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Steps – The Four-Tier Model

Tier 1

Tier 1 learners have no particular literacy issues.  They are not struggling, but all learners benefit from a structured, varied approach which builds the processing skills involved in literacy, as well as covering the literacy content itself.

These learners do not need to be on the workbook courses.  They will use Steps as a general support, to enable them to progress quickly and enjoyably, at their own individual speed, and to focus on areas which are particularly relevant to them.

Tier 1 learners may be following one of the set courses, which include grammar, comprehension and vocabulary building.  They may also enter their own individual lists, or be doing topic/subject lists set by their teacher. 

Steps can be used for extension for able learners needing a challenge!

Tier 2

Tier 2 learners are learners who are not particularly behind, but they are learners who may need a little bit extra.  These learners will benefit from extra time on the computer (or at home on Steps) to ensure that they do not fall behind.

Class teachers may prioritise extra time on class computers, or recommend to parents that learners do a bit extra for homework.  These learners may do more of the printable activities from Steps.  They do not need to be on the workbook courses.  However, there is no reason why the workbooks should not be used if they fit into the class routine.  All learners benefit from the extra structure and reinforcement.

Tier 2 learners may be following one of the set courses, which include grammar, comprehension and vocabulary building.  They may also enter their own individual lists, or be doing topic/subject lists set by their teacher. 

Tier 3

Tier 3 learners are those who have been identified as having relatively mild difficulties.  They may be up to a year behind their peers.  These learners should be on the workbook courses, or using Steps to support a similarly structured remedial literacy course. 

Tier 3 learners are likely to benefit from some form of withdrawal, although this may be in relatively large groups because they don’t need very high levels of teacher support.  However, it is important to monitor these learners closely.  The most common difficulty in schools is underestimating a learner’s needs and not providing enough structure and reinforcement.

Tier 4

Tier 4 learners have moderate to high needs.  They may be dyslexic or have other processing difficulties, including developmental delays.  These learners need to be in small groups (ideally no more than 3 learners) and a small proportion may need individual tuition for a period.

These learners need to be on the workbook courses, ideally supported by the game/activity resources (Schools Resource Pack materials).  This is because learners in this category have processing difficulties, including weaknesses in aspects such as phonological awareness, visual perception and memory.  They need considerable reinforcement and this is often best provided through games and hands-on activities. 

The Schools Resource Pack provides a huge range of games and activities which focus on phonological awareness, language processing and memory.  They also build phonic and orthographic knowledge and an awareness of word families. 

Caution:  One of the biggest mistakes with these learners is moving too fast and not checking to ensure that knowledge/skills are being retained!  Each learner has to move at his/her own pace!

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