Tiering the Task?

artThere seems to be a great deal of attention given to discussing and providing interventions for students who are not achieving as expected. Although I believe that targeted interventions are a necessary step in supporting student achievement, interventions come after the task has been performed. I wonder what would happen to student achievement and the amount of interventions needed, if our focus went to our lesson planning for daily instruction with a lens of “tiering the task”?

Tiering the task is not a new term for me, but a term that I had not heard in quite some time. The sessions I attended the last time I was in Albany, brought this term to the forefront of my thinking. As I listened to the information presented, I began to wonder just what does “tiering the task” really mean? In order to begin to answer that question, we first have to think about the terms intervention and differentiation. Interventions are delivered AFTER the task has been completed (the lesson has been taught), in response to data and student learning. Interventions provide students with another chance to learn a task or portion of a task. Differentiation is planning lessons with student differences in mind in relation to readiness, delivery, and learning goals. Differentiation of lessons is taken into consideration BEFORE the task is attempted by the students. “Tiering the task” is what happens as a result of the differentiation planning. The tiers are the steps that a student will need to take in order to successfully complete a complex and rigorous task. “Tiering the task” means to adjust the process of the instruction while allowing for all thinking and all that an individual student brings to a task. In order to tier a given task the teacher must consider each individual student and the learning outcome of the task. The relationship between the student and the task becomes the vital information needed to adjust the process and take away the barriers that will block the learning.

“Tiering the task” is where the planning for differentiation and the instruction meet. It is the steps that the teacher and the student will take in order to meet success on a more complex task or text. With more focus on intentional planning of lessons and “tiering the tasks”, the need for interventions would decrease.


Litzenberger_Phyllis_WEBPhyllis Litzenberger
OCM BOCES Network Team

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