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Planning for Effective Intervention Blocks

Many schools include in their master schedule time each day to provide instructional intervention, reteaching, or remediation for students who have difficulty mastering academic concepts and require additional support outside of the general education classroom (Canady & Rettig, 2008). When intervention blocks are carefully planned and continuously monitored for efficiency and effectiveness, they can benefit both students and teachers. For example, in a study of elementary students with learning disabilities who received small-group instruction outside of the general education classroom, researchers found that students made the most substantial academic gains when instruction was
  • targeted to a specific skill;
  • provided to small groups of students with similar learning needs;
  • delivered at the appropriate pace;
  • coupled with performance feedback and opportunities for repeated practice;
  • delivered by an educator with the knowledge and skills to teach the evidence-based practices; and
  • designed to routinely monitor student progress and intervention effectiveness (Averill, Baker, & Rinaldi, 2014; McLeskey & Waldron, 2011).

Averill et al. (2014) provide a framework to guide the planning, monitoring, and effectiveness of an intervention block. Before planning intervention blocks, educator teams can use the checklist below (see Figure 1) to assess the strengths of their existing intervention programs (questions answered “yes”) and draw attention to areas that need improvement (questions answered “no”). Once they have identified these areas, the intervention team can then prioritize the needs and create a plan for achieving the desired outcomes of the intervention block.

Guiding Questions Yes No
1. Has a team to lead implementation been formed?    
2. If applicable, have regular meeting times for the team been established?    
3. Has an inventory of resources with their availability and effectiveness (e.g., assessment data, instructional and intervention resources, general and special education staff, location of intervention delivery, time for collaboration) been created?    
4. Has instruction in the general education class (Tier 1) been adjusted to meet the needs of students? Consider the following: 

a. Identify practices that have been successful for students with disabilities.
b. Identify ways to increase the use of these practices.
c. Determine how these practices will be used for students who are not reaching expected levels of performance.
d. Identify ways to share these practices with other educators (peer observation, content teaming, unpacking the standards, vertical planning).

5. Have general education classroom supports been identified?    
6. Has the leadership team identified how the instruction provided in the intervention block supplements and aligns with the general education curriculum?    
7. Are there structures and systems in place to support this block and the allocation of human resources (e.g., a master schedule)?    
8. Has time been scheduled for teachers to collaboratively interpret and discuss student data?    
9. Has the match/gap between available resources (e.g., teacher assignment, intervention, strategies, assessments) and student needs been identified?    
10. Have additional resources (e.g., professional development, materials, aligning resources, scheduling) been identified?    
11. Is there a plan for how to meet the need for additional resources?    
12. Is there a plan for the professional development required to increase staff capacity to provide instructional support/interventions?    
13. Have the most qualified staff members been identified and assigned to support the intervention block?    
14. Has the time in the intervention block been structured (e.g., routines, procedures, grouping, peer work, independent work, physical space)?    
15. Have the essential practices that will be implemented in the intervention block been identified?    
16. Is there a checklist of the necessary steps of these practices to support fidelity of implementation?    
17. Is there a plan to monitor fidelity of implementation and provide feedback (e.g., self-reflection, observation)? Consider the following: 

a. Determine monitoring frequency, based on teacher need assessed by observation and progress monitoring data.
b. Use the checklist for teacher reflection and peer and supervisor observation.
c. Collaboratively review data periodically to identify resource and professional development needs to increase teacher capacity or restructure intervention time.
d. Ensure that instruction/intervention supplements and aligns with the general education curriculum.

18. Have the criteria for skill mastery, for changing the strategy/intervention, and for intensifying instruction been identified (i.e., have decision points for entry into and exit out of the intervention block been established)?    

Figure 1. Checklist for effective use of intervention block time (adapted from Averill et al., 2014).

Intervention blocks are one way educators can help to improve academic outcomes for students with disabilities and other students who need additional academic support. Carving out this time in the master schedule makes it possible for students to receive additional support without missing important instruction in the general education classroom. Using the checklist helps to create a clear structure for all teachers and ensure that the time is maximized to benefit students.


Averill, O., Baker, D., & Rinaldi, C. (2014). A blueprint for effectively using RTI intervention block time. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(1), 29-38.

Canady, R., & Rettig, M. (2008). Elementary school scheduling: Enhancing instruction for student achievement. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

McLeskey, J., & Waldron, N. (2011). Educational programs for elementary students with Learning disabilities: Can they be both effective and inclusive? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 26, 48-57.

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