RtI: The Forgotten Tier

RtI: The Forgotten Tier

A Practical Guide for Building a Data-Driven Tier 1 Instructional Process

by Joanne Klepeis Allain and Nancy Chapel Eberhardt


Designed for teachers and administrators grappling with the development and implementation of Response to Instruction and Intervention, more commonly referred to as RtI.

In our effort to translate the intent of RtI into practice, our observations and experiences with hundreds of educators have led us to focus on Tier 1. Even though what to use, when to use it, and how to access intervention in Tiers 2 and 3 are essential questions in an RtI model, we focus on the Tier 1 classroom as the foundation of a successful RtI implementation.

Our purpose is to provide a blueprint for the kind of instructional planning and decision-making that maximizes learning for all students—those who are proficient and advanced, as well as those who require intervention services. Making an investment in effective instruction for Tier 1 classrooms reduces expenditures by minimizing referrals for more intensive and expensive instructional support. A strong Tier 1 is cost effective for everyone—administrators, teachers, and students.

Each chapter in the book guides you through a process designed to zero in on critical aspects of Tier 1 instruction—those aspects that when addressed contribute to teacher success and student achievement.

  • Section 1 focuses on several critical instructional variables—what to teach, how to teach, and how to determine what students have learned.
  • Section 2 takes the next step and demonstrates how these variables play out in effective Tier 1 instruction. Using data to guide instructional decisions and assess student progress are at the heart of building a strong foundational program.
  • Section 3 examines decisions that exist beyond the Tier 1 classroom. These decisions pertain to infrastructure, policies, and overarching instructional goals that typically lie within the purview of school or district-wide leadership. This section also summarizes the process, presented as a checklist, designed to help you determine the state of Tier 1 in your classroom, school, or district. We invite you to take a look at the checklist in Chapter 9 as a pre-organizer for where you are in this process.

We hope these chapters will foster conversation about the importance and effectiveness of first instruction. When educators actively address these issues, the critical role of Tier 1 will not be forgotten; it will rise to the forefront.


Guiding the RtI Process—Public schools across then nation are confronted with many challenges. These challenges include charter movements, implementation of new core standards, and expectations about school performance. Response to Intervention is another one of those challenges that often confound schools who receive a “just do it” edict from their central offices. Alas, for those schools who are left without a clear understanding or pathway, along comes RtI: The Forgotten Tier to clear the way. Allain and Eberhardt have made the process clear and have created an understanding of how the process can be placed in any school setting in a coherent manner. They describe how getting it right on the top tier alleviates congestion in tiers 2 and 3 (you will understand that more when you read the book!) Principals, teachers, and school officials can get to the business of implementation of a cogent RtI model in their schools and avoid confusion. The book is clearly written and ripe with actual activities to guide the thinking process all the way through. Both authors have extensive experience in the process and the book makes one feel that the know of what they speak! –R.K.

Core is King—With the focus continuing to grow in the tiers other than the most important … Tier 1, it is great to see the authors experience shine through in this book. –zangam

Practical and Details—RtI or no RtI, this is an excellent guide to good teaching for both teachers and administrators. The authors deliver a proven and systematic intructional process in a style that is detailed yet easy-to-follow. Their stepwise approach makes this book a must read for those who are serious about fully implementing RtI and/or improving classroom instruction. –S.H.

Practical and Useful—Administrators can easily make use of the strategies for implementing a Response to Intervention and Instruction model. This book provides schools with a “how to” handbook that can support planning throughout the school year. Highly recommend this book for school and central staff. –D.S.

College text or school improvement teams—great for both audiences!—Gen ed teachers, special ed co-teachers, and administrators who would like to strengthen their Tier one implementation to reduce referrals will love this book! College professors, PLC groups, and School improvement teams can use this book as a springboard for committee work or a university practicum. Chapters 1-3 have at least one activity; chapters 4-7 have at least 3 activities in which teachers use their own data or a contrived data set to make instructional decisions. Work can be used to inform/create an RTI plan, create a portfolio or for a final college project. —sher

Great bookstudy material, offering guidance for professional practice. – RH

Helpful for school policymakers – This book is very useful as a tool for policymakers. Often overlooked in the area of instruction is the importance school boards play in decision making for student learning. As a board member I found it very, very useful. – LP

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Joanne Allain

Joanne Klepeis Allain is a national RtI consultant with 3t Literacy Group, works with states, districts, and schools across the country to develop, implement, and coach practical, customized RtI plans and instruction. Her career experience at both the classroom and district level provides the unique perspective of a practitioner in real schools with real children. As part of the planning process, Joanne focuses on the multiple roles educators play in increasing student achievement and providing the collaborative expertise needed for a comprehensive program. She works closely with RtI teams, teachers, and administrators at primary, intermediate, middle, and high school levels. Joanne is the author of Logistics of Literacy Intervention: A Planning Guide for Middle and High School and Logistics of Literacy Intervention: An RtI Planning Guide for Elementary Schools.

eberhardt-nancyNancy Chapel Eberhardt currently works with districts and schools to implement RtI systems that focus on literacy instruction and intervention. Her career in education has included roles as a special education teacher, diagnostician, mainstreaming associate, and district-level administrator. In these various capacities, Nancy has done extensive teacher training, professional development, and diagnostic assessment. Nancy has also worked as both editorial director and coauthor in the development of LANGUAGE! (Editions 2–4, a product of Cambium Learning Group), a comprehensive literacy curriculum for upper elementary, middle, and high school students with low literacy skills. Through this curriculum, Nancy’s goal has been to translate literacy research into instructional practice to help all students learn to read, spell and write.
The authors are available for training and coaching support to implement the process presented in this book.

Email them at:

Or visit their website: www.3tliteracygroup.org

ISBN: 978-0-9833971-5-1

Softcover: Perfect bind

Trim Size: 7 x 10

Pages: 132