Types Of Classroom Interventions

By: Matthew Lynch

What Is Intervention in Education?

In general terms, classroom intervention is a set of steps a teacher takes to help a child improve in their area of need by removing educational barriers. There are four key components of classroom intervention:

  • Proactive: Deals with areas of need before they become a larger obstacle to education.
  • Intentional: Specifically addresses an observed weakness.
  • Formal: Uses targeted methods for addressing specific needs and tracks progress.
  • Flexible: Adjusts methods based upon the needs of the student.

In the classroom, teachers may observe and identify problems with a student’s behavior or academic performance. Sometimes, the same child needs improvement in both areas. Although often connected, these issues are addressed using different types of interventions.

Behavior interventions address a child’s problem behavior at school, like disrupting class, refusing to do homework, unresponsiveness, inappropriate language and aggression. When using this method, teachers work to determine the driving force behind a student’s wrong action. They may use a functional behavior assessment to aid in this discovery process. Once the motivating factor behind the behavior is identified, teachers can construct an effective behavior intervention plan for teaching more appropriate behaviors while meeting the child’s needs.

Instructional interventions, also called academic interventions, deal with a student’s academic problem areas, like reading, math or another subject. For example, when a child struggles with reading skills, educators will employ reading intervention strategies. This type of intervention involves more detailed tracking of progress and frequent adjustments to reach a student’s optimal academic proficiency. The instructional intervention definition also includes Response to Intervention, which involves three tiers of intervention that become increasingly intense while attempting to address the child’s core academic need.

Special Education and Classroom Intervention

Although classroom interventions are frequently used in special education, they’re not a form of special education. Interventions help classroom teachers identify the early signs of learning disabilities, but that is not their only or primary use. Today, instructional and behavioral interventions are used to identify and remove obstacles that hinder a student’s academic progress.

Response to Intervention: 3 Tiers of Instruction

A popular form of instructional intervention is Response to Intervention (RTI)which uses a series of increasingly intense interventions until the student’s area of academic need is met or special education is recommended. Here is a breakdown of this three-tier system of support:

Tier 1

This level involves whole-class screening or universal screening that uses the school’s research-based curriculum. The curriculum includes periodic student assessments and behavioral screenings to chart progress. Once a student is identified as “at risk,” they are given a specific amount of time to make satisfactory progress. If the student doesn’t adequately improve, then they move to Tier 2 of RTI.

Tier 2

This level involves targeted instruction related to a specific skill. These students have lessons in smaller, group settings and receive more attention and guidance as they learn and practice using a different method. The instruction is more frequent and lengthier than Tier 1. Students still receive their Tier 1 classroom instruction but break off into small group sessions several times a week for Tier 2, usually during electives. Progress is monitored, and if there’s enough improvement, the student may return to Tier 1 instruction. If the student doesn’t improve and their performance devolves, they will move to Tier 3.

Tier 3

At this level, the student typically receives daily one-on-one customized instruction, , but they may also work in very small groups. Some schools will involve an intervention specialist to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the student and get help with more personalized curriculum, including how to more effectively tailor instruction to this student’s needs. The student will continue to spend most of their day in a general instruction classroom. If they don’t make satisfactory progress, they may be recommended for further evaluation and special education services. Otherwise, they may move back to Tier 2 or Tier 1 instruction.

Benefits of Classroom Intervention

The goal of RTI is to restore students to the general education classroom. When schools and teachers implement and follow effective Response to Intervention strategies, a larger number of students meet grade-level expectations at the Tier 1 level.

RTI also conserves special education resources. Because many students who perform below grade level do not have learning disabilities, classroom intervention strategies frequently reduce the number of students who are referred for special education evaluations. When classroom interventions address both behavioral and academic issues and restore students to proficiency in the general classroom, schools can focus their special education resources on those children who genuinely need them.

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