Response to Intervention (RTI) is  a multi-tiered approach for early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The practice involves providing high-quality instruction and varying levels of intervention based on students’ learning.

Tier 1 involves providing  high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. The screening identifies struggling learners.

Tier 2 provides support for students who struggle to meet grade-level performance standards, but who do not qualify for more intense services such as special education. The goal of Tier 2 is to remediate academic skill deficits so that students will be successful in the Tier 1 program without support. Following are interventions associated with Tier 2:

Tier 2: At Risk

  • Supplemental instruction delivered to small groups
  • High student-teacher interaction
  • Explicit teaching of targeted skills
  • Gradual building of skills
  • Frequent  opportunities to practice targeted skills
  • Progress monitoring

Tier 3 provides the most intense level of intervention for students who have not progressed as expected despite receiving small and large group support   Though only a small percentage, these students may require intensive, individualized approaches to learning, before considering Special Education. Educators responsible for intervention sessions require specialized training (e.g. Title 1 reading teacher, psychologist, counselor, special education teacher, therapist, highly trained aide using a scripted program).  The goal of Tier 3 is remediation of existing academic, social, or emotional issues . Following are interventions associated with Tier 3:

Tier 3: Significantly At Risk

  • Systematic and explicit instruction delivered to individual students or to small groups of 2-3.
  • Specialized programming that focuses on a few key skills at a time.
  • Intense, extended intervention, such as a full period of instruction outside the general education classroom
  • More frequent progress monitoring, up to twice a week

BrainPOP and RTI

Instructional strategies and research- based interventions identified at RTI Action Network include the use of differentiated instruction, small groups, cooperative learning, multiple intelligence considerations, graphic organizers, word walls, ELL strategies, and progress monitoring.  To meet the needs of RTI, many school districts across the country provide BrainPOP as part of the intervention and support materials for students.  

BrainPOP provides differentiation by offering a range of diverse products, including BrainPOP, BrainPOP Jr. for primary grades, and BrainPOP ELL for English learners.  BrainPOP is also available in other languages, such as Spanish, French, and Mandarin, thus providing content to native speakers who are not yet proficient in English. BrainPOP products, also available on devices, and with individual accounts, enable students to submit their work on BrainPOP, from quizzes and worksheets to game reflections and concept maps. Teachers can use these digital artifacts for formative assessment, learning about a student’s interest and also making informed decisions about follow up tasks, mixed ability grouping, and approaches for re-assessment. 

Engagement with content is easily individualized with BrainPOP. All BrainPOP topics include multiple features with varying cognitive challenges, from vocabulary activities, graphic organizers, and concept maps to interactive games, reading selections, and drawing and writing activities. Students can engage with the content in varying ways, using different modalities. Additionally, BrainPOP’s Assignment tool enables teachers to assign specific activities to students.

Teachers frequently set up BrainPOP as a center in their classrooms. Small groups of students, partners, or individuals can engage with different activities and features related to the same topic on the computers and devices, depending on their individual needs.  

BrainPOP ELL offers eight interactive features with each animated movie providing opportunities for students to practice the targeted grammar skills and vocabulary using listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities. The program is structured by language proficiency levels, gradually building language skills.

Individual My BrainPOP accounts allow teachers to monitor student progress, an essential component of RTI. Teachers can keep track of students’ work, provide feedback, and even create custom assignments and assessments.


“BrainPOP can be used to target Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels of learning. The animation of BrainPOP movies draws students into the lesson. The program provides lesson ideas for teachers as well as games and quizzes for students. The curriculum is not limited to science; it includes other major content areas: math, health, social studies, English,art, music, and technology.”

— Pam Epler-Brook, Examining Response to Intervention (RTI) Models in Secondary Education,  Information Science Reference, July 2015

“I made a great system with all of the topics BrainPOP had related to the math work we were doing and was able to monitor student progress through My BrainPOP. It was especially helpful for my Special Education students.”;

— Ruby Sheets (Certified BrainPOP Educator), Cypress Hills Community School/P.S. 89, Brooklyn, NY, September 2016