Multi-tiered System of Supports


Accommodations:  Accommodations are changes that can be made in the way the student accesses information and demonstrates performance (Rule 6A-6.03411(1)(a), Florida Administrative Code [F.A.C.]). The accommodations make it possible for students to work around the effect of their disabilities. An accommodation allows a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation.  The accommodation does not alter in any significant way what the test or assignment measures.  Examples of accommodations include a student who is blind taking a Braille version of a test or a student taking a test alone in a quiet room.  Accommodations that are appropriate for assessments do not invalidate assessment results. Accommodations are not the same as instructional interventions for academics or behavior. (See Adaptations, Interventions, and Modifications for important distinctions)

Adaptations: Adaptations reduce the length or complexity of the practice or test items and make assignments or test items more accessible. In general, teachers should only use task adaptations in the initial stages of instruction and then fade them so that the student has the opportunity to learn the concept or skill at the required level of proficiency. Task adaptations are considered accommodations because they are temporary and they do not reduce learning expectations. Examples of task adaptations include:  Making assignments or assessments less complex, such as by crossing out one of the options on a multiple-choice question so that a student only has to pick from three options instead of four, providing hints or clues to correct responses on assignments and tests, such as the page number in the book where the answer to the question can be found.  (See Accommodations, Interventions, and Modifications for important distinctions)

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): A behavior intervention plan is the process by which the Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) information is incorporated into a concrete plan of action for addressing a student's behavior. By understanding the purpose the behavior serves for the student as well as the environmental events that trigger the occurrence of the behavior, one is able to develop an informed hypothesis that drives a function-based intervention plan. An effective BIP includes intervention strategies that prevent problem behavior; teach new, appropriate replacement skills; and respond to the new behavior with a functionally equivalent reinforcement. Therefore, similar behaviors should not routinely be treated with identical interventions, as the functions of the behaviors may be very different. (See Functional Behavioral Assessment)


 Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT): BYOT,  also referred to in other literature as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), is an instructional technology approach that allows students to use their personal devices (example, laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc.) for learning in the classroom. BYOT allows students to use their personal devices to provide anytime, anywhere access to learning, with a focus on the pedagogy of allowing students to learn through collaboration with peers and teachers, access to resources, higher order thinking, and publishing their work.


 Common Core Standards:The Common Core State Standards outline rigorous content expectations with the intent to make all students college- and career-ready (CCR) by the end of 12th grade.   They have a greater emphasis on the larger end-goal (i.e., CCR Anchor Standards for English/Language Arts and the Standards for Mathematical Practice for Mathematics) and are highly supportive of educators differentiating instruction to ensure that all students are given every opportunity to meet these overarching achievement goals. 


Coordinated instructional sequences:  Coordinated instructional sequences take into consideration how information is selected, sequenced, organized, and practiced. Coordinated instructional sequences occur within each component of reading where a logical progression of skills would be evident: easier skills are introduced before more difficult skills, so that skills build progressively. The other way coordinated instructional sequences are evident is in the clear and meaningful relationship or linking of instruction across the five components of reading: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension. If students orally segment and blend words with the letter-sound /f/ during phonemic awareness instruction, then we would expect to see it followed by practice in connecting the sound /f/ with the letter f. This would be followed by fluency practice in reading words, sentences, and/or passages with the letter-sound /f/. Spelling practice would include /f/ and other previously learned letter-sounds.


Core Curriculum:  The core curriculum is the course of study deemed critical and usually made mandatory for all students of a school or school system. Core curricula are often instituted at the elementary and secondary levels by local school boards, Departments of Education, or other administrative agencies charged with overseeing education.  

Core Instruction: Core instruction is provided to all students in the class, and it is usually guided by a comprehensive core curriculum. Part of the core instruction is usually provided to the class as a whole, and part is provided during the small group, differentiated instruction period. Although instruction is differentiated by student need during the small group period, materials and lesson procedures from the core program can frequently be used to provide re-teaching, or additional teaching to students according to their needs.         

Criterion-Referenced Assessment
Criterion-referenced assessment measures what a student understands, knows, or can accomplish in relation to a specific performance objective. It is typically used to identify a student's specific strengths and weaknesses in relation to an age or grade level standard. It does not compare students to other students.

Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM): CBM is an approach to measurement that is used to screen students or to monitor student progress in mathematics, reading, writing, and spelling. With CBM, teachers and schools can assess individual responsiveness to instruction. When a student proves unresponsive to the instructional program, CBM signals the teacher/school to revise that program. CBM is form of Curriculum-Based Assessment (CBA) and meets the three requirements of CBA:  1) measurement materials are aligned with the school’s curriculum; (2) measurement occurs frequently; and (3) assessment information is used to formulate instructional decisions. CBM differs from CBA because of two additional properties: (1) Each CBM test is an alternate form of equivalent difficulty; and (2) CBM is standardized, with its reliability and validity well documented.

Data Point: A data point is one score on a graph or chart, which represents a student’s performance at one point in time.

Diagnostic: Diagnostics are tests that can be used to measure a variety of reading, language, or cognitive skills. Although they can be given as soon as a screening test indicates a child is behind in reading growth, they will usually be given only if a child fails to make adequate progress after being given extra help in learning to read. They are designed to provide a more precise and detailed picture of the full range of a child’s knowledge and skill so that instruction can be more precisely planned.

Differentiated Instruction: Differentiated instruction refers to educators tailoring the curriculum, teaching environments, and practices to create appropriately different learning experiences for students in order to meet each student’s needs. To differentiate instruction is to recognize students’ varying interests, readiness levels, and levels of responsiveness to the standard core curriculum and to plan responsively to address these individual differences. There are four elements of the curriculum that can be differentiated: content, process, products, and learning environment.  In its simplest form, different instruction is matching instruction to meet the different needs of learners in a given classroom.

Direct Instruction: The teacher defines and teaches a concept, guides students through its application, and arranges for extended guided practice until mastery is achieved.

Empirical Research: Refers to scientifically based research that applies rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain valid knowledge. This includes research that: employs systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment; has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective and scientific review; involves rigorous data analyses that are adequate to test the stated hypotheses and justify the general conclusions drawn; relies on measurements or observational methods that provide valid data across evaluators and observers and across multiple measurements and observations; and can be generalized.


Evidence-Based Interventions:  Evidence-based interventions (EBI) are treatments that have been proven effective (to some degree) through outcome evaluations. As such, EBI are treatments that are likely to be effective in changing target behavior if implemented with integrity.



Explicit Instruction: Involves direct explanation. The teacher’s language is concise, specific, and related to the objective. Another characteristic of explicit instruction is a visible instructional approach which includes a high level of teacher/student interaction. Explicit instruction means that the actions of the teacher are clear, unambiguous, direct, and visible. This makes it clear what the students are to do and learn. Nothing is left to guess work.


Fidelity of Implementation: The degree to which instruction follows the intent and design of the program. Fidelity refers to the accurate and consistent provision or delivery of instruction in the manner in which it was designed or prescribed according to research findings and/or developers’ specifications.  Five common aspects of fidelity include: adherence, exposure, program differentiation, student responsiveness, and quality of delivery.


Flexible Grouping: Grouping students according to shared instructional needs and abilities and regrouping as their instructional needs change. Group size and allocated instructional time may vary among groups.


Formal Assessment: Formal assessment follows a prescribed format for administration and scoring. Scores obtained from formal tests are standardized, meaning that interpretation is based on norms from a comparative sample of children.

Formative Assessment: Formative assessment is a form of evaluation used to plan instruction in a recursive way. With formative assessment, student progress is systematically assessed to provide continuous feedback to both the student and the teacher concerning learning successes and failures. With formative assessment, teachers diagnose skill, ability, and knowledge gaps, measure progress, and evaluate instruction. Formative assessments are not necessarily used for grading purposes. Examples include (but are not limited to): CBM, CBA, pre/post tests, portfolios, benchmark assessments, quizzes, teacher observations, and teacher/student conferencing.

Functional Behavioral   Assessment (FBA): Functional behavioral assessment is a process that helps understand the relation between problem behavior and environmental context and contingent consequences leading to an effective and empirically validated behavior intervention plan. (See Behavior Intervention Plan)


General Outcome Measures (GOM): General outcome measurement (GOMGOM - Good Old MAD.

Don Boettner, U Mich. MAD for the IBM 360. Parts of the MTS time-sharing system were written in GOM. ) is a simple set of procedures that teachers can use to plan, adapt, individualizein·di·vid·u·al·ize  
tr.v. in·di·vid·u·al·ized, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·ing, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·es
1. To give individuality to.

2. To consider or treat individually; particularize.

3. , and evaluate instructional programs for their students. GOM involves the use of direct, repeated measurement of student progress toward long-range instructional goals. Progress is measured by developing standard tasks that are used as indicators of student proficiency in a content or skill area. For example, in reading, the number of words a student reads in 1 min is often used as a measure of generalizedgen·er·al·ized
1. Involving an entire organ, as when an epileptic seizure involves all parts of the brain.

2. Not specifically adapted to a particular environment or function; not specialized.

..... Click the link for more information. proficiency. Teachers administer the standard tasks on a frequent basis (one to two times per week) and record the scores on individual student graphs. The database of scores that is produced provides the teachers with an objective record of the student's growth in a skill area. Using this database, the teacher can make decisions regarding the student's rate of improvement in the area, the effectiveness of the instructional program, and the effectiveness of various modifications to that instructional program.

Goal Line (sometimes referred to as an aim line): The goal line on a graph connects the intersection of the student’s initial performance level and date of that initial performance level to the intersection of the student’s year-end goal and the date of that year-end goal. It represents the expected rate of student progress over time.

Implicit Instruction: The opposite of explicit instruction. Students discover skills and concepts instead of being explicitly taught. For example, the teacher writes a list of words on the board that begin with the letter “m” (mud, milk, meal, and mattress) and asks the students how the words are similar. The teacher elicits from the students that the letter “m” stands for the sound you hear at the beginning of the words.


Instructional Reading Level: The level at which a reader can read text with 90% accuracy (i.e., no more than one error per 10 words read). Instructional reading level engages the student in challenging, but manageable text.


Instructional Routines: Instructional routines include the following sequence of steps: Explicit instruction; Modeling; Guided Practice; Student practice, application and feedback; and generalization.

Interventions: Interventions supplements primary intervention (i.e., the universal core program) such that students receive additional research-based preventative treatment.  Secondary level interventions (i.e., Tier 2) are often short-term, implemented in small group settings, and may be individualized.  Intensive academic and/or behavioral interventions are characterized by their increased focus for students who fail to respond to less intensive forms of instruction.  Intensity can be increased through many dimensions including length, frequency, and duration of implementation. Within RTI, intensive is sometimes referred to as tertiary intervention or Tier 3 supports.  Interventions should be utilized based on an analysis of the data and interventions are to be targeted to the area of concern. This level of analysis occurs with the Problem-Solving framework.

Job-embedded professional development (JEPD): Job-embedded professional development refers to teacher learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice and is designed to enhance teachers’ content-specific instructional practices with the intent of improving student learning. It is primarily school or classroom based and is integrated into the workday, consisting of teachers assessing and finding solutions for authentic and immediate problems of practice as part of a cycle of continuous improvement .  JEPD is a shared, ongoing process that is locally rooted and makes a direct connection between learning and application in daily practice, thereby requiring active teacher involvement in cooperative, inquiry-based work..

Modifications: A modification is an adjustment to as assignment of a test that changes the standard or what the test or assignment is supposed to measure.  Examples of possible modifications include a student completing work on part of a standard or a student completing an alternate assignment that is more easily achievable than the standard assignment. Other examples include requiring less content, such as fewer objectives, shorter assignments, limiting assignments or assessments to the easiest problems.  Modifications are alterations that change, lower, or reduce learning expectations. Modifications can increase the gap between the achievement of students with disabilities and expectations for proficiency at a particular grade level. (See Accommodations and Adaptations for important distinctions)

Multi-Tiered System of Supports: A system where resources and services are organized efficiently on a continuum of intensity based on students’ academic and behavioral needs, whatever those needs might be. 

Norm-Referenced Assessment: Norm-referenced assessment compares a student's performance to that of an appropriate peer group.

Positive Behavioral Support (PBS):  Positive Behavioral Support is an empirically validated, function-based approach to eliminate challenging behaviors and replace them with prosocial skills.  Use of PBS decreases the need for more intrusive or aversive interventions (i.e., punishment or suspension) and can lead to both systemic and individualized change.

Problem-Solving:  Volusia County Schools’ problem-solving approach encompasses the following four steps:  Problem Identification, Analysis of Problem, Intervention Implementation and Response to Instruction/Intervention.  Problem-solving is used at both the individual, class, school-wide and district level.  It is to be used for ALL students and educational problems (i.e., general education, exceptional student education, ELL, etc.).

Problem-Solving Teams:  Volusia County Schools’ Problem Solving Teams (PST) are intervention driven/progress monitoring teams at each school which assists students, families and teachers in seeking positive solutions for all students. The primary goal of the PST is to support teachers and parents by generating effective research- based academic and behavioral strategies for individual targeted students. In addition, Problem Solving Teams can use school-wide and class-wide data to monitor the success and difficulties of groups of students and can offer academic and behavioral interventions to be applied to class or school- wide issues.  

Professional Learning Communities (PLC): A group in which educators commit to ongoing learning experiences with a deliberate intent to transform teaching and learning at their school or within their district.

 Progress Monitoring: Progress monitoring is used to assess students’ academic performance, to quantify a student rate of improvement or responsiveness to instruction, and to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or an entire class.

Response to Interventions (RtI): RtI is the practice of (1) providing high-quality instruction/intervention matched to student needs and (2) using learning rate over time and level of performance to (3) make important educational decisions. These three components of RtI are essential.  

Scaffolding: Scaffolding is an instructional technique in which the teacher breaks a complex task into smaller tasks, models the desired learning strategy or task, provides support as students learn the task, and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students. In this manner, a teacher enables students to accomplish as much of a task as possible without assistance.

Screening: An informal inventory that provides the teacher and others a beginning indication of the student’s preparation for academic and behavioral expectations. It is a “first alert” that a child may need extra help to make adequate progress in a specific academic area or in behavior.


Specially designed instruction:  Specially designed instruction refers to adapting, as appropriate, to the needs of an eligible exceptional student, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the student that result from the student’s disability or giftedness and to ensure access of the student to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the school district that apply to all students. 

Standards-Based Grading: Standards-based grading is predicated on student mastery of core academic content on a continuum of knowledge or skill.  Standards-based grading is a refined way of reporting what students know and how they demonstrate their learning of state content standards.  Standards-based grading provides clear and consistent targets, judges performance against a standard, communicates progress toward meeting standards, reports non-academic factors separately, and engages students in their own learning.  In pure standards-based grading, students do not move on to a new level of content until they have mastered the current level; grades are not summarized at the subject level but reported by individual benchmarks.


Standards-Referenced Grading and Reporting: Standards-referenced grading is a refined way of reporting what students know and how they demonstrate their learning of grade-level state content standards.  Standards-referenced grading provides clear and consistent targets, judges performance against a standard, communicates progress toward meeting standards, reports non-academic factors separately, and engages students in their own learning.  In standards-referenced grading, students may move on to the next content area without demonstrating mastery of every benchmark; grades are summarized and reported at the subject level.

Standard Protocol Intervention: Standard protocol intervention relies on the same, empirically validated intervention for all students with similar academic or behavioral needs. Standard protocol interventions facilitate quality control.

Student Engagement:  Student engagement is a term that is frequently used in reference to perceptions of student commitment to schoolwork, connection to school, and investment in learning. Many contextual factors have been deemed antecedents of engagement (i.e., teacher support, peers, classroom structure, autonomy support, task characteristics, and needs for related autonomy and competence).

Supplemental instruction:  Supplemental instruction is instruction that goes beyond that provided by the comprehensive core program because the core program does not provide enough instruction or practice in a key area to meet the needs of the students in a particular classroom or school. For example, teachers in a school may observe that their comprehensive core program does not provide enough instruction in vocabulary, or in phonics, to adequately meet the needs of the majority of their students. They could then select a supplemental program in these areas to strengthen the initial instruction and practice provided to all students.

Systematic Instruction: A carefully planned sequence for instruction, similar to a builder’s blueprint for a house. A blueprint is carefully thought out and designed before building materials are gathered and construction begins. The plan for instruction that is systematic is carefully thought out, strategic, and designed before activities and lessons are planned. For systematic instruction, lessons build on previously taught information, from simple to complex.

Summative Assessment: Summative assessment is a form of evaluation used to describe the effectiveness of an instruction program or intervention, that is, whether the intervention had the desired effect. With summative assessment, student learning is typically assessed at the end of a course of study or annually (at the end of a grade).

Tiered Instruction: Tiered instruction describes levels of instructional intensity within a multi-tiered prevention system. 

Trend Line: A trend line is a line on a graph that represents a line of best fit through a student’s data points. The trend line can be compared against the aim line to help inform responsiveness to intervention and to tailor a student’s instructional program. 

Universal Screening: Universal screening is conducted, usually as a first stage within a screening process, to identify or predict students who may be at risk for poor learning outcomes. Universal screening tests are typically brief; conducted with all students at a grade level; and followed by additional testing or short-term progress monitoring to corroborate students’ risk status.  Universal screening can address both academic and behavioral domains.