Response to Intervention is a multi-tiered method of instruction and academic support for struggling learners. At the elementary level, RtI typically revolves around reading intervention, and or math intervention, although it is sometimes applied to behavioral intervention as well. Prior to prescribing the appropriate level of intervention, all students receive high-quality, research-based instruction, followed by an assessment phase. The assessment phase is used to identify any students in need of targeted intervention. RtI includes three tiers of instruction and subsequent intervention at increasing levels of intensity depending on student need.


Tier 1 involves a whole-class approach to instruction whereby all students receive high-quality, research-based instruction. This includes direct teacher-led instruction, supplemented using any available tools and resources with a proven track record of effectiveness e.g. interactive whiteboard lessons, and or overhead projection, explicit and systematic phonics instruction, high-quality educational software, printable worksheets, print and or digital leveled reader books etc.


Upon conclusion of the initial tier of instruction, assessments are administered to measure student progress, and identify those students in need of reading intervention. The duration of Tier I will vary, however it should typically be no longer than 8 weeks in length. Students who do not demonstrate proficiency in the benchmark skill areas will be then moved on to Tier 2. Students at the Tier 2 level are considered at-risk.


Tier 2 involves more targeted small group instruction in the areas where students require support. In the early grades this is usually in the areas of reading and math. Reading intervention is especially vital, as a students’ reading ability in early years will have a significant impact on learning throughout their school life and beyond. Tier 2 can last for a longer period than Tier 1 but should usually not exceed a single school term. It is beneficial to correlate intervention tiers to grading periods. This allows for assessment data to be used to measure student progress and RtI reading program effectiveness.


Students that do not respond to the second tier of intervention, or do not make adequate progress are then moved on to the third and final step in the Response to Intervention process. Tier 3 is a one-on-one targeted intervention approach. At this stage the instruction and intervention is individualized to meet the specific learning needs of each student. Students at the Tier 3 level are considered high-risk.


How Can Essential Skills Help?


Essential Skills interactive learning programs are an ideal supplement to all levels of your Response to Intervention program. Our Integrated Assessment feature individualizes instruction for each student to target missing skills. Based on pretest results, each student receives a custom learning program, tailored to their specific needs. At the Tier 1 and 2 levels, Essential Skills elementary reading intervention programs can be used to supplement instruction by allowing students to work and learn independently at their own level and pace within a class or group setting. The programs can also be used with an interactive whiteboard to allow for teacher-led lessons.


At the Tier 3 stage, our reading intervention programs for high-risk elementary and older remedial students provide explicit and systematic instruction in the fundamentals of phonemic awareness, phonics, sight word recognition, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Built-in pretests provide students with an individualized learning program, specifically tailored to their needs. This ensures students receive intensive intervention in the areas where it is most needed. Teachers can also create custom assignments for individual students, allowing them to target specific skills and areas in need of additional reinforcement.


The ability for students to work independently at their own level and pace, combined with the high degree of individualization, makes Essential Skills a perfect choice for your reading intervention program.


What Educators Are Saying about our Reading Intervention Programs

“These programs are very effective for RTI Tier 2 and 3 students, providing lots of extra practice and repetition in the basic skills. All my students love these programs and work independently at their own level and pace. Essential Skills is like having another teacher in the room to provide individualized instruction. The reports are easy to access, and you can see at a glance how students are progressing through the skills.”

~ Susan Delaney, Resource Teacher, Sidney Lanier Elementary


“We are one of the pilot schools for our state’s RTI implementation. We received recognition at the state level for the use of Essential Skills software as a highly successful intervention strategy with our English language learners. I like the programs because they are not “gamey”, and they have a clear skill focus that guarantees the children learn the skills presented. The programs are a valuable and essential component of our school RTI.”

~ Donna Stokes, Title I Reading Specialist, Tonalea Elementary


“Ever since we started using the programs for reading intervention with our first and second grade students, we have seen that our third and fourth grade students are much more ready to learn.”

~ Brenda Hoerner, Principal & Title I Reading Teacher, Canyon Elementary


“We have been using Essential Skills programs daily for several years. We like being able to focus on specific skills that are aligned to our curriculum. The programs are great for supporting RTI Tier 2, as well as supplementing and reinforcing regular classroom instruction. Essential Skills programs are an important component of our language arts curriculum.”

~ Linda Kessler, Reading & Math Specialist, Washington Elementary