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Multitiered Instructional Models for English Learners

Response to intervention (RTI) is commonly implemented in the elementary grades as a framework for data-informed decision-making regarding the design and delivery of instruction for all students, including those identified with specific instructional needs. In many RTI models, instruction is “tiered” at three levels. Tier I refers to the core curriculum and instruction that all students receive, Tier II refers to supplemental support that some students receive, and Tier III offers an even more intensive level of instruction for students who do not respond adequately to Tier I and Tier II instruction. Educators use this multitiered system to identify students’ needs and respond accordingly with appropriate, research-based instruction and interventions.

We use this framework to conceptualize a multitiered system of support (MTSS) for English learners. Our work focuses on developing, testing, and adapting an MTSS in schools that serve high numbers of English learners, so that model practices address the unique language and literacy needs of students who are learning English as a second language or English and Spanish simultaneously. 

The Project ELITE2 Model

Our model includes five components that are key to meeting the needs of English learners through an MTSS. You can learn more about each component by clicking on the boxes below.

 
Multitiered Systems of Support for English Learners
High-quality culturally and linguistically responsive core instruction
High-quality culturally and linguistically responsive supplemental (Tiers II–III) instruction
Linguistically aligned assessment practices
Systematic use of assessment data in the design and delivery of instruction
Educator capacity building for sustained quality and services for English learners
 
1. High-quality culturally and linguistically responsive core instruction
  • Integrate instruction in the four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Front-load key language structures and vocabulary.
  • Facilitate purposeful interaction around text.
  • Create culturally and linguistically relevant learning environments.
  • Use explicit and interactive approaches to teaching specific components of literacy.
2. High-quality culturally and linguistically responsive supplemental (Tiers II–III) instruction
  • Supplement, do not replace, core instruction.
  • Align interventions with language(s) of core literacy instruction.
  • Include a specific focus on language development.
  • Scaffold to accommodate students’ level of English language proficiency.
3. Linguistically aligned assessment practices
  • Choose linguistically appropriate assessment measures.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of curricula and instructional delivery through regular data-analysis meetings.
4. Systematic use of assessment data in the design and delivery of instruction
  • Use multiple sources of data when making instructional decisions about English learners and identifying possible reading difficulties. These data include language proficiency, learning patterns, quality of core and supplemental instruction, home and community factors, and past educational placement.
  • Ensure the accurate and appropriate identification of learning disabilities among English learners.
5. Educator capacity building for sustained quality of services for English learners
  • Integrate job-embedded professional development to support implementation of mode components.
  • Use a variety of professional development formats, such as formal face-to-face training, modeling, observation, feedback, and reflection.
  • Foster teacher leadership and create demonstration classrooms available for peer observation.