Glossary of Terms
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Curriculum is the content taught to students by educators. This includes what students are expected to learn in reading, math, science, and behavior. There is often a sequence to the curriculum. Florida requires educators to use curriculum that is evidence-based (meaning that it has research showing that it is effective for helping students learn).



Data refers to scores (often numbers or percentages) that reflect a measure of what students are expected to know or do in different areas like reading, math, or behavior at their particular grade-level. Data may include:

  • a score on a reading test (98 words read correctly per minute),
  • a score on a math test (23/32 problem answered correctly),
  • scores on statewide tests (Level 3 in FCAT reading assessment),
  • the number of times a student raised their hand to answer the teacher’s questions (7 times during a 30-minute student observation).

Data are often shown on a graph to show student progress over time. As part of implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) a data-based problem-solving process is used to make decisions about how best to support student learning. In this sense, “data-based” means using students’ scores on certain measures (tests) and comparing their current level of performance to where the level of performance they are expected to be performing at in order to advance to the next grade level. By making these data-based comparison, it allows educators to know how much help or support to provide students in order to ensure they reach their educational goals in a timely manner. Using data, rather than solely relying on adult perception and judgment of student performance, allows for comparisons and discussions of student progress that are objective.



Instruction is another word for teaching. It refers to the different strategies and techniques educators use to teach students skills and information. Instruction can be provided to larger groups of students (entire classrooms) and smaller groups of students (one or two students).

One-on-one instruction:

Small group instruction:

Whole group instruction:



Interventions are the supports provided to student(s) that help them learn (it could include a specific curriculum, a teaching strategy, one-on-one, or small group assistance from a teacher). Interventions are often provided to individual students or small groups of students in order to give them extra help so that they can be successful in meeting their educational goals. The important thing to remember is that the intervention should match each student’s learning needs.


Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

MTSS is a framework that organizes academic and behavioral instruction and supports into different levels, or tiers, based on student need in order to help all students be more successful in school.


Planning/Problem Solving Process

The Planning/Problem Solving Process is a process used by teams of educators and families working together using student data to make instructional decisions in order to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for the student(s).

The process includes 4 steps answering these questions:

  1. Define: What is the problem or goal?
  2. Analyze: Why is the problem happening or the goal not yet reached?
  3. Plan and Implement: What are we going to do about it?
  4. Evaluate: How did the student respond to the instruction/intervention/support?

The cycle is continuous because adjustments to instruction/intervention supports are made and monitoring continues in order to ensure positive student response.


Response to Intervention (RtI)

RtI is the fourth step of the problem-solving process. The first three steps are:

  1. Identifying the problem or goal,
  2. Figuring out why the problem is occurring or goal not being obtained, and
  3. Developing an intervention plan to support the student and address the reason the problem is occurring.

During the fourth step, teams use data to determine how the student is ‘responding’ to the intervention. You may have heard the term RtI previously used to refer to the larger framework, which is now called a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS).


Student Need

Student need is the amount and type of help that a student requires in order to make academic and/or behavioral progress. The degree of student need is determined by reviewing data showing how the student responded to the additional help and is often shown on a graph like the one shown here. The aimline shows the goal where we’d like to see the student perform while the trendline shows where the child is currently preforming. If the child is currently performing below their goal, they are demonstrating a need for additional help and support in order to achieve their goals.



Supports refers to activities implemented by educators to ensure that students can participate in the general curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate. These supports can include behavioral or academic interventions or strategies designed to reduce barriers to student engagement. They are determined by educators through a problem solving process.



Tier 1

The first tier of a multi-tiered framework is tier 1. Tier 1 is the academic and behavioral instruction and intervention that is provided to all students within a school. Another term used to describe tier 1 is “core” curriculum and instruction.

Tier 2

The academic and behavioral instruction and intervention that is provided to students who show a need for help in addition to the instruction and intervention they receive at tier 1. ¬†Another term used to describe tier 2 is “supplemental” instruction or support.

Tier 3

The academic and behavioral instruction and intervention that is provided to students who show a need for intensive and individualized help that is provided in addition to tier 1 and tier 2. Another term used to describe tier 3 is “intensive” instruction or support.