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Choosing the Right Student Intervention

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November 14th, 2018

Presented by Kate Pechacek – Transcription Below


Welcome to the “Illuminate Whiteboard Series.” I’m Kate Pechacek. I’m a customer success manager for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. I’m here today to talk to you a little bit about choosing the right intervention for your students. We’ve all heard the term “targeted intervention.” Targeted means it’s targeted at either the root cause or the skill that the student’s missing. So here are a few tips and tricks to help you target your intervention, and I’m really going to purposefully address Tier 1 interventions, as well as Tier 2 or 3. Sometimes we focus too much on Tier 2 and 3, where Tier 1 is where the power is.

Assessment and Data

So assessment and data. What assessment are you using when you’re determining interventions for your students? Are you using standards-based assessments? If that’s what we’re focusing on, we wanna make sure that our assessments are standards-based. We also wanna make sure that we’re using data that’s focused on something broader than just academics. Typically, the big three are academics, behavior, and attendance. You wanna make sure that you’re including those types of data when you’re deciding which intervention to choose for a student.

Root Cause Analysis

The second point here is probably the most important – doing some root cause analysis. I think this piece is completely missing sometimes from school districts. We know a student isn’t learning because we’ve given a universal screener. So we put them right into an intervention and start teaching them math. They didn’t know math, so we give them a math intervention. Root cause analysis is really about what’s causing the issue for the student. It’s really typical for school districts to focus on students when they’re talking about root cause.


But there’s a little acronym called ICEL, I-C-E-L – instruction, curriculum, environment, and student. You need to be looking at your instruction, which is harder for teachers to look at than looking at student learning. Curriculum, the environment the students are learning in, and then you look at the student after you’ve ruled out some of those other things. Letting students teach you. Within Tier 1, letting students see their own data and having them talk to you about what misconceptions they had relative to their data is really important. There’s no one better in a school district than your students to tell you what is and isn’t working with your teaching.

Tier 2 or Tier 3

The other thing you need to remember is that when you have students in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention, first of all, they aren’t Tier 2 or Tier 3 students. They’re students in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention. Gathering data from the interventionist and the students about what didn’t work within Tier 1 is super-important for strengthening Tier 1. And we all know you can’t intervene your way out of great Tier 1 instruction. You wanna make sure that you’re always focusing on that double-loop learning, learning from Tier 2 and Tier 3 to strengthen.

Comfort-Stretch Balance

The next point here is you need within your classroom to be providing a comfort-stretch balance for your students. If a teacher teaches in one way all the time, there’s a group of students you’re jiving with that are learning well that, truthfully, aren’t stretched enough, and then there’s another group of students constantly stretching to meet the teacher. Eventually, by the way, they give up. By the time high school comes, they’ve stretched enough, they’re done. So really, the only way to address that issue is for the teacher to vary their instruction so that every student’s in comfort and stretch.


And the last point here, it’s not just about the right intervention. It’s also about the right timing. Don’t be a slave to your scope and sequence. Because you have it there and you think, “On this day, we have to have this standard covered,” if students aren’t learning, there’s no reason to stick with the scope and sequence. Remember they’re people first. Teaching your students in a way that addresses their actual root cause and the issues behind why they aren’t learning is really important and keeping timing relative. Student learning’s the constant. Timing is the variable.

Thank you. Have a great day. Thanks for joining us.

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