RBI Foundations

Focus Area 1 - Joette Fuller


In the field of education, intervention is defined as a series of step by step teaching procedures that is designed to improve learning or behaviors by providing active engagement to help students become more successful in the classroom. Modifications, accommodations, and adaptations are also types of interventions (Logsdon, 2009). The teaching procedures or intervention systems vary from school district to school district. Common frameworks used for interventions include Response to Intervention (RTI), Mult-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS), and Positive Behavioral Intervention System (PBIS), to name a few. The resources below provide more information on each intervention system and the School Transformation Model.

NCLD's School Transformation Model: Helping ALL Students Succeed

What IS and what IS NOT an intervention.

What IS an intervention.
An intervention is an instrumental procedure that provides positive reinforcements to facilitate learning. According to John Hattie, interventions can have a large or small effect on student performance. The size of the effect is a measure of the success of an intervention, and whether the students reach the desired outcomes (TESE 863, 2016). There are many different kinds of interventions. Some examples of interventions include a plan to help a student stop hitting, or a method to help a student identify numbers 1-10 in a small group instruction class.

Terms that encapsulate what an intervention is:
  • Intentional
  • Guided learning
  • Controlled
  • Inclusive

What is NOT an intervention.

An intervention is not independent learning that is unaccommodating and sedentary. Examples of what an intervention is not may include observations, co-teaching, lectures, homework.

Terms that encapsulates what an intervention is not:

  • Isolated
  • Special education
  • Independent
  • Random
P18 John Hattie Challenging All Students

Differentiate between research-based interventions and evidence-based practices.

An evidence-based practice implements high quality research in interventions or teaching programs that “has resulted in consistent positive results when experimentally tested" multiple times. The quality of the research incorporates experimental, quasi-experimental, or single-subject research designs (Marder & Fraser, 2012). Research Synthesis Organizations and Professional Associations are the two types of groups that determine and identity the level of evidence needed for children to have effective outcomes. A key feature in identifying evidence based practices is the methodological criteria used to select or exclude research studies (TESE 863, 2016).


  • Peer reviewed professional journals
  • Data-based approaches
  • Empirically-validated treatment
  • Clinical practice guidelines.


  • Anecdotal reports
  • Case studies
  • Non-refereed journal
  • Magazines
  • Internet

Research-based interventions are teaching methods that are reinforced by the validity of one or more research studies in order to help improve student achievement. Scientifically-based research uses experimental methods involving detailed data analysis, testing, and justification. The research validity relies on measurement or observation methodology examined by evaluators and experts using objective and scientific analysis (TESE 863, 2016). Examples of research based interventions include scripted programs such as corrective reading, direct instruction, and reading mastery.

To differentiate between the two practices, evidence based studies have been proven effective multiple times, whereas research based studies have been shown effective at least once. In the field of special education, there is a gap between research and practice. Educators are having a hard time distinguishing between evidence based practices and being able to replicate the strategies in the classroom. To help minimize this gap, teachers can utilize the list of questions below to assess whether teaching strategies are evidence-based (Marder & Fraser, 2012).

  1. Has research been conducted to evaluate the specific treatment or strategy? Has that research been published in a peer reviewed journal? Has there been replication of positive outcomes from use of the strategy?
  2. Does the specific strategy include an assessment of the individual student’s current performance followed by implementation of a strategy to improve that performance beyond the baseline rates?
  3. Does the intervention include requirements for data collection and ongoing monitoring of student progress?
  4. What are the measurable outcomes of implementing this strategy? What specific student skills will be addressed?
  5. What are the specific benefits and limitations of using this strategy? Do the benefits outweigh the limitations?

Scientifically based research is a stepping stone by which instructional practices become evidence based. Evidence based practices implement the instruction of the scientifically based research and get put to the test in classrooms (TESE 863, 2016). However, teachers also implement effective practices that help meet students’ needs that are not labeled evidence based. In this case, it is essential for teachers to collect data and measure progress in order to determine the effectiveness of the practice as well as positive outcomes for the student (Marder & Fraser, 2012).

Additional Resources

Evidence-Based vs Research Based Programs for Dyslexics


Logsdon, A. (2009). Learning Disabilities: Interventions. Retrieved from http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/gi/g/intervention.htm?utm_term=educational%20interventions&utm_content=p1-main-4-title&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=adid-d7d14a4f-e640-4934-8dd0-2f5566f44e2b-0-ab_gsb_ocode-35413&ad=semD&an=google_s&am=broad&q=educational%20interventions&dqi=&o=35413&l=sem&qsrc=999&askid=d7d14a4f-e640-4934-8dd0-2f5566f44e2b-0-ab_gsb

Marder, T. & Fraser, D. (2012). Evidence-Based Practice for Special Educators Teaching Students with Autism. Johns Hopkins School of Education. Retrieved from http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Journals/specialedjournal/MarderandFraser

Public Schools of North Carolina. Research-based Interventions and Eligibility for Special Education. Exceptional Children Division. Retrieved from http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/instructional-resources/behavior-support/resources/researchinterventions.pdf

RTIActionNetwork. (2013). NCLD's School Transformation Model: Helping ALL Students Succeed. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKTG1vxKQuo

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. (2014). Evidence-Based vs Research Based Programs for Dyslexics. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbQ9wAtTxlU

Video WRDSB. (2013). P18 John Hattie Challenging All Students. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ivNbPo6QSU