Part 1: Identify Student Tiers

Part 1: Identify Student Tiers

This is part 1 of our Classworks mini web series: Spotlight on RTI, discussing all things RTI! We will look at best practices for screening, looking at data, getting interventions in place, as well as monitoring for tier movement. 

But before we get started, I wanted to share a chat that I had with Emily Burke from DeSoto County Schools in Mississippi. She is their MTSS Coach. I was able to catch up with her to talk about what has to be in place to have a successful RtI process. 





When an effective RtI plan is in place, teachers have the data necessary to determine the needs of each student. Sometimes getting all the parts and pieces to work together can be challenging!

As you just heard in my chat with Emily, a successful intervention program implements essential components of the RtI process. At each level, students are engaged in meaningful instruction, assessments are in place to measure growth and progress, and reporting provides formative annual growth data for informed decision-making. Teachers and academic support teams have the capacity to deliver the right instruction to make every student successful. 

Components include:

  • High quality, scientifically based classroom instruction. Tier 1 instruction is strong and supports teachers with teaching grade-level standards.

  • Ongoing student assessment. Universal Screeners and Progress Monitoring are used to provide data reflecting a student’s achievement level and effectiveness of curriculum. Initial assessment is used to identify a student’s need for intervention, while more frequent assessment is used to determine student instructional needs using multiple data points over time. 

  • Tiered Instruction. Assessment drives instructional assignments individualized for student intervention! Individualized learning allows every student to work on exactly what they need. 

  • Parent Involvement. Students access interventions from school and home. Student results are shared with parents through printed reports as well as through live student data. 


Let’s set the stage for a successful RTI program. How are students going to be chosen for tier placement? In an ideal world, there are several types of data that are considered. 
  • Universal Screener - You may have an assessment you are currently using such as NWEA Map Growth, Renaissance Star, ACT Aspire, or Scantron, for example. Student performance levels will help determine which tier a student is in so they may receive intervention as well as serve as the determining factor for the level of intervention. Classworks has a Universal Screener built right in so you can screen students and create intervention in one spot. 

  • High Stakes Tests - Some states automatically populate the RTI tiers based on scores from the previous year’s testing.

  • Teacher Recommendation - Teacher’s are on the front lines. No one knows students better. Teachers often make recommendations based on student performance in class. 

  • All of the above! -Multiple data points give the student problem solving team a look at student performance from multiple angles allowing for the team to make the most accurate data based decisions.  


Most students fall into Tier 1. Typically, 80% of students fall into Tier 1, 15% Tier 2, and 5% Tier 3. Tier 2 students are operating one grade level below. Tier 3 students are two or more grade levels below. 

While screening data is a great place to start, often it is important to look at the student with a big picture view. Using state high stakes test results, teacher recommendations, and other assessment points, you have multiple pieces of data to ensure instructional decisions are well informed. 

Now that we know which data is going to determine our tiers, the next step is to screen all students. In our next episode we talk about screening and how to analyze the data it provides. Talk to you then!


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