Do all students need a Tier II behavior intervention before going to Tier III?

Question: Do all students need a Tier II behavior intervention before going to Tier III?

Answer: Ok, that is a commonly asked question about whether or not kids need to come up through the interventions in order to get a Tier III intervention. And the answer is, not necessarily. There are students who show up at a school, for example, on return from a stint at a detention center or a juvenile justice facility, a residential treatment center, or some other segregated, restrictive setting and it makes the best sense to bring them back in using the Tier III system plan. In the old days, before there were systems of support, there were some, in my opinion, erroneous assumptions that kids needed to be brought back in through restrictive settings. So if you came in through juvenile justice, you had to go to a self-contained classroom. Now that we have tiered intervention systems, it helps make the reality of reintegration truly reintegration. So that’s one example of students who would not need to go through a Tier I intervention, a Tier II intervention, and then fail in order to have access to a Tier III intervention. In addition, there are kids who develop pretty significant issues, experience a trauma, or just displaying pretty significant behavior problem where it wouldn’t be likely to be successful to start them in a Tier II intervention, and those students should have access immediately to a highly individualized support plan in the context of their general education setting. There are some caveats that I would like to make about that. Tier III interventions are not done in isolation. They are done as part of a system of interventions. So what we see with a lot of kids is their Tier III intervention plans begin with a highly individualized team; a team of people who are connected to the student, who the student has good relationships with, and people who have knowledge about behavior support. And this highly individualized team talks about how the student can have their needs met and be successful inside the school, and we always look to the Tier II and Tier I behavior supports and figure out how we can modify them within the context of a highly individualized plan. So in that regard, Tier III interventions are filled with Tier II and Tier I interventions. But for some kids, we may build that highly individualized team, pick one or two behaviors to zero in on with a function-based behavior plan or build a person-centered wrap-around plan around some of their larger life domain needs, in terms of community support, mental health support, physical support, and then we layer in the lower tiered interventions. The other way that students gain access to a Tier III plan in a well-developed multi-tiered system of support is that they may have access to Tier II intervention, but it quickly becomes apparent that they need to have it kicked up a notch. The big idea here is we do not expect nor want students to experience any significant level of intervention failure. So we want to have data review and move students quickly to a higher tier.  So for example, there’s no set rule somebody has to be on ‘check-in-check-out’ for three weeks before they’re allowed to have access to Tier III. If it’s evident after two days that they are not showing up for ‘check-in-check-out,’ they are tantruming, or they are ripping up their point card, we can try to individualize it within two days. And we can begin the process of building a Tier III plan if we notice they are having difficulties across settings with different people. So we can move rapidly. We do not want a one-size-fits-all rule for access. On the other hand, we have found schools who do not have well developed Tier II systems think too many kids need Tier III and move them in to individualized supports too fast. So there’s a medium ground we need to find here and we need to constantly be meeting in teams and assessing the entire context of the intervention system. For example, is Johnny not having success with his social skills instructional group because the reinforcement system tied to his participation or his achieving new skills, is not meaningful to him? Maybe we can just tweak the reinforcement system and we don’t need to kick him all the way up to a Tier III intervention. Whereas another student may not acquire the new skills in a small group setting and may need more function-based interventions that are specifically designed for him. So we always need to be monitoring, checking, and changing and the key is what’s the likelihood of success and what’s the likelihood of the student experiencing failure which will lead to making everybody’s job harder, if you will. So the context of Tier III intervention within a multi-tiered system means that we need to be fluid in our thinking, we need to look at data regularly, and we need to not apply one-size-fits-all rules. Some kids need an immediate Tier III structure around them, a highly individualized team that meets regularly that’s only about that student. And we need to install the lowered interventions in the context of that. Other kids, and this is my last example, other kids come in to a system we know right away, they’re going to need a person center, let’s use the example, person-centered-wrap-around plan, where we need to engage their family, build a team, look at their mental health needs, their community needs, their home functioning needs, but while we’re in the process of building that team, we can make Tier I and Tier II as strong as possible and make sure that that’s student is experiencing some level of success while we’re building the Tier III structure around them. We see that frequently and successfully, in schools with well-developed tiered systems. If all the school is trying to do is “Tier III only” they don’t have the capacity to layer up the successes that end up in a successful Tier III plan because they don’t have the bottom tiers. So when we’re building a wrap-plan, we always tell our Tier III facilitators when they leave the training, first thing you can do, before you even start engaging the family, is tomorrow, when you leave this training, you go back to your school, figure out how you can make Tier I and ‘check-in-check-out’ successful for this kid while you’re building the Tier III plan. Individualize it somewhat, talk to the teachers about making sure he gets a certain minimum level of reinforces in the Tier I system, modify his ‘check-in-check-out’ to a person he selects and has a relationship with, add check-in times for him, all while you’re building the Tier III plan. So the main idea is do not expect or wait for a student to experience failure until you move in to the higher Tier III intervention. 

Developed By: 
National Center on Intensive Intervention