Tier 1 Instruction

High Dosage Tutoring Addresses Tier 2, but What about Tier 1

Yes, high dosage tutoring can be a very effective way to bring students up to grade level. But based on the data, grade level is not what it was before the pandemic, even in the top performing schools.

And it’s not just academics. Most educators are as worried about students’ social and emotional skills. They express deep concerns that students lack age-appropriate self-management skills. They fear students aren’t ready to learn even before they open the book. And most teachers aren’t quite sure what to do about it. If you’re an 8th grade teacher, do you adapt your class to students’ “6th grade maturity level” or hold them to a standard most won’t meet?

In short, tutoring can effectively support students who lag behind their classmates. Tutoring cannot, however, substitute for high quality Tier 1 classroom instruction that must be the primary form of teaching for most students and must make up for lost learning time.

Data-Informed Tier 1 Instruction

We applaud districts using data-driven approaches to identify students’ current needs. Normed achievement assessments are essential to pinpoint which academic skills must be re-taught. Social and emotional screeners can efficiently highlight Tier 1 needs for engagement, mental health, and behavior. (Be cautious if relying on self-report SEL screeners to identify specific students for Tier 2. Most screeners only capture trend-level data.)

Once schools identify gaps, they must prioritize and address them. How should that 8th grade teacher address lagging self-monitoring skills while accelerating academic learning? Who is supporting teachers, coordinating efforts, and monitoring progress across subjects and grade levels?

MindPrint focused much of this year helping schools prioritize Tier 1 needs and implement high-impact schoolwide strategies. We integrated schools’ normed cognitive data with their academic and SEL data. As expected, MindPrint data showed high variability across schools on student strengths, suggesting each school will have a unique path to use a strength-based approach to accelerate learning growth. But there was remarkable consistency across schools’ identified needs. We share these needs below so even schools without MindPrint’s cognitive data can efficiently address academic and behavior gaps in Tier 1 instruction.

MindPrint-Informed Tier 1 Recommendations

Executive Functions.

It probably won’t suprise anyone that students are struggling more than ever to initiate work and stay focused. The ongoing stress of the pandemic probably has a lot to do with the elevated levels of inattention and impulsivity in our data. Hopefully schools will see a return to pre-pandemic levels. For now, it’s important to recognize that inattention is not a challenge adolescents can readily fix themselves. Teachers need to establish classroom cultures that help students focus and foster self-monitoring skills rather than punish lapses.

Simple strategies to stay focused in class can make an enormous difference. They include regularly scheduled stretch or water breaks, chunking lessons into 20 minute blocks, and minimizing likely distractors. These recommendations work best when all teachers use them so students have consistency.


Students are struggling to remember what they learn. They understand new concepts just as readily but the content just isn’t sticking in their minds as well. While there are several reasons this might be the case, what is most important is that teachers realize that students’ need more repetition. MindPrint’s Tier 1 recommendation? Prioritize the most important content for automaticity and give all students plenty of repeat practice to ensure key information sticks. Back it up by teaching students spaced repetition strategies to prepare for assessments.

Flexible Thinking.

While not all schools saw declines in flexible thinking, most did. Finding a single approach and sticking to it might have been an effective pandemic coping mechanism. In the classroom, weaker flexible thinking can affect students in multiple ways. Students might not know how to process feedback, prioritize work, or follow directions. MindPrint strategies will go a long way to address the behavior but teachers’ patience, empathy, and consistency in expectations across classrooms will be critical to helping students understand and improve.

 Learn how to implement MindPrint for your school’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 Instruction. Or ask us. We’d love to talk.

Note: Special thanks to our partners at Ridley School District for crafting the title of this blog. We think they said it perfectly.