In a prior post we shared a process for establishing a pyramid of interventions. This process allows schools to determine, define and organize the various strategies, accommodations and interventions currently taking place in the school to honour and account for the expertise that exists in the building. A pyramid of intervention is not a static creation. It is intended to be reviewed and revised on a regular basis to ensure new ideas and practice is reflected in the pyramid.
As schools begin to refine and revise their pyramids of intervention, there is a need to identify and differentiate between interventions, strategies and accommodations.
Interventions are meant to effectively bridge a gap for students, provided in addition to regular classroom instruction. Three things identify an intervention and differentiate interventions from strategies and accommodations:
- Provide targeted assistance based on assessment – unless the intervention is targeted and put in place based on assessment data, it is unlikely to effectively address the student concern for which it is intended.
- Delivered by a highly qualified class teacher or another specialist – as interventions are established at tiers two, three and four, their increasing intensity requires higher levels of training and expertise. For an intervention to be truly impactful, it must be delivered by an individual trained to provide that intervention with maximum fidelity.
- Provides additional instruction for an individual or small group – the higher we go on the tiers of the pyramid, the smaller the intervention groups should become. Maximum gain for the majority of interventions will happen for groups of students with a size of eight or less.
Access a template for evaluating if proposed interventions meet the three criteria for an intervention – Examining Intervention Strategies – Template
Whereas interventions will be purposefully articulated at tiers two, three and four, strategies should be used primarily at tier two – the classroom level. Strategies do not need to meet the criteria established for interventions, but should focus as “what could work” for students. An organization of differentiated strategies, collected from teachers and shared in the pyramid of interventions, can become a valuable resource during a collaborative team meeting, when investigating all that could be done at the lower tiers of support. A myriad of effective, proven strategies to support students at the tier two level ensures the greatest point of impact for students is found in the classroom and in the hands of the classroom teacher.
In its most simplistic definition, we put accommodations in place to help students cope with any gaps that may exist limiting their success. For a student who has difficulty reading text, a text to speech accommodation may be beneficial. For a child who struggles with attention, fidgets may be effective to reduce distractions. Accommodations address gaps, but may do little to close those gaps. Although they are a valuable part of the overall picture of support for students, they must be balanced with interventions and strategies that strive to reduce achievement gaps. Like strategies, we believe accommodations must be organized and articulated primarily at the tier two classroom level.
A template has been developed to help organize and record strategies, accommodations and interventions in place for students – Student Intervention Record – Template
Further discussion related to interventions, strategies and accommodations can be found in chapter five of our book Envisioning a Collaborative Response Model. Click on the book link to find out how to order.
We wish you all the best as you strive to support the needs of your students!