TSR Connect

February 27, 2018

relevant research

Response to Intervention for At-Risk Students

“For a variety of reasons, young children entering preschool may not have had the opportunities needed…to learn language, early literacy, and social emotional regulation skills expected. Preschool RTI promises a means of preventing these early delays from becoming learning disabilities” (Greenwood, 2009).

Pre-kindergarten Response to Intervention (RTI) is an initiative that aims to meet the needs of children through a tiered instruction and assessment framework. This framework requires targeted and intentional instruction to meet those needs. There are several components of a P-RTI framework, such as:

  • Tiered instruction and intervention
  • Ongoing measures of student progress
  • High-quality instruction with research-based techniques and curricula
  • Family involvement in all aspects of learning

The goal of RTI is the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. In the RTI framework, instruction delivered to students varies depending on the nature and severity of each student’s difficulties.

Three tiers with increasingly intensive instruction are typically used to match instruction with children’s needs for support.

Tier 1 instruction starts with a high-quality, early childhood curriculum that includes progress monitoring for all children in the class. During tier 1 whole-group and or small-group instruction time, all children receive the same lesson and content.

Tier 2 instruction builds on high-quality core curriculum by providing additional instruction and curriculum modifications to targeted children. The goal of tier 2 instruction is to increase children’s rate of learning to catch them up and reduce the gap between these at-risk children and their typically developing peers. This tier occurs within small groups of three to five children, in addition to the regular classroom instruction.

Tier 3, also known as the problem-solving tier, is intensive instruction provided to a small percentage (2 to 5%) of students in the class. These are children that have received tier 2 instruction for a predetermined amount of time but are not responding adequately. Tier 3 is generally not indicated from an initial screening like CIRCLE Progress Monitoring, but rather from lack of progress in tier 2.

The RTI framework ensures that multiple data sources are collected for each child throughout the year. In each tier, different types of assessments are administered.

  • Tier 1: Teachers collect screening/progress monitoring data for all children.
  • Tier 2: Teachers gather more frequent progress monitoring data to determine how children are responding to more intensive tier 2 instruction.
  • Tier 3: Educators continue monitoring progress for children with curriculum-based measures that are linked to instructional objectives for tier 3. Tier 3 educators may consult with parents and other specialists about whether additional diagnostic assessments are needed. 

Progress monitoring assessment results (such as CIRCLE Progress Monitoring) generate tier 2 small groups for more targeted strategies.

CIRCLE Progress Monitoring provides a feature called the “Grouping Tool” that breaks children into groups based on their skill levels in certain learning domains (as determined by assessment results). Children in these groups have not reached the “satisfactory” level of each skill. These children need more practice and benefit from small group instruction (tier 2).

A unique feature of the CIRCLE Progress Monitoring tool is not only immediate feedback and grouping of children according to targeted need but also includes direct links to recommended intervention. These activities include the setting, materials, objectives, scripting for a gradual release modeled lesson with guided practice, scaffolding suggestions, and variations or extension activities. Many contain an exemplar video of small group instruction of the activity. There are also alignments with the Texas Pre-Kindergarten Guidelines, the Kindergarten TEKS, and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.   

teaching tips

Learn more about the Prekindergarten RTI approach in the online course, found under Online Learning and Professional Development on your CLI Engage dashboard. Click “Full Catalog” and go to the eCIRCLE Professional Development Series library. Enroll in the Pre-Kindergarten Response to Intervention course. (Please note, this course is only available to users with TSR Online access.) Here are some tips taken from the course to organize a successful tier 2 small group time:

A well-organized classroom with established management routines is essential for all instructional practices. It is particularly important given P-RTI's Tier 2 targeted small-group instruction. Consider which of these tips you need to focus on to ensure successful tier 2 small groups:

  • Establish a signal for children to ask you questions while you are working with other children in a small group. Some teachers have children use a signal for common things like going to the restroom or getting a drink so that they can just nod "yes" or "no" without stopping their lesson.
  • Provide time for a balance between the teacher-directed tier 1 and tier 2 lessons and child-directed activities. For example, allow tier 2 children to have some time (e.g., 10+ minutes) to work in centers before coming to small group.
  • Use your tone of voice and overall demeanor to make the tier 2 groups fun and engaging so that children see it as a fun activity and a privilege.

notable news

An online training course for the CIRCLE Progress Monitoring Pre-K is now available. When logged into CLI Engage, locate the course through the Course Catalog under Online Learning and Professional Development (purple banner). This 4-hour certificate course is a comprehensive training overview of the assessment, including test administration, scoring instructions, and reports.

Some technical difficulties prevented the successful transmission of a few of our recent webinars. If you experienced difficulty logging in or hearing sound, you can view recordings of previous webinars on CLI Engage under Training and Support in the top menu. Click on Webinars and Presentations.

Save the Date! The 8th Annual TSR Early Childhood Summer Institute will be at the Arlington Convention Center from June 19-21. The call for session proposals is now open.

CLI will offer the following 3-day coaching workshops for eligible ISDs and ESCs. Registration is free! Check with the individual ESC for registration information or contact us at ms.cli@uth.tmc.edu.

  • ESC 6, Huntsville, March 21-23
  • ESC 13, Austin, April 3-5
  • ESC 2, Corpus Christi, April 18-20

Reminders for TSR Comprehensive Participants

  • MOY COT and CEC complete by February 28
  • Second administrator meeting complete by February 28

recommended resources

CLI Engage Website

Texas School Ready Website

Children's Learning Institute Website

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)


connect with us at:




for more information, visit us at texasschoolready.org

Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth
7000 Fannin, Suite 2300, Houston, TX 77030

© 2017-present The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
All rights reserved.