Tiered intervention in inclusive and special education: history and trends from the United States and Finland

Year: 2013

Author: Jahnukainen, Markku, Itkonen, Tiina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation will explore the similarities and differences of a relatively newly established tiered intervention models for the support of students with special needs in the United States (Response-to-Intervention) and in Finland (Learning and Schooling Support). The current models in both countries consist of three tiers with fairly similar definitions: the first tier is partly preventive and mainly organized by the general education teachers (general support). The second tier is targeted for students at risk or having mild difficulties (intensified support). The third tier is mostly replacing the more traditional special education (special support). Despite the similarities, the history and political meaning of the tiered models is different in these countries. In the United States, the tiered model is a long waited vehicle to provide early intervention also for students without diagnosed disabilities. In the Finnish system, this has been possible since 1970’s, and in the first place the function of the tiered model is to offer more structure to the already existing services and make the role of general education teachers as well as school-wide efforts more visible. However, in both countries part of the underlying political expectations is that the change to tiered intervention will result in the decrease of fulltime special education placements and further in expenditure of organizing the additional support. The implications and challenges of these models in terms of developing the inclusive practices will be discussed.