Academic: Tier 1

Tier 1 Overview

A strong academic core is established through effective core instruction provided to all students, including diverse learners. Effective core instruction, based on a high quality curriculum and evidence-based instructional practices, is the foundation for all students and is critical for academic success. RIDE's definition of curriculum is "a standards-based sequence of planned experiences where students practice and achieve proficiency in content and applied learning skills" that serves as a central guide to ensure all students have access to rigorous academic experiences. Curriculum should include:

  • Goals - standards-based benchmarks or expectations for teaching and learning 
  • Methods - instructional decisions, approaches, procedures and routines that teachers use to engage students in meaningful learning
  • Materials - tools utilized to achieve the goals of the curriculum
  • Assessment - the ongoing process of gathering information about student learning

For more information about evaluating educational materials, EdReports, a free, independent and non-profit organization, has reports and ratings by subject, grade level and specific programs in Math, English Language Arts and Science to help educators identify high quality instruction materials. Additionally, RIDE has created a Curriculum List and a Curriculum Visualization Tool to interactively display curricula used across Rhode Island.

In addition to ensuring students have access to high quality instructional curriculum, educators should utilize differentiated instruction and/or universal design for learning (UDL) to support and provide access to core curriculum for all learners.  This should extend further to ensure that materials are also culturally and linguistically appropriate to support diverse learners.  Appropriate accommodations and modifications should also be implemented as needed to support students with IEPs and 504 plans.

Schools should utilize a team-based approach to improving the academic core. This Tier 1 team supports the adults in the building to meet the core academic needs of all students. Teams should focus on improving academic outcomes for all students by systematically and regularly analyzing school-wide data to identify areas of focus and problem solve academic gaps at the school-level. This data includes current academic performance levels through a screener, and can also include other forms of school-wide data such as Surveyworks, school and district report cards, state assessments, Early Warning System data, and PSAT/SAT results. Additionally, grade-level teams may choose to focus on academic data available through screening or common assessments in order to identify strengths and areas of need at a grade-level. When reviewing data with a Tier 1 lens, we do not use student names but rather the percentage of students who are meeting benchmarks or other identified indicators.

Elementary Considerations

It is critically important to use data as early as possible to identify when classroom instruction should be adjusted and when additional supports are needed. Early detection helps to decrease academic gaps in later years. It is also important to consider the K-12 span as a continuum of support for students from the time they enter Kindergarten to the time they graduate from high school. 

Secondary Considerations

As with elementary, it is critically important to use data as early as possible to identify when classroom instruction should be adjusted and when additional supports are needed. At the secondary level, it is also important to focus on additional factors that affect student academic performance, including:

  • Motivation
  • Attendance
  • Pathways to graduation
  • Connections to school through extracurricular activities and relationships with other students and staff

Last modified: Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 1:30 PM