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Behavior Management RTI: 4 Steps to Tier II Intervention Success

Kathryn Phillips


Behavior RTI: 4 Steps to Tier II Intervention SuccessLast month we talked about setting up an RTI format for student behavior management.  In case you’ve forgotten, Tier I is all about preventing misbehaviors from occurring by establishing and teaching a schoolwide system of expectations, consequences and providing LOTS and LOTS of positives to acknowledge appropriate behavior

If these elements of Tier I have been solidly established, taught throughout the school, and all staff members use the plan with consistency, 80-85% of misbehaviors that typically occur in schools will be prevented. The other 15% of students will be deemed as needing Tier II and Tier III interventions.

This article take you through a 4-step process to administer Tier II interventions, as well as supplying plenty of ideas and resources for addressing specific behavior problems for Tier II students or "frequent flyers."

Step 1: Identify Your Tier II Students

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As with any RTI model (academic and behavioral), there is a subgroup that includes 15% of students who will need more targeted instruction on a specific set of skills.  This is true whether academically or behaviorally.

Behaviorally, these students may be those who have repeated office referrals or behavioral issues in the classroom, and by referring to documentation, a teacher is able to present this student’s needs to an intervention or RTI team.

Step 2: Use Data to Make the Transition to Tier II

It is important for teachers to provide objective data to the RTI team rather than subjective anecdotal narratives (“student is an annoying little pill” is far less objective than “student is off-task 50% of the time, disrupts others and fails to complete assigned work”). The more objective and specific the information, the greater likelihood of developing appropriate interventions. 

For easy ideas in documenting classroom behavioral data, you may want to refer to a recent article on TeachHUB  How to Use RTI for Behavior Management. In that article the resources and ideas for utilizing a behavior documentation log to examine behaviors were provided.  

Step 3: Match the Intervention to the Deficit

Once students have been identified as needing targeted Tier II interventions, it is important to match the behavioral need to the appropriate intervention. 

Many times, schools lump all students with behavioral issues into the same targeted intervention such as a “social skills group.”  This is a little like putting all students who are academically deficient into a “phonics study group.”  We will get more success and better data with which to make future decisions if we provide the skill training in the area of deficit.  Behaviorally speaking, some of these areas may include; anger management, work-related skills, ADHD support, friendship making, and skills to prevent truancies and tardies.

While this concept of matching interventions to need makes perfect sense, it can be a bit unsettling (read that “freaks me out”) to school folks who have always used the same-o same-o interventions for anyone who has any type of behavior problem. That fear usually arises from a lack of knowledge about simple ways to match interventions to specific behaviors. No worries, there are a number of resources that will do this for you. 

Try these practical resources for matching interventions to behaviors:

Practical Strategies that Really Work for Disruptive, Difficult and Defiant Students  (Proed)

Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom (Future Horizons)

Practical Ideas that Really Work for Students with ADHD (Proed)

The Tough Kid Tool Box (University of Utah)

The Pre-Referral Intervention Manual (Hawthorne Press)

The Behavior Intervention Manual for Teachers (Hawthorne Press)

The Alert Program (Therapy Works)

Successful Strategies for Working with Challenging Elementary Students (Total Behavior Management

 These websites also have loads of easy interventions specific to issues demonstrated by Tier II students:

Check out this complete listing of intervention resources.

While these resources are WONDERFUL for individual Tier II interventions, what is also needed to educate behaviorally challenged students are good programs with a  structure for teaching new concepts in social skills.  Remember that RTI requires using good evidence-based programs that have been research and indicated to be viable by “The Powers That Be”  (also known as The US Department of Education).

Step 4: Establish a Successful Tier II Intervention Format

Tier II  small groups, which typically involve six to eight students, should run 8-12 weeks for 40 minutes a week and should have a data collection system imbedded in the program.  The Check In Check / Out Program available through has a nice reporting form available with it. Counselors, special assignment teachers, or specialists often run the groups.  At secondary level the groups may meet during an advisory period, at elementary school many meet during lunchtime.

While we all have had the “Frequent Flyer”, and be assured that they are not going away. The good news is that by utilizing behavioral RTI, we can systematically solve issues by matching the right intervention to the behavioral need.

What Tier II Intervention behavior management strategies work best for your students? Share in the comments section!


For more detailed information regarding RTI Tier II behavioral interventions refer to Using the Response to Intervention Model for Difficult and Disruptive Student Behaviors  k-12 available at

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