Response to Intervention Strategies to Improve Student Behavior


Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies are multi-tiered approaches to identify and address learning and behavior needs of students. The strategies that teachers and administrators use can help to provide structure and clear expectations of behavior for students as well as clear protocols for staff to use when working with students. Interventions put in place are aligned to the student’s unique needs and can be measured to monitor progress and provide data for any needed adjustments to interventions in place and to guide any necessary future interventions.

The National Center on Response to Intervention suggests that there are four main components to an RTI framework: 


  • Screening: Assessments to identify which students require additional support.
  • Monitoring Progress: Assessments used to measure effectiveness of instruction and progress to goals.
  • Tiered Prevention System: Tools to provide differentiated instruction with charts and strategic instructional approaches.
  • Data-informed Decisions: Assessment measure and data analysis of student outcomes.

While moving through these four components, leadership should consider the cultural and linguistic responsiveness related to student ability. Understanding these components was critical for me in my role as a classroom teacher to understand how to plan, utilize and monitor strategies for my students.

As I began to adjust my classroom instruction, I first needed to know what skills my students needed more support with. Screening for each student enabled me to gather enough information and data to determine which strategies to implement that were directly aligned to their needs. Screenings could include assessment of student strengths, skills, language and behavior management practices. 

Using an analysis system helped to organize all of the data to monitor student progress. As a teacher, having a system to review individual student data alongside class or grade level data allows teachers and administration to easily identify students who may need support, and the specific areas they need support in. 

The fourth component suggests using data to inform instructional practice that supports RTI work with students. The data collected can inform the type of instructional or behavioral support strategies a student may need to accommodate their needs.

There are several tools and resources to monitor student data. This may include charts, or digital software that students engage with. Some software tools can measure specific skills like math literacy or measure long term goals like reading comprehension. Schoolwide behavior RTI programs like Kickboard support administrators with identifying tools all teachers will use to collect data and improve practice. Otherwise, each teacher or grade level leader can make decisions on how to collect the student information. 

RTI Behavior Strategies

The RTI approach provides direct strategies to improve student behavior. RTI systems are tiered to ensure each student is getting what they need. Teachers and administrators can decide how students progress from one level to the next, shifting supports and outcomes for each student.

Tier 1 Interventions

This tier is foundational and supports behavior for about 80% of students. Each teacher or administrator will be able to use a set of incentives or behavior management reinforcements to encourage successful student behavior. 

  • Clear rules and expectations: Use a tool that clearly identifies what the expectations are and any incentives the student can earn when they meet those expectations.
  • Verbal reinforcement: Teachers can practice giving explicit instructions, naming what positive behavior looks like and then identifying a student who is behaving accordingly.

Tier 2 Interventions

At the completion of the student assessments, the teacher should be able to identify if there are students who need more specific behavior support. Tier 2 interventions are necessary for about 15% of students, who will need more targeted support. This may include resources that help them self-monitor progress or systems that give students structures that manage their behavior patterns and allow them to have agency on adjusting that behavior by excusing themselves or connecting with a staff member. 

  • Behavior charts: Students can use folders to monitor their behavior from one class to the next. Teachers can sign it and then share with parents or guardians to provide reinforcement and behavior feedback for the student.
  • Social skills groups: Teachers can assign students in groups that support their social skill development. If a student is learning to work in pairs or participate in small group activities, this group will be a place to receive direct instruction and to practice.

Tier 3 Interventions

If there are students who need additional support beyond Tier 1 and Tier 2, Tier 3 supports provide even more structure. Tier 3 interventions may include an IEP or behavior plan identified by the RTI team. Tier 3 supports can be identified by school staff but parents are likely involved in the implementation and reinforcement.

  • Counseling supports: Tier 3 supports can be most helpful if the root cause of the negative behavior has been identified. Counseling services will provide strategic support that help the students adjust their behavioral responses.
  • Behavior meetings: Parents and teachers can schedule behavior meetings to address student behavior and monitor progress. This is also an opportunity for parents to acquire skills that could help support students beyond the classroom.

There are many ways to impact student growth and behavior changes and RTI provides structures that both teachers and administrators can follow. Each school should be providing adequate support for students and an RTI program helps staff monitor progress and collect data to inform future decisions to ensure student growth. No matter the program that is implemented the data can be used by administrators to inform schoolwide, grade level, specific classroom or individual student level programming. RTI is a big picture approach to equitably providing behavior support for students.