Intervention is a team approach that involves targeted data-driven actions to support learners who are not responding to the high quality, responsive instruction of the teacher. Differentiated instruction and intervention assume that not all students learn at the same pace and in the same way. Some students respond to a specific pedagogy more quickly and some students need a different approach to reach understanding. For any given goal or outcome, some students need more time and/or different types of support in order to learn and access grade level content. Others need support to fill in learning gaps that prevent them from accessing grade level content. Differentiated instruction is a responsive pedagogy that provides different materials, arrangements, and strategies equitably to meet the varying needs of students. Intervention is a strategic and deliberate action to support learners with an identified learning need that may be holding them back.

Intervention differs from responsive instruction in that it makes provision for additional time and support in a targeted and strategic manner. Typically, it is a short term support structure that may involve an individual or small group of students with a similar need. It is intended for students who, in spite of the high quality, responsive instruction in the classroom, are still not able to access grade level outcomes. Intervention is based on specific learning targets identified through quality assessment practices. The team will deeply analyze the data available and then set a strategic plan that will be implemented as a short term intervention. Intervention emphasizes the importance of “assessing learners’ successes and needs continually.”1 As such, a specific time (5-6 weeks) should be designated and the success of the intervention should be frequently assessed.

An Intervention process IS…

An intervention process IS NOT…

A process

A program

Sustained and ongoing support

A quick fix

Individualized to student need

More of the same intervention provided in classroom

Data-based (relying on progress monitoring and diagnostic data)

Based on anecdotal information

For a small subset of students

For all students who score poorly on a screening measure

The Institute for Educational Sciences in their document Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RTI) for Elementary and Middle Schools2 identify eight research-based recommendations for math interventions:

Recommendation 1

  • Screen all students to identify those at risk for potential mathematics difficulties and provide interventions to students identified as at risk.

Recommendation 2

  • Instructional materials for students receiving interventions should focus intensely on in-depth treatment of whole numbers in kindergarten through grade 5 and on rational numbers in grades 4 through 8. These materials should be selected by committee.

Recommendation 3

  • Instruction during the intervention should be explicit and systematic. This includes providing models of proficient problem solving, verbalization of thought processes, guided practice, corrective feedback, and frequent cumulative review.

Recommendation 4

  • Interventions should include instruction on solving word problems that is based on common underlying structures.

Recommendation 5

  • Intervention materials should include opportunities for students to work with visual representations of mathematical ideas and interventionists should be proficient in the use of visual representations of mathematical ideas.

Recommendation 6

  • Interventions at all grade levels should devote about 10 minutes in each session to building fluent retrieval of basic arithmetic facts.

Recommendation 7

  • Monitor the progress of students receiving supplemental instruction and other students who are at risk.

Recommendation 8

  • Include motivational strategies in tier 2 and tier 3 interventions.

Click Here for Tiered Intervention in Math

Considerations for intervention team:

  • Who is on your intervention team?
  • Who will need to be informed about the intervention?
  • What data sources are you using to identify students who are struggling?
  • What data is informing the specificity of the targets and goals you set for students?
  • What do you need to get curious about with respect to this learner? What further assessment data is needed?
  • What instructional strategies have already been employed?
  • What research based strategies can you try to support this learner?
  • Who is best to deliver intervention support?
  • Where else can you get support for this or additional strategic actions?
  • How will you measure the success of the intervention?
  • How frequently will you assess the efficacy of the intervention provided?
  • What tools or methodology will you use?
  • What is standing in the way of providing additional time and support?
  • What resources will you need?
  • What level of expertise is available??
  • What professional development is needed for the teacher or specialist supporting this learner?
  • How can your administrator (or division) help you structure time to provide these strategic actions? (i.e. creative time-tabling or staffing considerations.)

Click here for Considerations for Administrators and Division Personnel: A Word about Intervention Specialists

Questions for reflection

  • What do I know about the process within my school for assisting struggling students? Who would I check with?
  • How have I engaged families/caregivers in the decision making around interventions for their child?
  • How am I monitoring the effectiveness of the intervention?

1Seifert, K. Differentiated instruction and response to intervention | Educational Psychology. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from

2Gersten, R., et al. (2009). Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools. Retrieved 3 December 2020, from See also Can be downloaded directly from:




%d bloggers like this: