Is the Intervention Working? or Are We Doing What We Said We Were Going to Do?

When My Child Needs Help-Asking the Right Questions
September 25, 2015
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Is the Intervention Working? or Are We Doing What We Said We Were Going to Do?


Is your child receiving help from a teacher, therapist, or paraprofessional during the school day for academics or behavior problems? Is your child receiving outside tutoring or educational therapy by a private individual or agency? If so, do you know if the intervention is working? Is the intervention being implemented as originally planned. According to Noell and Gansle (2006), a much-ignored due process afforded our children is the right to an assessment of skills and interventions conducted with fidelity-that means with dependability, integrity, faithfulness or loyalty. Implementation fidelity generally means the degree to which an intervention or treatment is implemented as planned, intended, or originally designed (Gresham, 1989, 2004). How do we know where we are going and how will we know we have arrived without a plan?

Unfortunately, developing a plan, implementing an intervention, and measuring the child’s response to the intervention can be a challenge in our busy and, at times, chaotic world (Keller-Margulis, 2012; Mellard, McKnight & Jordan, 2010). Hopefully, if your child has been unsuccessful in learning specific skills and he is being pulled aside for additional academic support, there is a specific plan for getting him back on track. Most schools inform parents about intervention programs in late Fall or Winter after the school has screened students for reading and math difficulties. The school then plans for the students who are at risk, based on their performance on a screening test, to receive additional instruction. The school sets up intervention for certain days, time of day, a specific interventionist, and specific types of instruction. Some schools use computer programs for intervention, small group tutorials, or a combination of both. Whether it is a public school or private agency providing the intervention, good planning should result in a plan for intervention with the following elements:

  • number of days per week/each week the student will receive the intervention
  • number of minutes per session
  • the specific skill to be addressed and type of intervention
  • person implementing the intervention
  • progress monitoring results

In order to be actively involved in your child’s intervention, ask the school or agency if you can review the intervention log of services your child is receiving. The staff member who provides the intervention for your child should be keeping an intervention log of services. The staff member keeps track of how often your child is receiving services, whether your child is attending these services on a regular basis as planned, and how much progress your child is making. Most importantly, this exchange of information provides you, the parent, an opportunity to be actively involved in reinforcing the intervention your child is receiving.

If your school or private service is not keeping a log of intervention services, ask if this is a possibility, as keeping a written plan of services has been shown to increase the likelihood that the intervention will happen as scheduled (Mortenson & Witt, 1998; Sanetti & Kratochwill, 2009).  Creation of a written plan of what we are going to do, who is going to do it, when we are going to do it, and how the child is responding to the instruction is absolutely necessary to meet the critical needs of your child.





Gresham, F. M. (1989). Assessment of treatment integrity in school consultation and   prereferral intervention. School Psychology Review, 18(1), 37-50.

Keller-Margulis, M. A. (2012). Fidelity of implementation framework: A critical need   for Response to Intervention models. Psychology in the Schools, 49(4), 342-352.

Mellard, D., McKnight, M., & Jordan, J. (2010). RTI tier structures and instructional   intensity. Learning Disabilities Practice, 25(4), 217-225.

Mortenson, B. P., & Witt, J. C. (1998). The use of weekly performance feedback             to increase teacher implementation of a prereferral academic intervention. School Psychology Review, 27(4), 613–627.

Noell, G. H., & Gansle, K. A. (2006). Assuring the form has substance: Treatment plan implementation as the foundation of assessing Response to Intervention. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 32(1), 32-39. doi: 10.1177/15345084060320010501

Sanetti, L. M. H., & Kratochwill, T. R. (2009). Treatment integrity assessment in the schools: An evaluation of the Treatment Integrity Planning Protocol (TIPP). School Psychology Quarterly, 24(1), 24-35.