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Tier 2: Targeted Small Group Intervention for Behavioral Needs

What is it?

Tier 2 practices and systems provide targeted support for students who are not successful with Tier 1 supports alone. The focus is on supporting students who are at risk for developing more serious problem behavior before they start. Essentially, the support at this level is more focused than Tier 1 and less intensive than Tier 3. 

Tier 2 supports often involve group interventions with ten or more students participating. Specific Tier 2 interventions include practices such as social skills groups, self-management, and academic supports. Targeted interventions like these, implemented by typical school personnel, are likely to demonstrate positive effects for up to 67% of referred students. Tier 2 interventions are:

  • Continuously available
  • Accessible within 72 hours of referral
  • Low effort by teachers
  • Aligned with school-wide expectations
  • Implemented by all staff/faculty in a school
  • Flexible and based on assessment
  • Function-based
  • Allocated adequate resources
  • Student chooses to participate
  • Continuously monitored
An infographic of 3 different sized triangles stacked and overlapping vertically to demonstrate the 3 tiers of a Multi-Tiered system of Support. The second triangle in the middle is labeled 2: Targeted and is highlighted. The words Academics and Behavior are written on the side edge of the triangle. Above the stacked triangles is a textbox titled Tier 2: Targeted. It reads: Data from universal screening is analyzed and used to validate student needs and match student snot meeting behavioral expectations with effective intervention based on their need. In Tier 2, interventions are provided within a small group setting. Schools can expect to provide Tier 2 intervention to approximately 15%-20% of students.

Foundational Systems

Tier 2 practices stem from a strong foundation of Tier 1 support. With school-wide systems in place, schools are able to identify which students need additional support. In addition to Tier 1 systems, the foundational systems involved in Tier 2 support are: 

Tier 2 Foundational Systems

Intervention Team
& Coordinator


Fidelity and Outcome
Data Collection

Identify Students Needing Tier 2 Interventions

Training & Technical Assistance

  • Establishes systems and practices for students needing Tier 2 support
  • Ensure students receive timely access to intervention
  • Oversee implementation
  • Regularly use data to monitor student progress and evaluate overall program
  • Team members with behavioral expertise help Tier 2 Teams consider the function of student behavior
  • Use behavioral data and identified function to choose intervention
  • Support intervention alignment with what is best for the individual student
  • Collect & monitor data about student performance
  • Use data to determine whether to continue, modify, fade, or intensify a student’s intervention
  • Monitor & assess fidelity of Tier 1 supports implementation (e.g., self-assessments, observations, etc.)     
  • Establish clearly defined and methodical process for considering and identifying students needing Tier 2 support
  • Strategy Examples include:
         Office discipline referrals             Screening instrument                     scores                                     Teacher nominations                   Parent/support service                 recommendations                    Formative assessments    
  • Develop and facilitate effective professional learning that is:
    • Research-based
    • Consistent
    • Convenient
    • Differentiated
  • Ensure access to training, practice, feedback, and coaching

Key Practices

Tier 2 practices start with a strong Tier 1 foundation. In addition to these Tier 1 practices, key Tier 2 practices include one or more of the following:

Increased Instruction and Practices with 
Self-Regulation and Social Skills

Regardless of the intervention, Tier 2 supports include additional instruction for key emotional, behavioral, and/or life skills. An important outcome of the Tier 2 interventions is when students can regulate on their own, when, where, and under what conditions particular skills are needed, and can successfully engage in those skills. Once data indicate a positive response to the intervention, students learn how to monitor and manage their own behavior.

Adult Supervision

Tier 2 supports include intensified, active supervision in a positive and proactive manner. For example, adults may be asked to move, scan, and interact more frequently with some students, according to their needs. This can be accomplished with simple rearrangements across school environments. 

Increased Opportunity for
Positive Reinforcement

Tier 2 supports target expected behavior by providing positive reinforcement more often. For example, students who participate in a Tier 2 "Check-in Check-out" intervention engage in feedback sessions with their classroom teacher and other adults in the school as many as 5-7 times per day. Many students view this positive adult attention as reinforcing and as a result, may be more likely to continue engaging in expected behaviors. 


At this level, another key practice to prevent problem behaviors is to anticipate when a student is likely to act out and plan ahead for it. One example is specifically reminding students of classroom expectations prior to engaging in an activity. These pre-corrections might be gestures or verbal statements delivered to an entire class, a small group of students, or with an individual student. Pre-corrections set students up for success by reminding them what to do prior to any potential problem situation.

Increased Focus on Possible
Function of Problem Behavior

Some students receiving Tier 2 behavior support may need additional academic support, too. For many students, engaging in challenging behavior functions to allow students to avoid or even escape academic tasks that are difficult for them. Behavioral supports may need to be combined with academic intervention to improve student outcomes. For behaviors not primarily related to academic challenges, functional behavior assessments (FBA) can be conducted to find the underlying antecedent and/or function of the student's problem behavior and support identifying interventions likely to help.

The Tier 2 Team

In addition to monitoring Tier 2 systems, the Tier 2 team meets regularly to design and refine Tier 2 interventions in the building. The team is responsible for reviewing students referred for the additional supports and providing training to families, school personnel, and students regarding interventions. In addition to the suggested roles for the Tier 2 Team below, team members may also serve in a coaching role to support implementation of Tier 2 practices among staff. Coaching practices are also included in the figure below.

Tier 2 Team Members and Skill Sets

Team Coordinator

School Administrator

Behavior Specialist

Classroom Teachers

Skill Sets:

Understanding & Reviewing Data            Communicating with Stakeholders

Encouraging, Teaching, Prompting, Providing Space, and Modeling for School Personnel

Distributing Information & Gathering Input          Organizing & Promoting Professional Learning