Evolution of Intervention

Every principal has wrestled with the master schedule while trying to develop the best possible solution for intervening to assist struggling students.  Faced with a list of unsuccessful student assessment results and the ability to make many different choices, what is the optimum intervention structure to facilitate student success?


Understanding that ideally all intervention would successfully take place in the regular classroom setting, the following is a list of ideas I have tried and the degree to which they have worked.

Choice 1:

  • Place all of the struggling students in the same class but give them the best teacher.


  • This choice failed on many levels.  Little student improvement and increase in teacher dissatisfaction. I don’t need to elaborate on all of the reasons why this kind of “tracking” does not work for struggling students.

Choice 2:

  • Assign students to extra classes for the subjects in which they did not meet the assessment standard the previous year


  • Limited student success with this choice, but the intervention was broad based and not prescriptive to individual student needs.  Without any ability to exit from the extra class, many of the students lost any incentive to perform.  Finally student discipline became an issue for many of the students who only needed limited assistance but were forced to stay in the class and work on concepts they had already mastered.  Some students also need so many “extra” courses that they lose all elective choice.

Choice 3

  • Pull students out of Electives throughout the day to work on tested subjects.  Pull students with similar weaknesses in order to make the intervention as targeted as possible.


  • While very successful with many of the students as far as test performance it is detrimental to the student in the sense that they lose valuable class time in electives.  In the high school, it is unworkable as students are unable to meet their class attendance requirements.  Finally many of the students need so much assistance that they would have to miss all of their elective time.

Choice 4:

  • Create an intervention period in the master schedule for prescriptive, immediate, incremental intervention for struggling students


  • This method is the most effective and avoids many of the negatives of the other choices. Targeted or prescriptive intervention is the most beneficial to individual students.  Students only receive intervention if they need it and then only on the concepts they have not mastered.  Students not needing intervention are either enriched, or allowed to work on choice activities.  I would like to thank @btmerrell for sharing this idea with me many years ago.

What are your intervention plans or methodologies that are improvements on these four options?