How can schools help students with severe and persistent learning or behavioral needs?
Intensive intervention (both academic interventions and behavior interventions) is intended to help these students. The Center's approach to intensive interventions is data-based individualization (DBI). DBI use data to individualize instruction, increase engagement, and provide opportunities to practice new skills. Within multi-tiered systems of supports such as RTI or PBIS, this is often considered Tier III. Learn more about the DBI Framework, meet Center Staff, visit the Tools Charts to find evidence-based progress monitoring tools or interventions, and view the DBI Training Series to find professional development materials to support the Implementation of DBI in schools and districts.

Learn the Language of Intensive Intervention

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  • Data-Based Individualization (DBI)

    Data-based individualization (DBI) is a systematic approach to intensive intervention. It is an iterative, multi-step process that involves (1) collecting frequent (usually weekly) progress monitoring data; (2) analyzing those data according to standard decision rules to determine when an increase to the student’s goal is needed (in the case of strong progress) or a revision to the intervention program is needed (in the case of inadequate progress; (3) introducing a change to the intervention program when progress is inadequate, which is designed to improve the rate of learning; and (4) continuing to use Steps 1–3 on an ongoing basis to develop an individualized program that meets the student’s needs. For additional information, view NCII’sDBI Framework andDBI Training Series.

  • Intensive Intervention

    Intensive intervention is designed to address severe and persistent learning or behavior difficulties. It also is used for students who have proven nonresponsive to Tier 2 or secondary intervention. Intensive interventions are characterized by increased intensity (e.g., smaller group, increased time) and individualization of academic or behavioral intervention. Intensive intervention is sometimes synonymous with Tier 3 or interventions delivered within the tertiary prevention level.

  • Intervention Adaptation

    Teachers use data (including progress monitoring and diagnostic data) to revise, intensify, or individualize an intervention to target a student’s specific needs. Strategies for intensifying an intervention may occur along several dimensions—including but not limited to changes to group size, frequency, or duration; or changes to the instructional principles incorporated within the intervention or in providing feedback.

  • Intervention Platform

    An intervention platform is a validated, evidence-based program or instructional practice that provides targeted instruction in a specific skill or set of skills (e.g., phonemic awareness, vocabulary, math problem solving). The intervention platform also may be known as a standard intervention protocol; in some schools, this approach may be considered a Tier 2 or an intervention occurring at the secondary prevention level. Within a data-based individualization process, the intervention platform serves as the departure point for intensification. For additional information, view NCII’s Academic Intervention Tools Chart of the DBI Training Series Module 4.

  • Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

    Multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) is a prevention framework that organizes building-level resources to address each individual student’s academic and/or behavioral needs within intervention tiers that vary in intensity. MTSS allows for the early identification of learning and behavioral challenges and timely intervention for students who are at risk for poor learning outcomes. It also may be called a multi-level prevention system. The increasingly intense tiers (e.g., Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3), sometimes referred to as levels of prevention (i.e.,, primary, secondary, intensive prevention levels), represent a continuum of supports. Response to intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are examples of MTSS.

  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

    Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a tiered behavior support framework for enhancing the adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based interventions to achieve behaviorally important outcomes for all students. PBIS provides a decision-making framework that guides the selection, integration, and implementation of preventive and instructive behavioral practices. For additional information, view theTechnical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports website.

  • Progress Monitoring

    Progress monitoring is used to assess a student’s performance, to quantify his or her rate of improvement or responsiveness to intervention, to adjust the student’s instructional program to make it more effective and suited to the student’s needs, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. For additional information, view NCII’s Academic Progress Monitoring  and Behavioral Progress Monitoring Tools Chart.

  • Response to Intervention (RTI)

    Response to intervention (RTI) integrates assessment and intervention within a multi‐level prevention system to maximize student achievement and reduce behavior problems. With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence‐based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities or other disabilities. For more information, view the Center on Response to Intervention at American Institutes for Research website.

  • Tier 3

    Within a three-tiered multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework, Tier 3 typically represents the most intensive level of support. It is designed to address the needs of students with severe and persistent learning and/or behavioral challenges. For an MTSS that has more than three tiers, intensive intervention represents the most intensive tier or level of the MTSS. Data-based individualization is an approach that may be used within Tier 3 or the most intensive tier of MTSS. Tier 3 also may be known as intensive intervention or tertiary prevention level.

Ask the Expert

Why is it important to ensure students with disabilities are part of multi-tiered frameworks?
Maryl Randal

Watch and Listen as, Maryl Randel, a doctoral candidate in Special Education at Michigan State University & NCII Coach for the Swartz Creek School District, addresses the importance of ensuring that students with disabilities have access to supports across the tiers of a tiered frameworks, especially intensive intervention.

College & Career Ready Standards and Tiered Instruction

NCII has released a series of documents intended to illustrate how college and career ready standards can be addressed across levels of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) or response to intervention (RTI) framework  in reading and mathematics. They provide examples of how to apply standards relevant instruction across core instruction, secondary intervention, intensive intervention and for to support students with significant cognitive challenges. View the full series