Establishing a Tiered System of Supports

Session notes from “Establishing a Tiered System of Supports,” presented by Lance McClard.

What were the speaker’s main messages?

Marsilio: The main message for this session was that an effective response to intervention cannot exist without the tenets of a PLC.

Rehbein: Creating a tiered process with a team and establishing underlying needs.

What was the speaker’s best quote?

Rehbein: “To make this point as explicit as possible, being a PLC is an essential prerequisite to successful RTI implementation.” -Kramer, Sonju, Mattos, Buffum

What were the top ideas from the session?


  • Students should not be taken out of good first instruction to go to interventions (Tier 2 and Tier 3) and we need ensure Tier 1 instruction is our first, best instruction.
  • At the end of the day, we need to build a foundation with a focus on learning, collaborative culture, and results.
  • We need to explain the why of what we are doing and continually train staff on it.
  • We need to be explicit in identifying essential skills/standards so we know what students must know. This will also help us quickly identify when they aren’t learning the essential skills.
  • We need to shift from concentrating on teaching to concentrating on learning.
  • We need to monitor data and be flexible in what we are doing.


  • Why PLC? Teachers’ engagements in a PLC play a significant role in the self-efficacy in multicultural classrooms, increased teacher collaboration, improved teaching and increased consistency, and increased student scores on state/local assessments.
  • Common errors in PLC process: discuss teaching rather than learning, essential standards aren’t identified, actions don’t align with words, surface conversations/niceties, absence of trust, and lack of innovation.
  • Core characteristics of response to instruction and intervention: standards aligned to instruction, universal screening, shared ownership, data-based decision making, tiered instruction and service delivery system, and parental engagement.
  • Build a foundation: focus on learning, collaborative culture, and results-oriented.
  • Why are we here?: mission, vision, and values.
  • Universal skills for learning: decode and comprehend grade-level text, write effectively, apply number sense, comprehend the English language (or school’s primary language), consistently demonstrate social and academic behaviors, and overcome complications due to health or home.

What is one strategy that you will implement immediately?

Marsilio: One strategy I would like to implement immediately is to utilize the Intervention Team Questions that ask explicit questions about the learning and the barriers to success so everyone walks out of the room understanding the data collected on students and the actionable next steps for the team.

Rehbein: Revise and discontinue practices that do not increase student learning.

What is one strategy that will help you with instructional leadership?

Marsilio: A strategy that will help me with instructional leadership is to be explicit in my language about teaching versus learning. In PLC meetings, I want ensure that I am modeling the talk/language I want my teachers to use so that we all are on the same page about all of our students.

Rehbein: Sit in on PLC meetings. Ask the questions from a stance of curiosity to examine instructional practices and their impact on student learning.

What is one idea that you want to learn more about?

Marsilio: Building the schedule around learning not lunch and specials.

What are three resources you will check out?

Marsilio: Taking Action: A Handbook for RTI at Work by Austin Buffum


I can’t wait to tell my teachers about this idea:

Marsilio: The list of teaching-assessing cycle guiding questions! This will help give structure to what they are already doing in their meetings so they don’t miss pieces at the beginning of the unit and will help keep the focus on learning.

Rehbein: Reminder to provide all students access to essential grade-level curriculum and effective initial teaching: Tier 1 comes first. Ensure the guaranteed and viable curriculum.

What are some relevant or surprising stats you learned?

Marsilio: This session had anecdotal information, but it was a good reminder that focused, good first instruction has to be a solid foundation to any intervention program. Everyone needs to clearly know the standards, be able to give productive feedback in a timely manner, assess learning, reteach, and continue to check for learning.

Notes by Lyn Marsilio, principal, Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia, and Tiffany Rehbein, principal, Bain Elementary School in Cheyenne, Wyoming.