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Ask the ‘TASC is a PBIS advice column from the RSE-TASC Specialists

Question: Tier 1 and 3 seem clear. What would Tier 2 look like? In classroom vs. outside of classroom? Small group? Who is responsible? Teachers? Social Workers? School Psychologist?

Response 1:

Sara Fienup, 

Behavior Specialist

Tier 2 interventions provide support to those students who are at-risk for developing more serious problem behavior. In any given year, 10-15% of a school’s population might access Tier 2 interventions. The hope is that these students will learn to exhibit appropriate behavior and will find success in school without needing intensive, individualized support at the Tier 3 level.

But what do Tier 2 interventions look like? Simply put, Tier 2 is Tier 1, but more frequent and more intensive. At the Tier 1 level, all students are taught expected behaviors and all students are intermittently reinforced for engaging in those behaviors. Some students will require more frequent reinforcement and/or more intensive teaching in order to meet expectations. That’s where Tier 2 come in. The more frequent reinforcement is often called Check-In Check-Out (CICO) and consists of student-teacher check-ins throughout the day. The teacher provides specific praise as well as constructive feedback on the student’s targeted behaviors. The intensive teaching is often called Social Skills Groups or Social-Academic Instructional Groups (SAIG), which teach expected behaviors through modeling, role-play, feedback and generalization.

While CICO and SAIG are the most widely researched Tier 2 interventions, schools may choose to develop other kinds of interventions based on the needs of their students. For example, if data indicate that a group of students are struggling academically due to poor organizational skills, then an Organizational Skills intervention may be appropriate. Whichever interventions a school chooses to develop and implement, it’s essential that each one includes a progress monitoring component that measures students’ progress in the natural setting (i.e., the classroom or the cafeteria) as opposed to the counseling setting. Then, as part of the twice-monthly meetings held by the Tier 2 team, progress monitoring data can be analyzed to determine which students need a modification to their plan, which students need a more intensive intervention, and which students are ready to be faded off of the plan (i.e., self-monitoring). Hence, the “continuum of support” that is PBIS.

For more information about Tier 2, check out these resources:


Response 2:

Fran Fernandez, 

Non District School Improvement Specialist

When planning PBIS implementation, it is important to remember that the PBIS framework is a guide that can look different across settings. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when thinking about what Tier 2 can look like in your setting.

 Classroom Practices

Dr. Terry Scott presented “Effective Instruction as a Tier 2 Intervention” in December 2016. Dr. Scott shared a few classroom concepts to help educators in improving instructional practices.

  1. Create an environment that predicts success: Students in effective classrooms are oriented to lessons as their teachers provide multiple opportunities for engagement through the use of modeling, pacing, questioning, prompting, explicit corrective feedback and praise. Classroom expectations are clearly taught and acknowledged, with consistency in scheduling to ensure all students feel safe to learn in their classroom.
  2. Teach: be direct and explicit when presenting instruction- don’t assume. Show and tell students exactly what the rule is, be sure to engage students and ask them questions to check for understanding.
  3. Actively engage students:  Show students, ask for action & guide practice to facilitate high rates of success. Engage students in instruction by providing multiple opportunities to respond (i.e. choral & individual responses, closed & open ended questions) and through active attention recruitment (i.e. connect to student lives, personal stories, interest/ encouragement).
  4.  Provide students with regular feedback on their performance: Acknowledge student success and be sure to use error corrections (feedback that behavior is inappropriate, re-teach appropriate behavior and facilitate success with positive feedback).
  5. Regularly assess our own fidelity of implementation and use it to create professional development plans: Be sure to set a goal, review data and evaluate your impact on student outcomes.

 Small Group/ Outside of the Classroom

There are a few planning requirements to consider when setting up small groups of students that may or may not meet outside of their classroom. Dr. Scott identified:

  1.  Scheduling & Logistics
    • When and where to meet?
    • Who are the participants?
    • How many participants?
    • What are the relevant skills?
    • Who will teach?
  2. Generalization strategies
    • planned in advanced (what happens before, during & after the session)
  3. Group management strategies
    • develop a set of group rules
    • system to respond to challenging behaviors
    • use strategies to maintain attention and desired behavior


Who is responsible to implement all of this? That decision depends on your school. All teachers can be responsible for ‘effective instruction’ as a Tier II intervention. Small groups can be run by teachers, deans, coaches, social workers or school psychologists. I recommend consulting with your PBIS team, using data to determine needs and engaging staff in how best to support students.

Scott, T.M. (2016). Tier II Strategies for Students Challenging Behaviors:  Academic & Social Success, Lower Hudson Regional Partnership Center at PNW BOCES, Yorktown Heights, NY, December 16, 2017.



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