Tier 3 interventions address the needs of the 3–5 percent of students who either:

  • Received Tier II interventions with fidelity but continue to engage in levels of challenging behavior that interfere with their academic and social progress in school 
  • Have been identified through a screening to need individualized, intensive interventions 
  • Have experienced trauma recently or still significantly impacted by the trauma
  • Engage in extremely aggressive or dangerous behaviors to self and/or others at a level of intensity above that of Tier 2

The defining features of Tier 3 interventions include (a) a greater level of intensity relative to Tiers 1and 2 and (b) a specifically designed intervention to address the function of the behavior and simultaneously teach a replacement behavior.

Because all students impact school climate, Tier 3 interventions promote positive school climates by ensuring that the students with the greatest support needs receive a level of support that allows them to thrive in school. Tier 3 interventions should positively impact school climate by maximizing the extent to which these students participate academically and socially in school. Interventions should focus on teaching and strengthening pro-social behaviors that will benefit the student long term, while simultaneously decreasing challenging behaviors in the short term. A positive problem-solving approach assumes that challenging behavior is an indication of a mismatch between the needs of an individual student and the conditions of their educational environment (Dunlap, Harrower, & Fox, 2005).