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Minnetonka Schools Student Support Process

The following sequential four steps of the student support process are completed in all
situations, whether addressing large groups (district or school-wide), smaller groups
(grade level or classroom), or individual children.

1. Problem Identification, entails accurately identifying the problem and the desired
behavior for the student(s) experiencing academic or behavioral difficulty.
2. Problem Analysis, involves analyzing why the problem is occurring by collecting
data to determine possible causes of the identified problem.
3. During Intervention Design & Implementation, evidence-based interventions
based upon data collected previously are selected or developed, then
4. Lastly, evaluating the effectiveness of the interventions utilized is paramount in a
student support process. This fourth step is termed Response-to-Intervention. It
is in this fourth step that a student’s or group of students’ response to
implemented intervention is measured so that staff may evaluate the
effectiveness of the instructional efforts.

Step 1: Problem Identification

What is the problem?

Step 4: Response to the Intervention Step 2: Problem Analysis

Is it working? Why is it occurring?

Step 3: Intervention Design

What are we going to do about it?

Problem Identification

During the first step, Problem Identification, the problem is stated in objective,
measurable terms as the difference between what is expected and what is observed. In
this way, a problem can be defined by the following equation:
Problem = Expectation - Observation or P = E - 0

For instance, you may be working with a third grader whose oral reading fluency rate in
the middle of the year is 41 words correct per minute (wcm). The expectation at that
time is 67 wcm, thus the problem = expectation – observation. The problem = 26 wcm.

Expectations can be found in a variety of sources including local norms, normative

standards, criterion standards, peer performance, instructional placement standards,
developmental standards, teacher expectations, school/policy standards, or district
criteria on district level assessments to name a few. The important thing to note is that a
problem cannot be defined without a declared and accepted expectation.

Equally as important, it must be understood whether the identified problem exists for
only one student, a small group of students, or a large group of students. Different
interventions will be necessary to address these different situations. A large group
problem cannot be solved one child at a time. When large group problems are noted,
problem solving is conducted on a large scale and changes in overall curriculum and
instruction are often appropriate interventions. Small group problems result in designing
instruction that is matched to student need delivered in small group settings. If the
problem is present only for one or a very few students, individual student problem
solving occurs.

The definition of the problem must focus on teachable skills that are alterable and
educationally meaningful that can be changed through the process of instruction.

Problem Analysis

Once a problem has been clearly defined by the student support team, the problem
must be analyzed with the goal of answering the question, “Why is this problem
occurring?” During this step, the relevant information known about the problem is
considered, potential hypotheses about the possible causes of the problem are
generated, and information is gathered to confirm or disconfirm the hypotheses. The
gathering of this information is the assessment process in a problem solving model.

When a hypothesis about an underlying cause is confirmed, the intervention is then

linked to the proposed reason that the problem is occurring. The process of problem
analysis leads us to the most likely reason(s) that the difference between expectation
and observation exists and subsequently to an intervention with a high likelihood of

The domains assessed for information to analyze the problem are instruction,
curriculum, environment, and learner. Some of the questions asked are – “Has the child
received instruction in the target skill?”, “Does the curriculum contain the target skill?”,
and “Does the environment support the acquisition and display of the skill?”

The methodologies used to assess these areas are reviewing existing data, interviewing,
observing, and testing.

Most often, this is not a linear process. Frequently, the consideration of known
information, possible causes, and necessary unknown information happens quickly,
nearly simultaneously. Thus, these steps do not always occur in the same order.

Hypothesis generation involves the balancing of known information, possible causes,

and gathering of unknown information in an iterative process that continues until a
hypothesis with a high likelihood of correctness is derived.

The result is a hypothesis and corresponding prediction statement.

The Problem is occurring because _________________________________.

If ___________________ would occur, the problem would be reduced.

Intervention Design

Once a problem has been defined and analyzed, the goal is to take the information
gathered through problem analysis and utilize it to develop an instructional plan that
matches the identified student need. This is accomplished through intervention
design. Identified missing skills are targeted for explicit instruction within a supported
learning environment.

An intervention should be purposeful, planned and grounded in data. It is about making

decisions about alterable variables within instruction, curriculum and the
environment. Student Support teams focus on those modifications in these areas that
will directly impact or alter the targeted behavior.

Instructional strategies that are based on the nature of the defined problem and yield
the most likelihood for success are selected.
A good intervention plan:

 explicitly defines the skills to be taught

 focuses on measurable objectives
 clearly defines who will complete various tasks, (when and how?)
 describes a plan for measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of instructional
 reflects the resources available.

Response to Intervention

Progress monitoring is a methodology for measuring the effectiveness of an intervention.

In order to design an intervention, the problem must have been analyzed adequately. In
order for problem analysis to have occurred, the problem must have been accurately
defined. So, intervention progress monitoring should not occur unless the first three
steps of problem solving have been conducted.

In order to answer the question “Is it working?” information on student performance over
time must be gathered. Since decisions need to be made quickly if they are not
delivering the desired results, it’s necessary that staff gather this information frequently.
Thus, key features of the instrumentation used to collect these data are that they can be
administered frequently and are sensitive to small changes in behavior.

Also important, this information must be plotted on a graph so that trends in student
performance can be visualized (See Table 1). That is, a visible target should be
included to measure progress. Data are used to make important decisions about
whether to continue the intervention, modify it, or change it completely.

Table 1: Student Progress Monitoring Example

Date WCM
15-Sep 10 Reading Progress Montitoring
22-Sep 25 Graph
29-Sep 32
80 65 64
6-Oct 31 62 60
Words Per Minute

13-Oct 42 60 45
42 38
20-Oct 38 40 32 31
27-Oct 45 20 10
3-Nov 55 0
10-Nov 65
17-Nov 62
24-Nov 64 Date
Target 60

If an intervention is not producing the desired results, a first step is to evaluate whether
the intervention plan is being implemented as designed. If not, make adjustments to
ensure that it is. If the treatment integrity has been verified, all the previous problem
solving steps should be reviewed. A mistake may have been made in problem
identification, problem analysis, or intervention design.
If an intervention is not producing the desired results, it does not necessarily mean that
it is the wrong intervention. It may be the right intervention, but the intensity needs to be

Three basic ways to increase the intensity of an intervention are:

1) Reduce the size of the group

2) Increase the amount of time that the intervention is delivered
3) Narrow the focus of the lesson.

These strategies for intensification may be used individually or in combination.

Problem solving is a self-correcting methodology dependent upon instructional
decisions made using reliable data collected frequently.

Problem Solving in Tier 1

 Begins with the classroom teacher determining if it is an individual student

concern, small group, or whole class. Teacher may differentiate to meet need.
 Teacher reviews cum folder and Skyward assessment data
 Consult with last year’s teacher for information about strategies
 Consult with support staff in the building – social worker, behavior
paraprofessional, guidance counselor
 Parent / Teacher conference for individual concerns
 Parents are notified by the classroom teacher regarding concerns
 Grade level team and Student Support Team meetings:
o Teams hold meetings at least monthly
o Together teachers view data of all students of concern
o Teams make decisions about resources
o Teams make decisions about interventions

Problem Solving in Tier 2

 Building level Student Support Team meetings:

o One team per building
o Grade Level Team members refer students to this team when they have
identified students who are not making sufficient progress despite
instruction and supplements that have been provided.
o Student Support Team addresses both Academic and Social Behavioral
concerns following the same process
o Membership is reflective of all school staff, including general and special
education represented
o Efforts made to assess why the problem is occurring
o Only reasons that staff have the power to do something about are given
time for consideration
o Observable measurable goals are written for each problem to be
addressed, and progress monitoring data is collected and graphed for
every goal

o Intervention plans are explicitly documented, and intervention integrity is
assured through direct observation
o Student progress is evaluated based on data
o Typically meet one time per week (about 45 minutes)
o Meetings scheduled at a time when referring teachers can attend (most
often before or after school)
o The district philosophy is to use a strengths based approach in the
problem solving process

Problem Solving in Tier 3

 Child Study Team referral:

o Team will review all prior interventions and data collected on
interventions to determine if the student should be evaluated for
special education
o This team will develop an evaluation plan to conduct more formalized
evaluation in the area(s) of concern and to determine if the student
meets special education criteria