About

About TIER

Tiered Interventions Using Evidence-Based Research, or TIER, is a project funded by the Texas Education Agency. Our goal is to provide educators, caregivers, and other educational stakeholders with the knowledge and materials to ensure appropriate implementation of multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) in every school across Texas.

We have developed a series of modules that focus on different components of MTSS. Within each module, you’ll find more specific pathways. A pathway includes a presentation with handouts. For more information or to participate in a pathway training, visit the Certified TIER Trainers page to find your region's certified trainers.

Contact us at TIER@meadowscenter.org.

two children sitting at a desk reading books

The Researchers Behind the Project

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to work collaboratively with the Texas Education Agency on TIER. Our TIER team has worked with educators, local education agency personnel, education service center personnel, caregivers, school psychologists, researchers, and other educational stakeholders from across the United States to develop the TIER materials.

Sarah Powell

Dr. Sarah Powell
Sarah is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She conducts research and teaches classes related to best practices for teaching mathematics to students with learning difficulties. Currently, Sarah conducts an MTSS project in middle schools in Central Texas and helps districts across the United States implement MTSS in mathematics. Sarah also works collaboratively with the National Center for Intensive Intervention to provide free MTSS resources to educators across the country. Sarah works with all the TIER team members to ensure that the project is successful.

Dr. Genise Henry

Dr. Genise Henry
Genise is the project director for the TIER Network at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She supports the development and dissemination of information about best practices related to academic and behavioral interventions. Her background in education spans Pre-K to 20, offering expertise in leadership and coaching, professional learning, program evaluation, research, equity, and diverse student populations. Genise is a certified teacher, principal, and school superintendent. She has authored or co-authored book chapters and published articles on topics related to theory and practice working together and school leadership.


Jennifer Schnakenberg

Dr. Jennifer Schnakenberg
Jennifer is the chief operating officer at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER). In addition to her work on TIER, Jennifer is the principal investigator for the Texas Reading Academies, for which MCPER was approved by the Texas Education Agency as an authorized provider. She also serves as the project director for Project BASIC, a research grant through the Institute of Education Sciences investigating the integration of academic and behavioral supports for students. Jennifer provides high-quality, research-based professional development and technical assistance at the national, state, district, and campus levels to build capacity and support implementation of evidence-based and sustainable instructional practices.

Dr. David Barrett

Dr. David Barrett
David is a project manager for The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. David has worked in education and counseling for more than 25 years, serving as a special education teacher, school counselor, and administrator. David has partnered with schools and districts across the country supporting systemwide implementation of evidence-based practices in academic and behavioral instruction and intervention. For TIER, David oversees the development of the Behavior, Mental Health, and Communities modules and leads communication with network members.


Dr. Thea Woodruff

Dr. Thea Woodruff
Thea currently writes content for TIER’s professional development modules through her position at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. Additionally, through her work at The University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling Mental Health Center, she collaborates with faculty members to embed wellness practices in their classrooms. She also lectures at the university. Her previous work includes writing the Texas Literacy Achievement and Reading to Learn Academies for kindergarten to grade 5, directing English/language arts for Del Valle Independent School District, and helping lead the Texas Reading First Initiative. Through these and other endeavors, Thea has provided extensive support to Texas educators in research-based reading and writing instruction and response to intervention.

Leslie Bernal

Leslie Bernal
Leslie Bernal is a field trainer/analyst at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. Leslie is currently leading the development of the TIER needs assessment and provides support for the development of Canvas courses, the website, and the cadre of trainers. Leslie has dedicated the past 7 years as a classroom teacher and advocate for students with special needs. Leslie has partnered with schools to provide guidance and support in the implementation of evidence-based practices for academic instruction and intervention.


Dr. Dominique Williams

Dr. Dominique Williams
Dominique is a senior field trainer/analyst at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. In addition to her work that focused on behavioral and mental health supports with TIER, Dominique is an interventionist for Project BASIC, a research grant through the Institute of Education Sciences investigating the integration of academic and behavioral supports for students. Dominique has worked with a plethora of school districts to provide comprehensive school physical activity program trainings as well as strategies on how to increase access to healthy food and beverages in schools. Dominique provides support and technical assistance to schools within Austin Independent School.

Dr. Julie Schmal

Dr. Julie Schmal
Julie is a senior field trainer/analyst for The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. For TIER, Julie has assisted with developing modules, a needs-assessment tool, on-demand courses, and coaching protocols. Throughout her career, Julie has supported teachers, coaches, and administrators to build capacity and improve student outcomes. She has 8 years of experience developing and presenting a variety of professional development sessions and support resources and has provided extensive coaching support to teachers at the elementary and secondary levels.


Jenny Stone

Jenny Stone
Jenny is a senior field trainer/analyst at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk whose current involvement in TIER includes editing TIER content, monitoring the Texas Behavior Support Initiative, and assisting with the development of a needs-assessment tool. Before joining the TIER team, she worked on projects focusing on data-based decision making and reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. In her former professional life, Jenny taught high school Spanish for 15 years.

Dawn Filer

Dawn Filer
Dawn Filer has 18 years of experience in creating professional development for leaders, providing technical assistance for state grants, and managing events from intimate team-building seminars to large professional development workshops. Dawn has been with The University of Texas at Austin for the past 10 years in various roles supporting educators. She is a certified secondary English teacher whose role is to support the multi-tiered system of supports framework in coaching and professional development.

Elena Rodriguez

Elena Rodriguez
Elena Rodriguez is a TIER Associate focused on TBSI, Behavior and Mental Health. She also supports TIER’s work with the cadre of trainers, Canvas course development and coaching. Elena has worked in Texas public school systems with both youth and adult learners. She is an experienced trainer whose areas of focus include English as a Second Language, Family and Community Engagement, Social and Personal Competencies, and Equity. Most recently, Elena trained in and led professional development opportunities focused on mindfulness and self-care. Elena holds a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Vanessa Cockroft

Vanessa Cockroft
Vanessa is a field trainer/analyst at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She is currently leading the cadre of trainers framework, which focuses on the training and certification process for TIER. She has experience in program management, curriculum writing, and professional development. Vanessa has been an educator for 17 years and has dedicated her career to supporting the achievement of English learners in Texas schools. She has served as an ESL teacher, ESL specialist, and district LPAC and ESL Coordinator. She holds a master’s degree in Foreign Language Education from The University of Texas at Austin.