Tier 2

What is Tier 2 Support?

The PBIS Triangle—The yellow area represents Tier 2 that supports some students. Tier 1 supports are still used with students engaged in Tier 2 supports.

Tier 2 practices and systems provide targeted support for students who are not successful with Tier 1 supports alone. The focus is on supporting students who are at risk for developing more serious unwanted behavior before they start. Essentially, the support at this level is more focused than Tier 1 and less intensive than Tier 3.

Tier 2 supports often involve group interventions with ten or more students participating. Specific Tier 2 interventions include practices such as social skills groups, self-management, and academic supports. Targeted interventions like these, implemented by typical school personnel, are likely to have positive effects for up to 67% of referred students.[1]Tier 2 interventions are:

  • Continuously available
  • Accessible within 72 hours of referral
  • Very low effort by teachers
  • Aligned with school-wide expectations.
  • Implemented by all staff/faculty in a school.
  • Flexible and based on assessment.
  • Function-based
  • Allocated adequate resources
  • Student chooses to participate.
  • Continuously monitored

Foundational Systems

Tier 2 practices stem from a strong foundation of Tier 1 support. With school-wide systems in place, schools are able to identify which students need additional support.

In addition to Tier 1 systems, the foundational systems involved in Tier 2 support are:

Intervention Team with Coordinator

This team establishes systems and practices for students requiring Tier 2 support. Team members ensure students receive timely access to interventions, oversee implementation, and regularly use data to monitor student progress and evaluate the program’s overall outcomes.

Behavioral Expertise

Team members with behavior support expertise help Tier 2 teams consider the function of a student’s unwanted behaviors prior to choosing an intervention. They keep teams focused on aligning interventions with what will work best for students.

Fidelity and Outcome Data Collection

Regardless of the intervention implemented, it is important to collect and monitor data about student performance. Teams use these data to determine whether to continue, modify, fade, or move on from a student’s intervention. Assessing how closely Tier 2 supports are implemented as intended (fidelity of implementation) ensures student’s get the maximum benefit from the intervention as possible. Two ways to assess fidelity include self-assessment and direct observation. However you collect Tier 2 data, it should be quick and easy.

Screening Process to Identify Students

Schools need a clearly defined, methodical process for considering which students may need additional support. Multiple strategies can be used to identify students for Tier 2 supports. Examples include:

  • Office discipline referrals
  • Screening instrument scores
  • Teacher nominations
  • Parent and support service recommendations
  • Formative assessments.

It is not necessary to exhaust all possible identification methods. No single method is likely to identify all students who need Tier 2 supports. It is recommended schools select and use multiple techniques.

An effective identification process should generate information for students experiencing externalizing (able to be observed) and/or internalizing (directed inward) behaviors.

Access to Training and Technical Assistance

At Tier 2, school personnel need effective professional learning which is research-based, consistent, ongoing, convenient, relevant, and differentiated. Access to training, practice, feedback, and coaching are also important.

Key Practices

Tier 2 practices start with a strong Tier 1 foundation. In addition to these Tier 1 practices, key Tier 2 practices include one or more of the following:

Increased Instruction and Practice with Self-Regulation and Social Skills

Regardless of the intervention, Tier 2 supports include additional instruction for key social, emotional, and/or behavioral skills. An important outcome of Tier 2 interventions is when students can regulate on their own, understand when, where and under what conditions particular skills are needed, and can successfully engage in those skills. Once data indicate a positive response to the intervention, students learn how to monitor and manage their own behavior.

Increased Adult Supervision

Tier 2 supports include intensified, active supervision in a positive and proactive manner. For example, adults may be asked to move, scan, and interact more frequently with some students, according to their needs. This can be accomplished with simple rearrangements across school environments.

Increased Opportunity for Positive Reinforcement

Tier 2 supports target expected behavior by providing positive reinforcement for often. For example, students who participate in a Tier 2 Check-in Check-out intervention engage in feedback sessions with their classroom teacher and other adults in the school as many as 5-7 times per day. Many students view this positive adult attention as reinforcing and as a result may be more likely to continue engaging in expected behaviors.

Increased Pre-Corrections

At this level, another key practice to prevent unwanted behaviors is to anticipate when a student is likely to act out and do something to get ahead of it. For example, specifically reminding students of classroom expectations. These pre-corrections might be gestures or verbal statements delivered to an entire class, a small group of students, or with an individual student. Pre-corrections set students up for success by reminding them, prior to any problem, what to do.

Increased Focus on Possible Function of Problem Behavior

It is important to consider why students engage in certain behaviors in order align Tier 2 interventions best suited to their needs. When they know what motivates students to behave a certain way, teachers can help them find more acceptable alternatives to their unwanted behavior.

Increased access to academic supports

Some students receiving Tier 2 behavior support may need additional academic support, too. Often unwanted behavior serves the purpose of allowing students to avoid or even escape academic tasks that are beyond their skill level. Academic intervention along with behavioral supports may be needed to improve student success.

The Tier 2 Team

In addition to monitoring Tier 2 systems, the Tier 2 team meets regularly to design and refine Tier 2 interventions in the building. The team is responsible for reviewing students referred for additional supports and providing training to families, school personnel, and students regarding interventions. Individuals in the following positions are often included on the Tier 2 Team:

  • Someone to coordinate each Tier 2 intervention
  • School Administrator
  • Behavior Specialist
  • ClassroomTeacher·      

In addition to these suggested roles, committee members also may serve a coaching role to support implementation of Tier 2 practices among staff. Coaching practices include:

  • Understanding and reviewing data
  • Encouraging, teaching, prompting, providing practice, and modeling for school personnel
  • Communicating with stakeholders
  • Distributing information and gathering input
  • Organizing and promoting professional learning


The Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) assesses how closely school personnel apply the core features of PBIS. The TFI includes three separate surveys – one for assessing each tier – schools can use separately or in combination with one another. Schools at every stage of implementation may use the TFI to assess any tier.

Explore the Evidence Base for Tier 2

At its foundation, PBIS is a framework supported by research spanning decades. Study after study confirms the positive impact Tier 2 systems and practices have on improving student outcomes. The evaluation brief, "Is School-wide Positive Behavior Support an Evidence-based Practice?" and "References for the Evidence Base of PBIS" each lay out some of the research and provide additional resources to explore the topic further.

[1]Crone, D. A., Hawken, L. S., & Horner, R. H. (2010). Responding to problem behavior in schools: The behavior education program. Guilford Press.