What are intensive interventions and why are they important?

Question: What are intensive interventions and why are they important?

Chris Lemons: Intensive interventions are interventions that require professionals to make decisions using data to improve instruction for individual students that have not responded to standard protocol at Tier 1 and Tier 2. So, in a sense, you could think of intensive interventions as a process instead of a product. So what we’re talking about when we’re talking about intensive interventions are having teachers start with the standard protocol, some type of, say, reading program, implementing that program, but collecting data, and trying to determine what parts work and which parts do not work.

And then, using their professional judgment, the student’s response, and data to determine what changes need to be made to that instruction to make it effective for their student. So, in a sense, intensive interventions could be a variety of different things. There are a variety of ways that you might intensify instruction: by decreasing group size, increasing the amount of time that a student spends in a certain intervention, or focusing on different academic skills, maybe some academic precursors may be a way to intensify the intervention. So, in a sense, there are a variety of ways of doing it, but what we’re talking about when we’re talking about intensive interventions: it’s more of a process than something that comes out of a box.

And why are those things important? In a sense, over the last decade, we’ve done a pretty good job in schools of improving Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction, so we often, particularly in elementary in the area of reading we have a lot of quality Tier 2 standard protocol interventions that are effective for many students and over this period of time we have reduced the number of students who continue to need additional, more intensive instruction, however there still remain a portion of students, particularly those with disabilities, that are non-responsive to quality Tier 1 and Tier 2 standard protocol instruction. So it’s this group of students that are in most need of intensive intervention or something more individualized, matching their needs that is more responsive that a professional is using data to make instruction and the reason they need these is that using current standard protocol, the students are not benefitting, they are not meeting their academic goals. And unless we can train professionals to use data and kind of go through a problem solving process of improving current standard protocol interventions to match the individual needs of individuals with disabilities, then instruction will never be effective for that group of students. So if we’re truly going to meet the needs of all of the students in the school, we’re going to need something more intensive and additional for that group of students.

Developed By: 
National Center on Intensive Intervention