Implementing a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) without an intervention planning process is like trying to teach a class without a lesson plan. If you don't know where you're going (or have a plan for getting there), you won't be able to effectively support students.
Intervention plans are typically used as part of student support team processes for MTSS, RTI (response to intervention), or PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports). Once a caring adult determines that a student needs targeted support, the next step is to create an intervention plan.
In this post, we'll cover how to write an intervention plan and share a helpful template for getting started.
What Is an Intervention Plan?
An intervention plan is a blueprint for helping a student build specific skills or reach a goal. In other words, it's an action plan.
In general, intervention plans include a goal, intervention strategy, timeline, and progress monitoring method.
What Makes a Good Intervention Plan?
Before you get started building an intervention plan, make sure you have the necessary data! Look at the student's progress across multiple dimensions—academics, social-emotional learning, behavior, and attendance. This can help you make more informed decisions about what the student needs.
Here's a scenario to demonstrate this point:
Allie struggles with reading and acts out in reading class. You know this by looking at her academic and behavior data. However, social-emotional learning (SEL) data shows that Allie is also reporting a low sense of self-efficacy—which is how much students believe they can succeed in achieving academic outcomes. Together, this data paints the story that Allie is acting out in reading class in order to avoid having to read.
Instead of prescribing a standard Check In, Check Out (CICO) behavior intervention for Allie, you may instead decide on delivering an intervention called “Breaks Are Better”—a modified CICO intervention that helps students take breaks rather than engage in unwanted avoidance behavior.
In addition to being data informed, good intervention plans are measurable and time-bound. You'll want a clear way to measure if the student is progressing, and a plan for how long you'll deliver the intervention.
The goal is to reach a decision point at the end of an intervention plan. Maybe the student has met their goal, and you can close out their intervention plan. Maybe the student is progressing, but the intervention should continue. Or, maybe the current intervention plan isn't working and it's time to rethink the strategies in place.
(Want to learn more about intervention planning and progress monitoring? Take Panorama's free MTSS certificate course.)
How to Write an Intervention Plan
1. Identify the student(s).
Which student will you be supporting? First, record the student's name at the top of the plan. You might also include additional information such as grade level, gender, or other demographic attributes or identifiers used by your school.
(Keep in mind that you can also create an intervention plan for a small group of students that you're working with. The steps to create a group plan are the same.)
2. Choose an intervention type and tier.
What is the area of focus for the intervention? What subject (or domain) can the student benefit from extra support in? Examples could be English language arts (ELA), math, behavior, social-emotional learning (SEL), or attendance.
Next, specify Tier 2 or Tier 3 depending on the intensity of the intervention. Here is a refresher on the MTSS pyramid:
- Tier 1 is the foundation and includes universal supports for all students.
- Tier 2 consists of individualized interventions for students in need of additional support.
- Tier 3 includes more intensive interventions for students whose needs are not addressed at Tiers 1 or 2.
3. Create a goal for the student's intervention program.
This is when you'll identify specific skills to be developed, or the goal you are looking to help the student achieve.
Remember to frame these in the positive (an opportunity to grow) rather than the negative (a problem to solve).
It can be helpful to use the SMART goal framework—setting a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
For example, to build a student's self-efficacy in math, you might set the following goal: “Charles will be able to complete 80% of his do-now activities at the beginning of each math lesson with the support of manipulatives.”
4. Select an intervention strategy.
With the intervention goal in mind, identify a strategy or activity that could help this student reach the goal. Sample intervention strategies include 2x10 relationship building, a behavior management plan such as behavior-specific praise, graphic organizers, a lunch bunch, WOOP goal-setting, and math time drills.
Your school district may already have an evidence-based intervention menu to pick from. If you don't have one yet, here are a few resources to get started building one:
- How to Build a Tiered Intervention Menu
- 5 PBIS Interventions for Tier 1 to Use in Your District Today
- Small-Group Interventions for Reading, Math, and SEL
- 42 MTSS Intervention Strategies to Bring Back to Your Support Team
- 6 Effective Interventions for Social-Emotional Learning
5. Assign an adult champion.
Who will carry out the intervention plan with fidelity? A teacher? Interventionist? School counselor?
Clear ownership is key. Whether it's one adult or a team, make sure to document who will be responsible for delivering the intervention(s), logging notes, and monitoring student progress.
6. Set a timeline.
Next, set a clear prescription for how often and how long an intervention will take place. Record a start date (when the intervention is set to begin) and a duration (the expected length of the intervention cycle). We recommend five to six weeks at a minimum so the intervention has a chance to take hold.
7. Establish a method for progress monitoring.
You're almost done! The last step in building a great intervention plan is deciding on a data collection strategy.
Once the intervention plan is underway, it's important to collect and record qualitative and/or quantitative data at regular intervals. Many goals are best tracked quantitatively, such as reading level growth or computational fluency. Other goals (behavioral and SEL goals, for example) might be best tracked qualitatively—like making note of how a student is interacting with peers in class. (Learn more about the fundamentals of progress monitoring for MTSS/RTI.)
Don't forget to include the following information on your intervention plan:
- Monitoring Frequency: How often you'll update the student’s progress over the course of the intervention cycle. For example, this could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
- Monitoring Method: The assessment you'll use to track the student’s progress. Indicate a baseline (the student’s most recent assessment score) and target (desired assessment score). Alternatively, you might plan to track progress through observational notes.
If you use Panorama for MTSS: After building an intervention plan, you can monitor a student's progress over time by logging qualitative and quantitative notes. The notes get saved to the student profile so other educators in Panorama can also see how the student is progressing.
Example of a math intervention plan in Panorama (mock data pictured)
Put This Into Practice!
Now that you have the building blocks for writing an effective intervention plan, there's only one thing left to do: put it into action. If you're an MTSS leader or coordinator for your district, we hope that you'll share this process (and template!) with your building-level student support teams. If you are an educator working with a specific student, we hope that this process helps you stay organized as you deliver supports.