The “Pyramid of Intervention” is a concept that was established in order to provide a system of supports offered by schools that address students who are struggling academically. Teachers develop their curriculum based on standards that are established by the states, and they use textbooks that are approved and adapted to meet the needs of the class (Pyramid of Intervention: Kaiser School System of Supporting Struggling Students.) By observing their students, teachers are able to track progress through the process of reviewing their work and conducting a variety of evaluations that include formal and informal tools such as quizzes and examinations.

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Developing a pyramid of intervention for a school district involves understanding that children learn differently, so that the curriculum must be developed according to their readiness to learn, involvement in the classroom process, support at home, intelligence, and different learning styles. Teachers are able to witness the varying results of academic progress by observing the students work, which underscores the fact that certain children are able to learn more quickly than others as well as learning well, and for these children the teachers give them challenging or open ended work. Four other children that may have problems learning at the same rate, teachers develop interventions that provide them with additional support or other methods to assist them.

School districts are able to develop pyramid of intervention by clearly defining the three tiers that comprise the pyramid, which students should be placed where in that configuration, and what sort of instruction is necessary to meet the needs of those students. The relationship between the pyramid of learning, school curriculum, and learning strategies are as follows: Tier 1 provides standards-based instruction in every classroom for every student, and the academic interventions that are provided include basic school subjects, speech, and behavioral methods (Rathbun, 2013.) This level is designed to maximize learning for all students, and to reduce the numbers of students who will require extra interventions. The core curriculum addresses the learning needs for most students, allowing 80 to 90% of students to achieve the levels of performance measurements (Pyramid of Intervention, 2009.)

The second tier consists of strategic interventions given to students who are not successful in the first tier. This academic teaching and learning experiences frequently happen in small groups that are organized based on need, and/or may include instruction that is computer-based. The progress of these students is tracked on a regular basis. This level is considered to be a supplemental program to the tier 1 level, provides accommodations to students to assist them with mastery in academic subjects, and also includes appropriate consultations with specialists and other experts as needed.
The third tier offers services to children that are planned through a Student Support Team, or SST.

This level is for students who have not been able to succeed in the first two, or who have been evaluated initially and determined to be in need of support deriving from all three levels. In such cases, the child’s parents are invited to attend an SST meeting. The team collaborates to formulate a strategic plan that is tailored to meet the needs of the student. When requested, school psychologists can provide diagnostic testing in order to help the team to develop the appropriate intervention plan (Rathbun, 2013.) The progress of the student is followed on a regular basis, and students who are not able to manage to perform adequately with such intensive services may be referred for further help through the Exceptional Student Services Department, or a body that is the equivalent in different school districts. This level is founded on individualized, research-based intensive supports (Pyramid of Intervention, 2009.)

There are certain issues to be considered regarding the strategy known as the pyramid of intervention. For example, it remains a question about how each of the tiers is staffed: because the children in the second and third tiers have more learning needs, does that mean that school districts are willing to pay for teaching assistants, aides, or other personnel to assist with groups of children that require more support and may need additional assistance for behavioral issues? Another question that was raised for me is how the pyramid of intervention works for different socioeconomic groups, including children and families who may not have access to well-funded schools and resources. Is the pyramid of intervention practical and effective for all social strata? Finally, does this strategy work for families that include uninvolved or absent parents, and if that is the situation what do the school districts do in lieu of parental involvement?

My recommendations are the following: the pyramid of intervention must be tailored to fit individual schools and school districts based on a variety of factors including socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and whether the schools are located in urban-suburban-exurban communities. In addition, I believe that standards should be developed for staff levels at all three tiers, since the students in the first tier to not require as much support and might do well in classrooms where there is one teacher for every 15 to 20 students. Students at the second tier level might need smaller classrooms or more staff, and the same goes for the third tier. In order to accommodate the small-group framework that is part of the supportive instruction, there would necessarily have to be enough staff that is adequately trained to work with the students.

  • Pyramid of Intervention. (2009, August 19). Retrieved from Slide Share:
  • Rathbun, S. (2013). Gordon County RTI Coordinator. Retrieved from Gordon County Schools:
  • The Pyramid of Intervention: Kaiser School System of Supporting Struggling Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from Kaiser Elementary: Pyramid of Intervention.pdf