Intensive Intervention & Special Education

Students with disabilities who receive special education can significantly benefit from the DBI process. This is because it can enhance the quality of special education services by providing teachers a systematic data-based process for:

  • Providing specially designed instruction based on student need,
  • Writing ambitious but realistic individualized education program (IEP) goals,
  • Evaluating progress toward IEP goals,
  • Intensifying specialized instruction for students who are not making adequate progress, and
  • Planning for the whole child.

Furthermore, DBI also provides schools with a validated approach for identifying and supporting students with severe and persistent learning and behavior problems, including students who may require special education. This is because the data collected through the DBI process can assist teams in assessing the need for specialized instruction, which is one of two requirements for determining eligibility for special education. In addition, data collected through the DBI process can support special education teachers in more accurately developing present levels, goals, and specialized instruction and support that will be included in the initial IEP. Without data from the DBI process, the development of the initial IEP can be hindered by a lack of data about previous progress, which may delay the timely provision of truly targeted and individualized instruction, as well as a lack of information about successful and unsuccessful approaches to intervention.

Students with disabilities who require DBI are likely to be the most successful when it is implemented as part of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS). When implemented within a larger school-wide MTSS, students with disabilities are able to receive intensive intervention through DBI while ensuring access to aligned Tier 1 instruction and supports as well as Tier 2 intervention in other areas of identified need.

Tools and Resources Related to Special Education and Intensive Intervention

Related Resources


PROGRESS Center Website


Is Intensive Intervention Special Education? Defining Services for Students with Disabilities


At what point should a team consider referring a student for special education services?

See more



A 2017 Supreme Court decision ruled that schools must demonstrate that students with disabilities are making meaningful progress. The DBI process provides a validated approach for doing just that. Learn more.