B. Definition

Tiered instruction is a framework for linking assessment with instructional and behavioral supports that are matched to children’s learning needs. Tiered instruction also is called Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavior Support (PBS).

The key components of tiered instruction are:

  • formative assessment
  • instruction and targeted interventions
    (NPDCI, 2012)

For additional information on RTI in early childhood, read the NPDCI concept paper, Response to Intervention (RTI) in early childhood: Building consensus on the defining features.

Watch the clip below to hear Dr. Virginia Buysse describe the key features of RTI in early childhood. Dr. Buysse is a Senior Scientist at the FPG Child Development Institute and directs a program of research on Recognition & Response (R&R), a model of Response to Intervention (RTI) for pre-kindergarten programs.  The clip is from an online forum, “Implementing Response to Intervention in Early Childhood Settings: National, State, and Program Perspectives” that the RTI Action Network held featuring a conversation with key experts on the role RTI can play in early childhood.

Video 7.3: Dr. Virginia Buysse- Key Features of RTI

Dr. Virginia Buysse discusses the key features of the early childhood Response to Intervention (RTI) model (running time: 2 min. 09 sec.).

View Transcript


This RTI national online forum is presented by the RTI action network a program of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Funding is provided by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.


Virginia, I’d like to try to cover the basics of RTI with you. We’re going to get into more specifics later on, but for now what are the key features of early childhood RTI model.


Well Doris, RTI is essentially a framework that can help practitioners link assessment to instruction. So if you take that basic definition there are a couple of key components.




The first is the assessment component and within RTI there is a particular type of assessment that is used and it’s called formative assessment. It’s called formative because the assessment relies on information that’s gathered on children’s behavior and skills and it’s used to inform instructional decisions.

The other component is the instructional component of course. And that consists of the sort of core instruction that all children receive. In the form of a core curriculum and intentional teaching. But layered on top of that are the tiered interventions and supports that some children need.

And a third component are the supports for making database decisions and so there are a couple ideas around that concept. One is that there needs to be a mechanism by which parents and teachers and specialists can collaborate and work together to solve problems. In addition they need some criteria for how to make decisions, so benchmarks about what are the key domains of learning for children at this age. So that they can understand what goals should be accomplished. Also some criteria for determining which children might need some additional supports based on assessments.


Alright, thank you so much.