Tertiary Intervention: Using Progress Monitoring with Intensive Services

Article excerpt

In a Responsiveness-to-lntervention (RTI) model, successive levels of instructional supports based on scientifically sound practices are provided to students who experience academic difficulties. Although professionals have described specific components of the RTI multi-tiered system in different ways, authors of the RTI series in this issue describe a three-tiered system of instructional service to students who struggle academically, including the identification and provision of special education to students with specific learning disabilities (SLD). What is common across discussions of RTI as a prevention-intervention model is that increasingly more intensive instructional support is provided during each successive tier to students who are designated as at risk or when these students demonstrate academic unresponsiveness in previous tiers. The third tier, or tertiary intervention, is the main focus of this article. In this model, Tier 3 includes the provision of special education services.

Under lhe Individuals Willi Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, states may no longer require the use of the discrepancy approach (i.e.. between intellectual functioning and achievement) to identify individuals with SLD. The law permits states and districts to use data from student response to research-based interventions, such as those collected through an RTl approach, as an alternative route for identifying SLD. Although RTl practices have been in place in some locations for a number of years (see e.g., D. Fuchs, Mock, Morgan. & Young, 2003; Marston, Muyskens. Lau, & Canter. 2003; Tilly, 2006; Vaughn & Chard. 2006), no standard protocol has been mandated for directing the RTI process. Consequently, current models vary with respect to particular features of the model. What is common among approaches, however, is that progressmonitoring data are used for decisionmaking purposes. Data aid teachers in making judgments about the success of their instruction for individual students and to determine when additional support is needed, or conversely, when such intensive instruction no longer is needed because a student has responded well to intervention. For example, when progress-monitoring data illustrate good response to secondary prevention services (i.e., Tier 2), the student may be moved back to primary prevention (i.e., Tier 1). Progress monitoring continues, and, if the student experiences a serious lag in academic achievement, Tier 2 intervening support may be necessary again. In this way, progress-monitoring data support flexibility within the RTI model lor moving a student back and forth through tiers and become central to RTI practices.

The following section briefly reviews typical practices in Tiers 1 and 2 and describes how tertiary instruction (i.e., Tier 3) differs from previous tiers. In this model, intensive tertiary intervention includes the provision of special education. Next, the RTI process is described in ihe context of a classroom scenario with a hypothetical student who struggles significantly with reading. This case study illustrates how progress-monitoring data are used to move this student through the RTI tiers and subsequently to aid in identifying her as having an SLD. Within tertiary intervention, progress-monitoring data are used in a variety of ways: to develop an individualized education program (IEP) goal, to iudge the adequacy of student progress and the success of the instructional program, to determine when instructional changes appear necessary, and to formulate instructional modifications to better meet individual needs. Moreover, when data indicate substantial improvement in level and rale of progress, students may be moved out of tertiary intervention into a less intensive instructional tier. Finally, several remaining questions regarding RTI practices and challenges for implementation arc discussed.

Overview of Tiers

General Description of Tier 1

Universal screening may be a part of Tier 1 or is completed routinely prior to the implementation of Tier 1 interventions. …