STUDENT SUPPORT TEAM HANDBOOK

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1 STUDENT SUPPORT TEAM HANDBOOK

2 DOUGHERTY COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM BOARD OF EDUCATION Members Ms. Carol Tharin Chair (District 4) Lane Price, M.D. (At Large) Mr. Robert Youngblood (District 1) Mr. Milton Griffin (District 2) Ms. Velvet Riggins-Wood (District 3) Rev. James Bush. (District 5) Mr. Darrel Ealum. (District6) Interim Superintendent Dr. David C. Mosely Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Ufot Inyang SST Handbook Developed by: DCSS District RTI Coordinators Dr. Subrena Glenn, Elementary Dr. Marva Woodly-Ross, Secondary District RTI Task Force Members and/or SST Handbook Reviewers: Dr. Dianne Boges, Director of Special Education Dr. Gwendolyn Taylor, Assistant Director of Special Education Dr. Sonia McKenzie, District Secondary Math Coordinator Mrs. Cassandra Sampson, District Secondary Language Arts Coordinator Ms. Dwala Nobles, RT3 District Coordinator Dr. Narkisa Howard, Assistant Principal, Lamar Reese Elementary School Dr. Jaqueline Thomas, Assistant Principal, Morningside Elementary School Ms. Yvette Simmons, Assistant Principal, Sherwood Elementary School Ms. Angelina Gibson, Science Instructor, Robert Cross Middle School Ms. Stephanie Hart, Language Arts Instructor, Robert Cross Middle School Dr. Christina Ford, Assistant Principal, Albany Middle School Dr. Jeffrey Ross, Assistant Principal, Albany High School Lindsey Hayes, Research Associate, American Institute for Research for the Nation Center on Response to Intervention Revised January 2015 It is the policy of the Dougherty County Board of Education not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, national origin,

3 gender, sexual orientation, disability, or religion in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 The Student Achievement Pyramid of Interventions..2 Student Support Team Defined..3 Student Objectives Outlined by the Georgia Department of Education.3 Inception of the Student Support Teams.4 Dougherty County s Student Support Teams..4 Exception to the use of the SST Process.5 Tier 3/SST Members and their Roles..5 Tier 3/Student Support Team Driven Learning..8 Student Support Team and Behavior..9 Time and Frequency of Tier 3/SST Intervention(s)...9 Delivery Times of Tier 3/SST Intervention(s) 10 Tier 3/SST Progressing Monitoring Guidelines.10 Tier 3/SST Initial Referral and Meeting Procedures.11 SST Decision-Making Flow Chart.13 Tier 3/SST Key Points to Consider 14 Tier 3/SST Sample Meeting Agenda and Minutes Guide..16 Tier 3/SST Support Teams Model for Problem Solving..18 Dougherty County s Procedures for Referrals to Tier 3/SST 19 Procedures for Parent s Request for Special Education Evaluation..19 Procedures for Speech and Language Evaluation.20 SST Referral for English Learners..21 Procedures for Schools Receiving Outside Psychological Evaluation..21 Frequently Asked Questions about SST 23 Appendix 26 Glossary of Term...41 References.44

4 Introduction Student Support Team (SST) Goal Our goal, in the Dougherty County School System, is to ensure that every student whom we serve successfully participates in the general education classroom. To ensure that we reach our goal, we utilize the framework entitled, The Student Achievement Pyramid of Interventions, crafted by the Georgia Department of Education. The Pyramid of Interventions consists of four layers of instruction referred to as Tiers. These tiers of intervention are delivered on a continuum that increases in the intensity of instruction to address student s academic and/or behavioral need(s). Tiered interventions are implemented in the general education setting and documented by the appropriate classroom teacher or school personnel. However, Tier 2 and 3 interventions are supplemental instruction implemented through school-wide programs in addition to the standards-based Tier 1 classroom instruction. This pyramid of interventions provides the general education teachers and appropriate staff members the ability to deliver research-based interventions to struggling students in a timely manner. If students do not achieve success in Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions, then Tier 3 research- based interventions are implemented through the formal Student Support Team (SST) process. The Tier 4 instruction was developed specifically for students who require specialized instruction that cannot be provided in the general education classroom alone. The purpose of this handbook is to delineate the SST process and procedures in the Dougherty County School System. Page 1

5 The Student Achievement Pyramid of Interventions Increasing Intensity of Intervention TIER 4 SPECIALLY DESIGNED LEARNING Targeted students participate in learning that includes specialized programs, increased progress monitoring, adapted content, methodology, or instructional delivery & common core access/extension. Decreasing Number of Students TIER 3 SST DRIVEN LEARNING Targeted students participate in learning, in addition to Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions by including: Individualized assessments (formative and summative), and interventions tailored to individual needs, increased frequency of progress monitoring, and a referral for a specially designed instruction if needed. TIER 2 NEEDS BASED LEARNING: Targeted students participate in learning; in addition to Tier 1 and different by including: formalized processes of intervention and increased frequency of progress monitoring. TIER 1 STANDARDS-BASED CLASSROOM LEARNING: All students participate in general education learning that includes: Implementation of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and the Georgia Performance Standards through research-based practices to include differentiation of instruction and frequent progress monitoring. 2

6 Student Support Team Defined The Student Support Team (SST) is defined in Georgia Board Rule The Student Support Team (SST) addresses academic, behavioral and/or social-emotional concerns. The Student Support Team process is embedded at Tier 3 of a 4 Tier Response to Intervention (RTI) organizational framework for instruction delivery. SST is a Tier 3 activity on the Georgia Student Achievement Pyramid of Inverventions. At Tier 3 levels, data collection is needed to assess the effectiveness of the interventions and the student s response to the interventions. SST Objectives Outlined by the Georgia Department of Education In order to ensure that all students attain their maximum academic, social, and emotional potential, the Dougherty County Student Support Team will: Provide a systematic process for responding to student problems through an immediate, efficient in-school approach. Establish a better flow of communication among professional personnel within the school setting. Provide opportunity for all professional personnel to increase their skills in successfully working with students who have special learning and/or adjustment difficulties. Plan, implement, and document alternative strategies and interventions for meeting the needs of students at risk. Provide an environment in the general education setting with which the learning and/or adjustment needs of individual students may be met. Page 3

7 Inception of the Student Support Team The inception of the Georgia SST Committee began with the federal lawsuit of Marshall vs. Georgia in It focused on the disproportionate placement of minority students in Special Education. Although the state won this case, a major finding about the Georgia Educational System was revealed. It was discovered that there was no standard process for students to obtain individualized help in the general education setting for learning or behavior difficulties. Instead, the route to such help usually led to placement in Special Education setting. This frequently included the student being removed from the general education classroom. As a result of this case, it is mandated by the State of Georgia that a Student Support Team be established in every Georgia public school, K-12 (see the Georgia Department of Education Student Support Teams Structure and Process Manual 2011). Dougherty County s Student Support Teams Each school in Dougherty County School System shall develop a Student Support Team. The Student Support Team is a collaboration of a multidisciplinary team developed to identify and plan alternative instructional strategies for students prior to or in lieu of a special education referral. Each building level team is composed of educators that include building level administrator(s), classroom teacher, requesting teacher, special education teacher, counselor, school psychologist, special education resource personnel, school social worker, or central office personnel. It is important to include parental involvement because it is a crucial component of the Student Support Team process. The SST team plans for modifications in a student s education program and shall engage in a six step process which includes: (1) identification of needs, (2) assessment, (3) educational plan, (4) implementation, (5) follow-up and support, and (6) continuous monitoring and evaluation. The Student Support Team functions under the auspices of the general education curriculum services. According to the Georgia Department of Education SST guidelines (2011), requests for service for students from the Student Support Team may include curriculum modification, learning style assessment, behavior management techniques, achievement evaluation, home-school communication, or study skill assistance. Requests for special education services may also be made. Prior to consideration for special education referral, pre-referral options should be considered. The interventions used should be documented, described, and discussed at the special education placement meeting. Page 4

8 Exceptions to the use of the SST Process In Dougherty County, there may be individual cases in which initial referral to Special Education may be deemed necessary in lieu of going through the Student Support Team process. These cases are those in which the necessity for special education is so clear that use of nonspecial education options would be non-productive or harmful to the child. In these cases, where initial referrals are not required to the SST, the reasons must be documented (see page 7 of the GADOE SST Handbook, 2011). Also, documentation in the student s record shall clearly justify bypassing the SST process, including whether the parent or guardian agreed with this discussion. Tier 3/SST Members and Their Roles In accordance with the GADOE state guidelines and procedures, the SST should include at a minimum the referring teacher and at least two of the following participants as appropriate to the needs of the student: Building Administrator(s) Provide leadership for the SST process (Building administrators are ultimately responsible for overall success of school's SST) Support staff member's understanding and "buy in "of the SST process Assist staff in understanding the legal implications of the SST process Monitor the SST process to ensure that designated SST responsibilities are met (i.e., implementation of interventions, progress monitoring) SST Chairperson Establish the SST calendar Prepare a written weekly agenda for SST meetings (Agendas will be submitted to all team members at least one week in advance. Team members should receive verbal notification of any emergency cases that have arisen subsequent to the preparation of the written agenda) Invite parent(s) to all meetings Conduct or refer students for vision/hearing screenings (Tier 2) Conduct regularly scheduled SST meetings Maintain SST files, logs, and annual reports Monitor responsibilities designated during SST meetings Consult with building principal if designated responsibilities are not met Scan necessary documents into Infinite Campus Page 5

9 School Counselors Assist in identifying the developmental, social, and emotional needs of students Suggest strategies for addressing student s developmental, social, and emotional needs Interpret school records and test scores Assist in the development of appropriate interventions and strategies to address the identified needs of the students Provide direct support as needed to students using a variety of individual and group counseling strategies. (Some of the areas that may be addressed are school adjustment, academic achievement, educational/career decision making, and personal and social concerns) Assist SST members in developing, monitoring, and revising Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA)/Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) Serve as a liaison with parents regarding resources available to support cognitive and affective growth of students General Education Teachers and/or Referring Teacher Participate and present information regarding student's academic performance, classroom behavior, and social/emotional functioning Discuss interventions and strategies implemented to assist the student Seek practical, appropriate, and specific ways of implementing Interventions/strategies Identify supports needed by teachers to assist student's progress. Collect and provide available data for the monitoring/evaluation of intervention/strategies Assist SST members in developing, monitoring, and revising Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA)/Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) School Psychologists Consultation with team members to address cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of students within the Student Support Team Assist SST members in reviewing background information and data to identify current levels of academic and behavioral performance and set specific goals to improve learning and behavioral outcomes Assist in identification of research-based interventions Assist in specifying how student progress will be measured and in reviewing student response to interventions Interpret psychological evaluation and/or other information pertaining to behavioral or mental health of students Conduct classroom observations to provide data for academic and behavioral interventions Assist SST members in developing, monitoring, and revising Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA)/Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) Provide direct support as needed to students using a variety of counseling strategies and both individual and group counseling (Some of the areas that may be addressed are school Page 6

10 adjustment, school attendance, academic achievement, educational/career decision making, and personal and social concerns) Conduct psycho-educational evaluations to determine eligibility for special education services School Social Workers Identify and assess sources of academic problems, particularly factors in the school environment and community interfering with school success Function as a liaison between families and school regarding the child s educational progress and needs, and encourage positive parental involvement in school activities Gather/review data and implement interventions for attendance issues and other behavioral issues that may impact student performance Assist SST members in developing, monitoring, and revising Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA)/Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) Provide staff consultation on child/adolescent, family, and other issues affecting learning and behavior Provide direct support as needed to students using a variety of individual and group counseling strategies (Some of the areas that may be addressed are school adjustment, school attendance, academic achievement, educational/career decision making, and personal and social concerns) Graduation Coach Supports Tier 3 Team Shares student information Shares knowledge in their field Special Education Teacher Shares responsibilities to collect/present progress monitoring data, student work samples, and other pertinent documentation Supports Tier 3 Team Shares knowledge in their field ESOL Teacher Shares responsibilities to collect/present progress monitoring data, student work samples, and other pertinent documentation Page 7

11 Shares student information Shares knowledge in their field AP/Honors Teacher Provides consultation on Tier 1,2,3 Interventions Supports Tier 3 Team Shares responsibilities to collect/present progress monitoring data, student work samples, and other pertinent documentation Shares knowledge in their field Gifted Education Teacher Provides consultation on Tier 1,2,3 Interventions Supports Tier 3 Team Shares student information Shares knowledge in their field Other personnel with expertise in reading, speech/language, hearing impairments, visual Impairments, physical therapy, occupational therapy, student support specialist, parent facilitator and special education may also be included in SST meetings as needed to: Assess and interpret specialized test results and other data Assist in the integration of specialized data as it pertains to their areas of expertise Provide information relative to specialized strategies and their application in the classroom Provide consultative services to staff Participate in determining need for referral to special education services Provide information about services or programs available to assist students Tier 3/Student Support Team Driven Learning In addition to Tier 1, targeted students who remain below grade level and not making adequate progress may need intense, targeted instruction. These students will receive Tier 3 interventions. The SST/Tier 3 Team activities investigate WHY the student has continued to struggle even with Tier 2 interventions and strive to correct or bypass the problem. Targeted students participate in learning that is different by including: Intensive, formalized problem solving to identify individual student needs. Targeted research based interventions tailored to individual needs. Frequent progress monitoring and analysis of student response to intervention(s). Page 8

12 Student Support Team and Behavior Tier 3/SST interventions should include a more in-depth analysis of a student s behavioral problems which would include a thorough review of all previous interventions and may include a functional behavioral assessment. The Tier 3/SST team may also conclude that additional information is necessary and further assessment may be required (behavior checklists, behavior rating scales, etc.). Academic assessments may also be completed since the potential link between academic deficits and behavior problems cannot be ignored. The approach to behavioral interventions at Tier 3/SST mirrors academic procedures and should provide individualized interventions and progress monitoring. While a student may continue with Tier 2 interventions, a Behavior Intervention Plan may be developed based on the information gathered through a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). Please see Appendix. Tier 3/SST Guiding Questions Is the intervention intensive and formalized to address the individual students needs? Did the team identify the cause for the underlying behavioral concerns? Did the Tier 3/SST evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions? Time and Frequency of Tier 3/SST Intervention Tier 3 interventions should occur at a minimum of three days a week at a minimum of 30 minutes per session. However, this dosage is dependent on the nature of the intervention. For example, if the Interventionist is implementing a scripted intervention program, then the recommendation should be for the Intervention teacher to implement the intervention in accordance with the frequency and duration prescribed by the publisher. Tier 3 interventions should be implemented for at least 12 weeks prior to the referral made to Special Education in the case of Specific Learning Disability (SLD). The 12 weeks of intervention can be a combination of interventions at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels. In addition, intervention plans should be implemented for at least 4 to 6 weeks before changes are made if the student is not making progress or improving as result of the intervention. Use your professional judgment or the guidelines of the prescribed intervention. Moreover, the Page 9

13 intervention group size should consist of small groups with a low teacher student ratio. Tier 3 interventions work best with more intensive small groups of 3 to 5 students per teacher. Delivery Times of Tier 3/SST Interventions Tier 3 interventions may be delivered during the normal school day. These targeted research based interventions should be implemented 3-5 days per week for at least 30 minutes per session. This must be in addition to the tier 1 core curricular instruction. For example, interventions may occur during support classes on the high school level, elective reading and math classes on the middle school level, and during Instruction Learning Times/ Extended Learning Times at both the elementary and secondary levels. In addition, implementation may occur at the Tier 3 level before or after school. However, these intervention implementation times must be in compliance with Dougherty County s guidelines of 3 to 5 days per week for at least 30 minutes per session Tier 3/SST Progress Monitoring Guidelines Students at the tier 3 level should be assessed on a weekly basis. The purpose of the weekly assessment is to monitor and determine the effectiveness of the intervention(s) that are being implemented through the collection of weekly data points (assessment results). For example, if a student is receiving a math intervention and a reading intervention, two data points would be collected weekly on this student. However, in terms of commercial based interventions progress monitoring guidelines should be adhered to as prescribed. Page 10

14 Tier 3/ SST Initial Referral and Meeting Procedures Prior to the first Tier 3/SST Meeting First Tier 3/SST Meeting 1. The Referring teacher completes SST Referral form and submits Referral form to SST Chairperson. 2. The SST Chairperson schedules meeting inviting parent/guardian, required members and additional members as needed. SST Chairperson Designee enters student information in the Tier 3/SST Log. 3. The SST Chairperson sends out parent notification letter with student. It can also be mailed home (See Appendix). 4. Gather additional information about the student, his/her performance strengths and area(s) of needed support, background information, etc. Tier 3/SST Team members meet to: 1. Analyze information about the student. Utilize the Tier 3/SST Checklist, student's performance strengths and area(s) of needed support, background information, and other pertinent information. 2. Analyze and review Tier 2 interventions and data results from the Tier 2 RTI Intervention and Progress Monitoring sheet. 3. Develop Tier 3 Intervention Plan a. Collaborate to identify no more than two specific interventions to utilize with the student. b. Include a timeline detailing how long the intervention(s) will be implemented and dates for progress monitoring. Length of intervention will vary by case, but most cases will occur over a six to twelve week period. SLD documentation requires a minimum of 12 data points. Intervention should use small groups with a low teacherstudent ratio. Interventions should be implemented at least 3 days per week, for a minimum of 30 minutes in addition to the Tier standards based classroom instruction. Establish dates for weekly progress monitoring for the next 4-8 weeks. Set date to follow up with the team to determine if and when Page 11

15 the next meeting should be held. 4. Complete Tier 3/SST Minutes Summary form. Prior to 2 nd Tier 3/SST Meeting 1. Implement Tier 3 Intervention Plan a. Collect data points to measure progress b. Best practice supports progress monitoring the student's response to the intervention at least once weekly for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. If the student is nonresponsive to the intervention, then make modifications to the frequency, duration, and group size (see the Intensive Intervention Practice Categories Checklist in the appendix). c. Small groups with a low teacher-student ratio should be implemented a minimum of 3 days per week for at least 30 minutes per session 2. Gather additional information requested at previous meeting. 3. Schedule 2 nd Tier 3/SST meeting, notify and invite parents and staff member. Send out on going SST letter to parent/guardian). 2 nd Tier 3/SST Meeting after 4-8 weeks of interventions 1. Evaluate progress; look at graphed data points showing progress or regression. 2. Analyze and review Tier 3 interventions and data results from the Tier 3 Interventions Progress Monitoring Sheet. 3. Decision point: making adequate progress/ not making progress. Follow the procedures listed in the chart on the next page. Page 12

16 SST Decision Making Guidelines Flow Chart Making Adequate Progress 1. If the student IS making adequate progress in Tier3, while also receiving Tier 1 standards-based classroom instruction, hold a Tier 3/SST meeting. At the meeting develop a plan for moving back to Tier 2 for support. Document rationale for decision in Tier 3/SST minutes. Refer to Databased Decision Making Rule in the Appendix. 2. Hold Tier 2 meeting and develop a new Tier 2 Intervention Plan. 3. Implement a new Tier 2 intervention Plan. 4. Monitor progress on interventions. Revisit Tier 2 Intervention Plan as needed, adjust and progress monitor interventions and support. 5. If student doesn t make adequate progress move student back to Tier 3. Not Making Adequate Progress 1. If the student is NOT making adequate progress with Tier 3 interventions indicated by progress monitoring data point & a variety of interventions tried within the given time frame (minimum of 4-8 weeks), hold a Tier 3/SST meeting and make the necessary modifications. 2. Assess Tier 3 Intervention plan and make changes. Frequency, duration, and intervention may need to be more intensive. Refer to the Decision Making Rules in the Appendix. 3. Implement a new Tier 3/SST plan. Collect data and progress monitor. 4. If student continues to not make adequate progress as indicated by a minimum of 12 weeks of data (noting a variety of intervention tried) a referral to Tier 4 Special Education is needed. Complete the Student Support Team Request Form (see appendix ) and the RTI Student Tracking Form Referral (see appendix ) Page 13

17 TIER 3/SST Key Points to Consider Determining when an Intervention is Working When to Stop & Check Modifying a Plan Size of Group Utilize the standard Decision Making Rules such as the Turkey Method or the Four-Point Rule. Progress toward the goal is minimal, based on data collected Tier 3/SST members will revise or change the intervention(s) and continue to progress monitor as needed. Intervention plan should be implemented for at least 4 weeks before changes are made. If the student is not making progress, the intervention needs to change. Intervention group size should be small groups with a low teacher-student ratio. Tier 3 interventions work best with more intensive small groups, 3-5 students is ideal. Time & Frequency of Interventions Interventions should be implemented 3-5 days per week, a minimum 30 minutes per session. Commercial program guidelines must be adhered to. Tier 3 interventions are in addition to Tier 1 standards-based classroom instruction. Interventions should implemented for 12 weeks prior to consideration for referral for Tier 4 evaluation if the team is referring for a LD classification. The 12 weeks can be a combination of interventions at Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels. End of School Year, Beginning of School Year Screening Data Movement from Tier to Tier is fluid, based only on data-driven decisions. If a student is receiving support at the end of a school year, the support should be continued at the beginning of the next school year. The Tier 3/SST Chairperson reviews the files and informs the teachers of the existing strategies and requirements for implementation. Data from both school years should be used in determining if a referral to Tier 4 special education is required. The 12 weeks could occur over the course of two consecutive school years; however, the team must have data from the current Page 14

18 Transitioning between schools student moving, 5 th to 6 th grade, 8 th to 9 th grade Parent Involvement Involving School psychologists Involving Speech language pathologists Page 15 school year to determine if lack of progress is still evident. Students in Tier 3/SST at the end of a school year, the Tier 3/SST Chairperson must take the Tier 3/SST files to the feeder school for each Tier 3/SST student. This will ensure a successful transfer of files. Tier 3/SST files are to be included in the student s permanent file in a color coded file. Active parental involvement in the student s plan is encouraged. Parental notification and invitation to Tier 3/SST meetings is required. School psychologists should be an integral part in the Tier 3 decision-making process and provide knowledge on intervention(s) to utilize in the area of identified support. They can share their expertise in assessment and interventions. Moreover, they look at data as far as reliability and validity in terms of data collecting. Involve SLP s when the educational performance including academic, social, emotional or behavioral development is impacted by speech or language impairments. Speech Interventions Tier 3/SST Interventions should be implemented 2 days per week for a minimum of 20 minutes or to address the individual student needs. Consider Special Education Evaluation Behavioral Data If after educational/behavioral evaluation, analysis, and intervention best efforts at remediation repeatedly fail, then the tier 3 SST must consider that the student may have a disability. At this point, a referral for a special education comprehensive evaluation is appropriate. Twelve weeks of intervention data is needed for a referral. Twelve weeks can be a combination of interventions at the tier 2 and tier 3 levels. Behavioral data that measures the student s response to behavioral intervention(s) should be collected regularly and frequently. Data is used to guide decision making progress as to continue, modify, begin new intervention or fade the existing intervention. When to Continue and/or Move to Tier 2 The student is making progress using Tier 3 interventions for a minimum of 9 weeks. Continue interventions and progress monitoring for

19 additional 6-12 weeks. Develop a Tier 2 plan to transition student to Tier 2. Tier 3/SST Sample Meeting Minutes and Agenda Guide Introductions Have each person in the meeting introduce themselves and give their job titles. Describe the Tier3/SST process (Tier 3/SST is the process through which we document strategies and accommodations in the general education classroom. It is not a special program; it is a problem-solving process.). Explain Parent Rights provided by the school psychologist. Parents should be invited to attend and participate in each SST meeting. Parents may view all documentation in the SST process. Discussion Summary State the purpose of the meeting Strengths Areas of Concern Be specific Review data provided on Initial Student Support Team Assistance form. If the student is an ELL (English Language Learner), what is the influence on language proficiency? Does the student s progress (rate of learning) suggest a lack of exposure? Does the concern have an adverse effect on educational performance or participation in the learning environment? Current Levels of Performance in Academic Classes Standardized test scores (both current/previous look for patterns) Refer to General Profile Sheet in Infinite Campus. School history review Retentions Attendance Student s home environment or other community-based issues that may be impacting school performance Behavior Issues In-school suspensions this year? Previous years? Out of school suspensions this year? Previous years? Page 16

20 Implementation Results Discuss results from screening tests. Discuss effectiveness of previous strategies tried. Based on the data, did the student make progress? Did the student s progress meet our expectations? Do we have sufficient baseline data to develop new strategies? Has the student made sufficient progress and no longer needs assistance from the SST? Review work samples and analyze error patterns. Recommendations and Educational Plan Development Identify suspected cause of problem. Determine if any additional information needs to be gathered and by whom. Develop 3 or 4 accommodations, instructional strategies, and/or behavioral strategies specifically related to the cause of the problem. Specify who will implement each accommodation or strategy. Conclude the Meeting Read summary or review notes to clarify what has been said and what will be done. Set date to follow-up with teachers to determine if/when the next meeting should be held. Provide a copy of the SST Recommendations/Educational Plan to all teachers who work with the student and will share responsibility for implementing the strategies. Page 17

21 Tier 3/Student Support Teams Model for Problem Solving 1. Statement of Problem(s): This stage includes specifically defining, clarifying, and stating the presenting problem or concern. 2. Information Gathering: This stage involves the collection of information to clarify the presenting problem(s) and to develop appropriate interventions and strategies. 3. Development of Research-Based Interventions: All relevant information gathered regarding the student s performance is used to formulate recommendations for alternative strategies to be utilized in an attempt to improve the student s school performance. Strategies and interventions are brainstormed. Responsibilities for the selected interventions are assigned, and expectations for progress are documented. A timeline for follow-up and evaluation of progress is established. Assessment of outcomes should be measurable and observable. 4. Implementation: The Referring teacher will document interventions. The agreed upon interventions are implemented in the student s educational setting for a specified time period. The referring teacher maintains documentation of the results of the intervention. 5. Follow-up and Support: Building administrators and SST members provide follow-up support for the implementation of interventions. The referring person at any time may request support from building administrators and SST members or request that the SST reconvenes for assistance. 6. Evaluation: At the time specified, the referring teacher meets with the SST committee to review the student s progress and the effectiveness (measurable and observable) of the interventions recommended. Depending on the student s progress, the team will recommend additional or alternative interventions which may include seeking assistance from resources within the school, placing the case on monitoring status (if progress is being made), or dismissing from the SST process (if problems no longer exist, progress is being made and continued SST support is not needed) Evaluation of progress is documented. Page 18

22 Dougherty County s Procedures for Referrals to Tier 3/SST (1)Procedures for Parent s Request for Special Education Evaluation Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a parent has the right to request that his/her child is evaluated to determine whether the child has a disability that qualifies him/her for special education services (IDEA Regulations, Sec ). ANYTIME a parent requests in writing an evaluation for a suspected disability or special education placement for their child, an SST meeting must be scheduled within10 days by the SST chair person or designated personnel to discuss the parent s request. The SST Chair should invite the child s teachers, and school psychologist. The chairperson must also send a Tier 3/ SST Invitation letter to the parent reflecting the time, date, and location of the meeting. It is important to have the meeting within ten days of receiving the written request and each person should be given time to prepare for the meeting. When conducting a SST meeting the Chairperson should guide the meeting by discussing the following: Discuss parent s request and concerns for the evaluation. Discuss baseline data addressing the area(s) of concern and establish interventions. Complete the Tier 3 Intervention Progress Monitoring form and update it in Infinite Campus (IC) weekly. Explain that the psychological evaluation would be performed with the intent of determining whether the student demonstrates characteristics consistent with an educational eligibility for special education. Explain that following the completion of the psychological evaluation and the collection of appropriate RTI data, an eligibility meeting will be scheduled within 60 calendar days of the signing of the parent consent for evaluation (PCE) to consider all the data and determine whether the child/student meets eligibility criteria for a special education disability. The psychologist can explain this. Explain that if the child/student meets special education eligibility requirements, an individual education plan (IEP) will be developed to plan for appropriate educational interventions. If a PCE is given, the school psychologist will explain the special education rights to the parent(s). This should be reflected in the minutes. Page 19

23 Please make sure the minutes reflect all in attendance. The minutes form is located in IC. A child must pass the vision/hearing test before a PCE is issued. If a child fails the vision/hearing test, a second test should be given another time during the week. If a child continues to fail the tests, a letter should be sent to the parents. If this happens, please refer the student to the school s social worker to expedite the student's vision/hearing needs. It is very important that parents are given copies of the Tier 3 Intervention and Progress Monitoring forms with the prescribed interventions and a copy of the minutes from the meeting. If the meeting does not warrants a PCE, before leaving the meeting, schedule a follow-up SST meeting within 4-6 weeks to review progress monitoring data. (2) SST REFERRALS FOR SPEECH/LANGUAGE CONCERNS The speech-language pathologist has an important role to play within general education in addressing prevention and early intervention. This occurs when a student appears to be at risk for normal speech and language development. During Tier 1, the speech-language pathologist may serve as a consultant to the teacher, school staff, and parent regarding the normal acquisition of speech and language. This consultation may include the distribution of literature on normal speech and language development and/or in-service presentations to school personnel and parent groups. During Tier 2, the speech-language pathologist may be called upon to: Observe the student in the classroom and/or other environments. Consult with parents, teachers, and other school staff regarding their concerns about the student. Suggest strategies and interventions for teacher s use with students. If a student continues to struggle with normal speech development while receiving Tier 2 Support, a referral to SST may be warranted. During Tier 3, the speech-language pathologist functions as a student support team (SST) member to: Conduct and/or interpret informal screening measures, non-standardized checklists, questionnaires, interviews, or observations. Provide recommendations for targeted interventions or accommodations. Provide follow-up consultation and monitoring of recommended interventions and accommodations. Tier 3 interventions may continue as long as the student makes progress in the development of the targeted skills. If a student continues to struggle with speech and language skills after targeted interventions are in place and documented for a reasonable length of time (as determined by the SST Committee), a referral for a comprehensive to determine special education eligibility may be initiated Page 20

24 (3) SST REFERRALS FOR ENGLISH LEARNERS It is often a challenge for educators to determine if the academic and behavioral difficulties exhibited by the English Learner (EL) are related to learning a new language or a possible disability. Using the tiered approach to interventions can be quite helpful when addressing the unique educational needs of the ELs. The classroom teacher can assist in identifying the student s strengths and weaknesses and offer guidance and discuss whether the student s difficulties are considered excessive when compared to cultural peers. When determining if a referral to SST/Tier 3 is appropriate for the English Learner, the following Questions should be considered. Does the EL have good communication skills in his/her primary language? Does the EL s performance lag behind peers who speak the same language? Does the EL exhibit significant reading difficulties after receiving effective reading instruction? Does the EL continue to exhibit difficulty acquiring basic academic skills after effective English as a Second Language or bilingual education interventions? Does the EL display very little progress with appropriate academic and behavioral interventions in place? Does the EL perform or behave differently from cultural peers? Are the EL s academic and behavioral difficulties observed in primary language as well as second language? Are the EL s academic and behavioral difficulties confirmed by the parent and Does the EL have good English academic proficiency? (4) PROCEDURES FOR SCHOOLS RECEIVING OUTSIDE PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS If parents choose to obtain an independent psychological evaluation at their own expense, the results shall be considered by the school district in any decision regarding the student. Due to its unique problem-solving approach, student support teams are in an excellent position to gain awareness of a student s academic, behavioral, and socio-emotional strengths and weaknesses. Using this process, the student support team generates specific research based interventions to address the individual student s area of weakness. The purpose of this procedure is to provide notice of the protocol when a school receives an outside psychological evaluation. Therefore, when a parent presents an outside evaluation to the local school the following should occur: The SST/RTI Chair should create a file for the student and retain a copy of the summary and recommendations pages. The SST/RTI Chair should psychological services informing them of the receipt of the outside psychological evaluation. The SST/RTI Chair should ensure the outside psychological reaches psychological services Page 21

25 prior to meeting. Psychologists are encouraged to review the report prior to the meeting date. Psychological Services will log the outside psychological evaluation as reviewed, dated, and filed. The SST/RTI Chair must schedule a SST meeting within 10 days to discuss the outside evaluation. The SST/RTI Chair should invite the child s teacher, parent, school administrator, and school psychologist to review the evaluation and discuss appropriate interventions or use as a guide to determine if there is a suspected disability. If there is an indication that the psychological evaluation warrants a consideration for special education, please follow the procedures in this draft SST Handbook for procedures for school district s request for special education. If a parent submits an outside psychological to the ESP office to the director, assistant directors, or placement, the outside psychological evaluation should be submitted to psychological services. The lead psychologist will log the psychological evaluation as received, make a copy of the summary and recommendation pages, to the SST Chair, the appropriate RTI Coordinator, and ensure receipt of specified pages to the local school of record. The SST/RTI Chair will follow the above procedures. Page 22

26 Frequently Asked Questions about SST How does SST relate to the Response to Intervention (RTI) process? SST provides the structure and RTI the process for individualized interventions at the Tier 3 level of supports and interventions. The RTI process should meet the SST state board rule basic requirements. Over time, RTI may evolve into something else, but the SST requirement in Georgia public schools is permanent! What happens when SST addresses a problem? A systemic, collaborative problem solving process is used to generate recommendations that are targeted to the student s learning or behavior problem. These recommendations, which include a specific academic and/or behavior plan, are documented in SST records and provided to the student s teacher(s) and/or others to implement with the student. The team then meets periodically to review the student s progress monitoring data and determine the need for continuing, modifying, or concluding the intervention (e.g., increase time, additional supports). How long is the research based SST intervention implemented? Interventions used should be those that have a proven record of success, supported by rigorous, objective research methods. The length of time an intervention is implemented is typically indicated in the intervention, which specifies the length of time needed for the process to attain reasonable success (e.g., how many weeks, days and minutes are indicated for each intervention based on how it was researched and designed). Interventions must be implemented with fidelity in the way they were designed and researched, following the specific steps of the intervention and reviewing progress monitoring/student response to the intervention. It is vital that progress monitoring is analyzed on a consistent/frequent basis so that the SST problem-solves next steps based on reliable, current data. Should the SST refer students for a hearing/vision screening? This is left to the discretion of the local school system. However, difficulties with hearing and/or vision can have a profound impact on a student s ability to learn. It is beneficial to complete a screening early in the SST process. Any problems should be addressed immediately and the impact of the problem on the student s learning should be carefully considered. Consent is required for any screening or evaluation in which students are singled out from their peers. Hearing and vision screenings given to every student in a particular grade do not require consent and can be used as part of the SST process. Prior to any psychological assessment, passing vision and hearing screening is required. Can the SST refer students for evaluation for special education consideration? Yes, but only after several important decision criteria are met: 1) that reasonable SST interventions of sufficient duration have been carefully attempted, without success; and 2) that the cause of the problem is suspected to be a disability that cannot be resolved without special education services. Interventions to support the student must be continued during the special education evaluation period. Do all referrals for special education need to go through the SST? The state s court commitment (unique to Georgia) was that virtually all referrals should go through Page 23

27 the SST referral process. The exception-- or Bypassing SST --was outlined in the directives from the Marshall Court Case: These cases are those in which the necessity for special education is so clear that use of non-special education options would be non-productive or harmful to the child. In those cases where initial referral is not to the Student Support Team, the reasons therefore will be documented. (Marshall v. GA, 1984) How can local school systems determine the effectiveness of their SST process? Many indicators can show success of the SST process, from parent/faculty satisfaction; to pre/post student performance; to placement rate for initial referrals to special education, i.e., that a high percentage of referrals to special education indeed were found eligible. What factors impact the effectiveness of SST? The most important factor in the success of an SST is the attitude with which school personnel view the process. It is most effective when looked upon as a team process for supporting the teacher and student. The effectiveness is greatly reduced when administrators and/or teachers see the process as being simply a paperwork requirement for special education placement. Secondly, the SST must use a data-driven problem solving process, be well organized and have clear definitions of roles and responsibilities. All participants should be well trained in the process, procedures and legal aspects. Finally, the paperwork should be teacher friendly and efficient while still meeting legal requirements and providing enough information to future teachers and service providers. Ultimately, the success of any SST relies on the foundation of supports at tier 1 and 2. Success is defined by schools analyzing their data to identify school-wide, classroom, and individual student needs and their use of research based strategies and interventions led by ongoing professional learning, coaching, and measurement of student response to these supports. When these are successful, the number of students referred for SST is reduced, which increases the time and opportunity to provide intensive/individualized supports with better outcomes. What incentives can be used to encourage educators to serve on an SST? Schools may want to consider extended year or extended day contracts, a lighter teaching load or fewer administrative duties, PLU credits, and/or stipends. What benefits can accrue to a school from successful SST efforts? An effective SST and RTI are highly correlated with positive school climate and successful outcomes for students. Some benefits of an effective SST often include: higher graduation rate, better test scores, fewer students retained in grade, better attendance (by teachers and students), less teacher turnover, better discipline, ready-made needs assessment on teacher needs, more parent involvement, more successful inclusion of special education students in regular classes, and more. Must parents be invited to all SST meetings held on their child? Yes. The Student support Team Rule requires that parents be invited to all SST meetings held on their child. Must parents give consent for an SST meeting? Although parents must be invited to all SST meetings, they do not have to give consent for the SST meeting to take place or to give consent for the SST plan to be implemented. Every effort should be made, however, to help parents view the student support team process in a positive light and to understand that this process is not a special education placement. Page 24

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