So you have consulted with your child's teacher. They have tried some interventions in the classroom, but your child continues to struggle academically or behaviorally. You write to the teacher, or perhaps the principal, asking for additional support. The likely next step will be an invitation from the school to attend a meeting to discuss your concerns. These meetings go by many names depending on your school or district.
The meeting may be called:
MTSS - Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
IAT - Intervention Assistance Team
RTI - Response-to-Intervention
SST - Student Success Team
Any other mysterious acronym I may not have mentioned here!
I have found that many parents do not know what they're walking into for these meetings, even well-informed parents. Here's the scenario. There will likely be your child's teacher, a building administrator (principal), an Intervention Specialist, a School Counselor, and perhaps a School Psychologist or Mental Health Specialist (depending upon what your concern was) all sitting around a conference table when you walk in. This can be intimidating as a parent, almost feeling like you are on trial. Try not to let that bother you. You are there to advocate for your child. All of these people care about your child too.
The first thing the school team will do is to ask you to talk about your concerns. The next step should be to create a building-level intervention plan. Unfortunately, this is the step where many school districts are inconsistent with their planning and execution.
The building-level intervention plan should include:
Identification of behavioral or academic skill deficit(s) to address that are specific to your student
What evidence-based intervention the district will be using to address the identified skill deficits
WHO will be providing the intervention, how often, and in what setting
Baseline data for the identified skill deficit to assist in goal setting
The measurable goal to track your child's progress
The timeframe the team expects the child to meet the goal within
Designated responsibilities for the School, for the Parent/Guardian, and for the Student to help them reach their measurable goal
Statement regarding how progress will be monitored (what data will they use to track it?)
Some building-level plans will also include informal accommodations. Accommodations are not interventions!! Accommodations change the environment in some way. For example, they may allow a student to have preferential seating in the classroom, close to the board or teacher, to avoid distractions. An intervention, on the contrary, teaches a skill. An accommodation changes the playing field. An intervention provides explicit teaching to improve your skills to catch up with your peers. Many districts and teachers will try to provide only accommodations in their building-level plan. You must advocate for the specific, evidence-based interventions for your child. Accommodations may help improve grades and academic performance, but they will not make up for skill deficits.
Next Week: Part 3 - Section 504/Accommodation Plans