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Building a Real Student Support Team


What if you were able to…

  • anticipate, identify, and intervene with ninety percent of your “at-risk” students in kindergarten or first grade
  • help eliminate students’ self-esteem issues related to failure in school
  • bypass reliance on the observations of overextended classroom teachers for most intervention referrals
  • develop an individual and developmentally appropriate plan to effectively intervene with students by the first semester of kindergarten
  • develop an efficient, systematic, easily documentable Student Support Team/RTI procedure for teachers as well as students
  • significantly reduce your Special Education referrals and greatly reduce the number of non-qualifying referrals

What do schools need besides money?

More important than money, they need the information to make good decisions. We have an education system that demands more of young children than they can deliver developmentally.

The system is demanding academic skills that are not accessible to a child until their motor sensory, visual, and cognitive skills are in place.

Our frenetic lifestyles, work schedules, and testing agendas rob our children of appropriate early learning experiences both cognitively and physically. As a result, we are labeling some students with learning disabilities that, given the right interventions, might never cross the threshold into Special Education.

Teachers are frustrated and dismayed because at least twenty-five percent of their students are not able to do what they are asked academically. They come to a Student Support Team meeting with their concerns. “Student can’t read, can’t spell, can’t do math, and can’t pay attention.” What are we to do? How can the student go to the next grade level without the requisite skills in place? How will they ever pass the standardized tests?

When the Student Support Team initially convenes, most schools have only the information that passes before the classroom teachers’ eyes. As a result, here is what we know: the child may or may not be capable, may not be able to pay attention, may or may not have a stable home life, and that’s about it. Maybe they are dyslexic. Maybe they are ADHD. Maybe they are learning disabled. We have to intervene! What are we to do?

In most cases, schools are trying to help students by simply doing the same things they have already been doing, but doing them more intensely and individually. Sometimes students are placed on computer programs that have the capability for endless repetition. Sometimes it works. Many times it doesn’t due to attention, behavior, or physical factors.

Repetition of the same approach is not the answer. More of the same is not the answer. Unfortunately, if these strategies don’t work, the only remaining alternative in most schools’ arsenal is a Special Education referral.

We have to know more. We have to do more. And we can.


We can affect the culture of a school by training teachers to see the skills and abilities of each individual student. There is no better way for teachers to understand the power and the value of the SOI than to experience an intellectual evaluation for themselves.

The analysis and the insight they gain for themselves by having their own intellectual profile enables them to identify with, and more fully address, their students’ strengths and struggles. The SOI assessment provides the entire faculty and administration with a common understanding, language, and tool with which to plan for an individual student’s success.

Empowering administration with timely, accurate information for decision making within the Student Support Team is key. SOI training and assessments provide educators with an efficient and accurate way to assess the abilities of their students. Using an instrument that is reliable, consistent, and able to be easily utilized facilitates intervention decisions for both students who are significantly challenged as well as those “bubble students” who may not have difficulties that will completely obstruct their academic progress, but may deter them from reaching their full potential.

Enlighten teachers with information that allows them to address each child’s learning style and skill set in an individual manner. This information is then available to them to assist in planning their learning groups and their tiered interventions. Another benefit is the ability to identify strengths in students whose abilities may be obscured by sensory or visual weaknesses. These weaknesses may masquerade as attention or behavioral issues. Once teachers, the front line of education, become empowered by an awareness of these areas, they provide very reliable reconnaissance for students with underlying difficulties.

Enable your intervention team to meet the needs of students by requiring more intense intervention PRIOR to consideration for any special program referral by providing timely, immediate, targeted information that leads to more concentrated, targeted intervention.

Early intervention is important. The SOI “Integrated Practice Protocol” (a system of physical activities) and “Certified Learning” programs often hold the key.

Waiting until a child falters enough to be considered a major concern only widens the gap and assures failure later on as they approach high stakes testing years.

Inform and document extensive Response to Intervention prior to any special program referral, (Tier 3), thereby significantly reducing disqualifications (DNQs) and misidentifications, i.e. ADHD and dyslexia.

Student weaknesses – both intellectual and physical – are able to be addressed in a targeted, strategic manner. Not only does this process provide extensive, orderly intervention records, it also saves the district money in testing and special program referral costs.

Schools can develop a very proven way of addressing Response to Intervention (RTI) through their Intervention Team and have strategically tailored interventions to meet individual student needs.

For the most part, schools have adequate conventional types of intervention. For the most part, they have excellent documentation forms created by competent educators who truly have the interest of the students at heart. But, they are missing the foundational component.


What intellectual and physical skills and abilities does the one student bring with them to the learning table? Are there physical and isolated intellectual issues that form a roadblock to their learning?


written by: Renee Anderson, SOI Systems Senior Program Consultant and founder of EducationPathways

Renee is a 24-year veteran public education teacher in Special Education and Regular Education Intervention. Having attended hundreds of Student Support Team meetings, she is a passionate advocate for student success and using educator’s time in a efficient, effective manner.

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