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Experts corner: Champions for better, wiser Tier 3 instruction

Discover 95 RAP™ (teacher-led Tier 3 instruction for developing readers) and why educators love it. Note: it is proven to help accelerate reading improvement for students, and it also gives teachers valuable data on each student's progress.

95 Percent Group Experts Corner Q & A Insight

The Experts Corner team had an engaging conversation with Sharon Hopper, MEd, senior training & development manager, Krista Jones, MA, NBCT, senior manager implementation & coaching, and Jan Cirillo, MEd, implementation & coaching manager, in advance of our webinar, “Introducing 95 RAP™: A Digital Solution for Individualized Tier 3 Intervention,” happening on Tuesday, September 26.

95 RAP (Reading Achievement Program) is an individualized, small group reading intervention designed for struggling readers who have been intervention resistant. Direct, explicit, mastery-based instruction supports progress in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In January, 2023, 95 Percent Group acquired Hill Reading Achievement Program (HillRAP) from Hill Learning Center, an education nonprofit in Durham, North Carolina that has served students with learning and attention challenges for 45 years. Sharon Hopper, Krista Jones, and Jan Cirillo joined the 95 Percent Group team from Hill Learning Center. (You can read more about the origins of 95 RAP in HillRAP through the Years.)

They will join Laura Stewart, Chief Academic Officer, and Ann Mikkalson, Teaching & Learning Coordinator, Owatonna Public Schools, MN, for an insider’s view of our new, innovative Tier 3 intervention solution, 95 RAP™.

This Experts Corner offers some in-depth background to help you prepare for the webinar.

Who does 95 RAP serve?

Jan Cirillo:

95 RAP is essentially for students who are intervention resistant. It’s for those students who need a Tier 3 individualized, structured literacy solution. These students are not receiving the instruction they need—Tier 1 Core instruction hasn’t worked for them. Hopefully they’ve gone to Tier 2 which is a little more individualized, maybe in larger groups, but still not exactly what they require. Intervention needs to be very individualized, prescriptive instruction for these students. 95 RAP provides them with the individualized, small group Tier 3 instruction they need.

Kelsey Burger, career and technical education coordinator, Poudre School District


95 RAP is for students who are on a first grade through sixth grade reading level. That could be a ninth grader who’s still trying to get to sixth grade reading level. The schedule can be easily applied in elementary, but with careful planning for service delivery, it is a highly effective model for middle or high school students.

Students who benefit from 95 RAP have persistent, language-based reading difficulties. They’re reading about two grade levels below. They may have attention challenges. 95 RAP is designed in short bursts so it can hold the attention and then redirect frequently.

And as Jan said, 95 RAP is a good fit for students who have been resistant to other interventions so it’s a great next step program.

Sharon Hopper, MEd, senior training & development manager

How does 95 RAP fit into the tiers of literacy instruction?


Helping people understand the 95 RAP contribution as a Tier 3 invention in the One95™ Literacy Ecosystem™ is one of the key ideas for the upcoming webinar. We’ll distinguish between the tiers of instruction and explain where RAP fits in the tier structure.

In general, Tier 3 is designed to be that extra level of instruction. It’s more explicit and more intensive. Tier 3 has a smaller class size and it’s delivered generally with a higher dosage. We want to be thoughtful and considerate that Tier 3 students are also Tier 1 students and many times we hope they’re Tier 2 students as well. So you don’t have to be in one or the other. In the most ideal circumstances, Tier 3 students should be in all of those layers of instruction.

We like to say “it’s core plus more plus.” So that would be the goal of this layer of instruction.

We also know that students that are in Tier 3 are going to need many more repetitions than their typically developing counterparts and they’re going to need immediate feedback to make sure that they’re on the right track. In addition, instruction in Tier 3 should utilize simplified directions for students because for students with language-based difficulties and many times with attention challenges as well, it takes a while for them to process what the teacher is asking—they need directions to be very clear, very simple, and short, with less and more precise teacher talk. So we have to be really thoughtful and intentional about how we deliver that language. Those are the key characteristics of Tier 3.

What is the value of data-driven insight and how do teachers apply it to reading?


We’re always collecting data for the teacher, which provides a lift for them that they might not find in other programs where they’re having to track and collect that data and calculate mastery. The 95 RAP app is doing that for them.

Teachers and administrators have data to help them monitor their implementation. They can see how many sessions the teacher is having, and how long they are spending in the session down to how much time they’re spending in each component. That’s beneficial for the teacher to reflect on their practice. Are they implementing for the frequency and duration that we would expect them to? On an administration side, they can see those same things so they can determine if the dosage that they are expecting teachers to provide students is actually happening.

From an instructional side, all this data collection supports 95 RAP’s mastery-based model. Students are always working towards mastery before they move on to the next skill. That’s key for a Tier 3 student.

95 RAP is individualized so that students can move at their own pace. And I think that’s a key difference for RAP from other Tier 3 interventions. It’s the individual nature and the mastery model. Students within the group can move at their own pace.

During the session the teacher is providing that explicit feedback to the students if it’s a correct response or if they need to correct that error. Then after the session, they’re able to go in and look at that data to see: Has that student mastered the skill? Are there patterns in the errors that they’re making? So it really is a time saver for teachers. They don’t have to get their calculator out and figure out, does the student have mastery, should I move on? They know right away. Then they can adjust their instruction for that student the next day.

During the session, if a student masters a skill, the teacher gets an alert on their screen that the student has mastered that skill and what skill they’re moving on to next. I think that piece is really beneficial for teachers, especially if they don’t have a lot of experience in collecting that data or deciding when to move on. Unlike in other programs where they have to just make a decision if they move on or not, with 95 RAP, teachers have clear data to back up the decision that the app is moving on to the next skill for that student.

Kristan Jones 95 RAP


Students have been assessed previously to determine that they are in Tier 3. If the school is already using 95 Percent Group products, they might have used the 95 PSI™ which would provide the team with data to help them. Then we give students a 95 RAP assessment to figure out specifically where their deficits lie. 95 RAP has embedded formative assessment that we use to place students appropriately. We administer a phonics assessment and we also administer a spelling assessment. With the results of these assessments, the 95 RAP app autopopulates content for each student, continuously guiding individualized instruction.

Sometimes we have kids who have gaps in their instruction—95 RAP is designed to find those instructional gaps and begin instruction where we see holes based on the assessment. The instruction from those points forward fills in those instructional gaps and moves ahead with solid instruction in both phonics and spelling to bring students up to the level where they can begin to break the code.


Each student is moving at their own individual pace. So even though they are in a group of 4, they’re moving from gap to gap at their own mastery rate. So as Krista is describing, each individual is going to move forward, which is maximizing their time because we know they’re already behind. And we’re trying to accelerate and not waste any time. It’s also giving the teacher that flexibility to be able to pull students from more than just one classroom or from more than one skill level, because you can have students that are working on a variety of skills within the same group. Those are hallmarks of what really separates RAP and makes it unique.

What is your vision ahead for 95 RAP? The science of reading?


I think we’re in a great time right now where teachers are more knowledgeable about the science of reading than maybe they have been in the past. As we look ahead, I think about how we can build on the knowledge that they already have of the science of reading to really target instruction for students and make sure that the teachers feel empowered to make the instructional decisions that they do need to make. I think sometimes people think that the app is going to do the instruction for the teacher, but it’s just housing the curriculum for them.

As teachers have this knowledge that they haven’t had before, really empowering them to think of how they can make instructional decisions is so important—there’s just never enough time, especially with Tier 3 students. And so maximizing the time that they have with them, and feeling empowered to make those instructional decisions, is really the goal moving forward for me.


Piggybacking on that, my vision is teachers having everything right there at their fingertips so they’re not spending hours making consumables or photocopying. Everything is right there for them. The data is always just a few clicks away. My vision is maximizing accessibility, for both teachers and students.

Can you share any anecdotes on student growth?


We have many implementations across the United States. We have a whole school full of students where the model was originally designed—the Hill School in Durham, North Carolina. Looking consistently at the Hill School and the students that are out in the public schools throughout the country, we’re able to see growth—sometimes a year and a half worth of growth—even with a minimal implementation of our products. I think it’s because they’re teaching just the parts that the students haven’t mastered yet and they are accelerating that growth cycle by doing that. These are students that don’t typically grow even a half a year because our demographic of students are substantially behind their peers. For a student with a language-based reading difficulty like those with dyslexia to grow a year and a half in a year is extraordinary.

We have many examples of that. My daughter is one of those examples. She was virtually a non-reader at the beginning of third grade. After two years of instruction, she is now reading on grade level, and has completed sixth grade at grade level in both reading and writing. She still struggles with spelling as she will continue to do as a dyslexic student. But that amount of growth would not be possible without something that’s really targeted to the kinds of instructional intensity that she needed. It’s basically one-on-one instruction, but in a group of four.

Register for our on-demand webinar!

Your proven Tier 3 digital literacy intervention solution is here! Register now to learn more from our experts at our upcoming webinar. They will take you inside 95 RAP’s most exciting features and give you the best practices you need for your Tier 3 literacy instruction–so that you can unlock literacy for your students who require intensive intervention. Register now.

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