abstract).  Remedial and Special Education, 27(5), pp. 301-311.  Review of research-supported instructional strategies for students with disabilities, from the perspective of dropout prevention.  Appendix is particularly helpful.

Caspe, M. & Lopez, M.E.  (2006).  Lessons from family-strengthening interventions:  Learning from evidence-based practiceexternal link.  Harvard Family Research Project, Cambridge, MA.  Descriptions of evidence-based programs for strengthening families that impact on school performance.

Ford, L & Amaral, D. (2006)  Research on Parent Involvement:  Where We’ve Been and Where We Need to Goexternal link.  Report from British Columbia Educational Leadership Research. Literature review on parent involvement.

Gresham, F.M., Sugai, G., & Horner, R.H.  (2001) Interpreting Outcomes of Social Skills Training for Students with High Incidence Disabilities. Exceptional Children, 67(3), pp. 331-44. Recommendations for designing effective social skills instruction.

Horner, R. H., & Sugai, G. (2001). Data” need not be a four-letter wordexternal link (abstract): Using data to improve schoolwide discipline. Beyond Behavior, 11(1), 20-22. Describes a process by which a school can begin to use behavioral data effectively.

Kalbert, J.R., Lane, K.L., & Menzies, H.M. (2010). Using Systematic Screening Procedures to Identify Students Who are Nonresponsive to Primary Prevention Efforts:  Integrating Academic and Behavioral Measures.  Education and Treatment of Children, 33(4), pp. 561-584. Examines use of the SSBD as a schoolwide behavior screening tool.

Kennelly, L. & Monrad, M.  (2007).  Approaches to dropout prevention: Heeding early warning signs with appropriate interventions.external link   National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research, US Dept of Education.

Landrum T.J., Tankersley, M & Kauffman, J.M. (2003).  What is special about Special Education for students with emotional or behavioral disabilities?  Journal of Special Education, 37(3), pp. 1480156. 

Lehr, C.A. (2004)  Increasing school completion: Learning from research-based practices that work:  Research to practice brief.external link  Improving Secondary Education and Transition Services through Research, 3(3).

Lewis, T.J., Jones, S.E.L., Horner, R.H., & Sugai, G. (2010). School-Wide Positive Behavior support and Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders: Implications for Prevention, Identification and Intervention. Exceptionality,18, pp. 82-93.  Talks about how PBIS might help prevent emotional/behavioral disorders.

McIntosh, K., Campbell, A., Carter, D.R., & Dickey, C.R. (2009). Differential Effects of a Tier Two Behavior Intervention Based on Function of Problem Behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 11(2), pp. 82-93.

Morrison, G.M., Cosden, M.A., O’Farrel, S.L., & Campos, E. ((2003). Changes in Latino Students’ Perceptions of School Belonging over Time:  Impact of Language Proficiency, Self-Perceptions and Teacher Evaluations. The California School Psychologist, 8, pp. 87-98. Examines factors that contribute to a sense of “school belonging.”

Myers, D.M. & Briere, D.E. III (2010). Lessons Learned from Implementing a Check-in/Check-out Behavioral Program in an Urban Middle School. Beyond Behavior, 19(2), pp. 21-27. 

Reinke, W.M., Splett, J.D., Robeson, E.N., Offutt, C.A. (2009). Combining School and Family Interventions for the Prevention and Early Intervention of Disruptive Behavior Problems in Children:  A Public Health Perspective. Psychology in the Schools, 45(1), pp. 33-43. Presents a strategy for linking a school’s PBIS system with service from the Family Resource Center.

Riccomini, P.J., Bost, L.W., Katsiyannis, A. & Zhang, D. (2005).  Cognitive-behavioral interventions:  An effective approach to help students with disabilities stay in school.external link National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD).  Describes the components of cognitive-behavioral interventions with students with disabilities.

Scott, T.M., Nelson, C.M. & Liaupsin, C.J.  (2001).  Effective instruction:  The forgotten component in preventing school violenceexternal link (abstract).  Education and Treatment of Children, 24(3), pp 309-322.  Review of literature on effect of improving instruction on school violence.

Simonsen, B., Myers, D. & Briere, D.E. III (2011). Comparing a Behavioral Check-In/Check-Out (CICO) Intervention to Standard Practice in an Urban Middle School Using an Experimental Group Design. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 13(1), pp. 31-48.

Snyder, M. & Bambara, L. (1997).  Teaching secondary students with learning disabilities to self-manage classroom survival skillsexternal link. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(5), pp. 534-543.  Describes a multi-component self-management intervention for students with learning disabilities.

Sugai, G. & Fuller, M. (1991) A decision model for social skills curriculum analysis.  Remedial and Special Education, 12, 33-42.  Describes a process for selecting an appropriate social skills curriculum for your particular situation and group of students—good decision-making model.   Abstract.external link

Thompson, A.M. & Webber, K.C. (2010). Realigning Student and Teacher Perceptions of School Rules:  A Behavior Management Strategy for Students with Challenging Behaviors. Children & Schools, 32(2), pp. 71-79. Short article on how to intensify a school-wide PBIS program for a small group of students with challenging behaviors using self-ratings of behavior.

Todd, A.W., Campbell, A.L., Meyer, G.G. & Horner, R.H. (2008). The Effects of a Targeted Intervention to Reduce Problem Behaviors: Elementary School Implementation of Check In – Check Out. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 10(1), pp. 6-55.

Unruh, D., Bullis, M., Todis, B., Waintrup,M. &  Atkins, T. (2007).  Programs and practices for special education students in alternative education settings:  Research to practice brief.external link  Improving Secondary Education and Transition Services through Research, 6(1).

Wheeler, M.E., Keller, T.E. & Dubois, D.L. (2010), Review of Three Recent Randomized Trials of School-Based Mentoring: Making Sense of Mixed Findings, Social Policy Report. Society for Research in Child Development, 24(3), pp. 3-21.

Woods, E.G.(2007).  Reducing the dropout rate.external link  School Improvement Research Study:  Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 17, pp. 1-17. 

Wright, R., John, L., Livingstone, A., Shepherd, N. & Duku, E. (2007). Effects of School-Based Interventions on Secondary School Students with High and Low Risks for Antisocial Behavior. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 22(1), pp. 32-49.

Websites that provide on-going reviews of small group behavioral interventions

  • Tools for promoting educational success and reducing delinquencyexternal link, (2007).  National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). Comprehensive 374 page document providing an in-depth overview of the issues, and a series of “tools for success” – best and promising practices being implemented with success throughout the country to prevent students – including those with disabilities – from being referred to the juvenile justice system due to their behavior in school.  Has a chapter on Targeted Interventions
Last Updated: June 3, 2014