The Transition Back to the Classroom – How Can You Support Your Students Using Tiered Intervention?

The Covid-19 pandemic has of course been challenging for educators and students. Despite the seemingly continual threat of new variants and uncertainty, the vaccine rollout and social distancing measures have enabled more and more schools to transition back into a classroom setting. This is being approached in different ways, from going back to the classroom full-time to a phased return, with a more blended approach.

As the shift to face-to-face learning commences, educators are faced with the challenge of ensuring that timely responses to intervention are being offered to those students who are at some level of risk for not meeting academic expectations. Generally, within a school setting, there will be set protocols and processes in place when dealing with tiered intervention practices within the classroom. However, with the uncertain times, the pandemic has presented to us, schools have been forced to send students home for distance or hybrid learning.

As many schools across the world are now beginning to welcome students back into the physical classroom, we ask how can teachers ensure their tiered intervention approaches are remaining effective across each status of learning? And what challenges are presented to educators regarding Response to Intervention (RTI) when transitioning from distance learning back to face-to-face learning?

At the foundation of any RTI model is the use of tiered instructional processes. Although the assessment components of RTI (universal screening and progress monitoring) are essential elements of implementation, it is the instruction that occurs as a function of the outcomes of the assessments that truly drives the changes that educators hope to see in students who are identified as being at some level of risk for not meeting academic expectations. Tiered instruction represents a model in which the instruction delivered to students varies, which are related to the nature and severity of the student’s difficulties.

Distance and Hybrid Learning

Educators teaching students through distance or hybrid learning will be confronted with several challenges.

  • Ensuring that the delivery of the Tier 1 core material is being presented sufficiently to all students.
  • Making sure that students who are not fully responsive to the Tier 1 content delivery receive proper instruction and time spent reviewing areas where they do not meet the expectations.
  • Establishing time to meet 1:1 with Tier 3 students and ensure that their special support staff are also joining the RTI to meet these students’ needs.
  • Having adequate standard-aligned assessments to monitor the progress of students, particularly those in Tier 2/3.

Face-to-face Classroom Learning

Educators teaching students who have just returned to school from distance or hybrid learning face the following challenges.

  • Having adequate standard-aligned assessments to monitor the progress of students, especially those in Tier 2/3.
  • Delivering adequate standard-aligned benchmark assessments to gauge the student content retention levels throughout the distance or hybrid learning period.  

Another challenge to consider, which is always applicable to tiered intervention in any setting is the overarching time pressure educators have, in order to give their full attention to all students in equal measure.

What Intervention Solutions Are There?

How can tiered intervention practices and RTI processes support teachers throughout this transition, and in general?

Having a robust process in place for supporting students within different Tier levels to ensure the safeguarding of student learning and academic progress is critical, now more than ever. By implementing a secure plan for targeting students who are at risk of not meeting academic expectations, educators can ensure that their students are receiving a high degree of instruction in class all together, but also that their Tier 2 and 3 students are receiving the small group, 1:1 support and differentiated instruction that they need.

Assessments and progress monitoring will be essential during this time of transition to enable educators to easily pinpoint skills that have not been mastered by students and place them in the appropriate tier levels as needed. In turn, they can monitor the upper Tier level students regularly to bring them back down to Tier 1 when it is appropriate.

This article, published in the Children and Youth Services Review, recommends that low-stakes academic assignments should be taken during the initial re-entry period as students re-adjust to life post-covid. Low-stakes academic assignments are often frequent and formative in nature. Examples of low-stake assignments include short quizzes, reading journals, and in-class problem-solving.


Navigating the tiered intervention process can be time-intensive. At Edmentum International, our integrated digital curriculum and assessment solutions cater to the many teaching and learning needs in and out of the classroom. We ensure that every student can experience growth and a truly personalized learning experience. Are you interested in learning more about our digital curriculum and high-quality assessments? See what Edmentum International can provide for your school.


This blog was written by Meghan Edwards, Customer Service & Implementation Specialist, who joined Edmentum International in 2020. As a former teacher for several years, Meghan brings a wealth of educational knowledge and experience to her role.

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