Screening With No Smoke or Mirrors

As we have moved through our behavior RTI process, the big question that came up is how do we identify those students that may be in need of Tier 2 support? As we mentioned before, our Tier 1 supports of "Time to Teach" and PBIS have worked for about 88% of our students. The other 12% have moved on to Tier 2 supports. We identified some of these students with data, but it would be really nice to find those needing Tier 2 support before we start to see behaviors that really disrupt and have adverse effects in the classroom.

We have two ways that we identify students for Tier 2 interventions.  The first is through data.  With the "Time to Teach" program students are given a "Refocus" when they are exhibiting behavior that disrupts their learning or the learning of others.  We track who gets a "Refocus" and why they get a "Refocus" and use this data to help determine who needs Tier 2 intervention.  Through tracking our "Refocus" data, it was very interesting to see that 7% of our students were receiving 78% of the "Refocuses."  So in a given month about 60 "Refocuses" would be given out and 8 of our students were getting between 45 and 50 of these.  It was very obvious to us that these 8 students were in need of further intervention and thus are being provided Tier 2 interventions.  I hope that all this talk about "Refocus" has not been too confusing; the basic premise is that we use discipline data to identify these students.  The tracking of discipline data has really helped us to identify students that are not being successful with our Tier 1 interventions and also enabled us to  identify the specific behaviors that need to be addressed in Tier 2.

So we started by saying that 12% of our students are in Tier 2 and we just talked about how 7% of those students got there, but what about the other 5%? We have another group of students that are in need of Tier 2 interventions and we have identified them through behavioral screeners.  As I mentioned in January's blog, we have screening tools that we use to identify students' behavior that could be detrimental in the classroom.  The goal here is to identify students before we run into problems. Obviously we still have a little work but this was our first year so we will tweak things to better identify students in the future.  We would like to create a situation where we are being proactive rather than reactive with student behavior.  In an ideal world, we would have identified all 12% of our students through screeners and would have been proactive in developing interventions to head off the behaviors before they happened.

So how does this screening process work?  We have two screening tools that we used and they are provided here: Student Internalizing Behavior Screening Scale (SIBSS) and Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS).  We had teachers fill out these screeners for each of their students after the first month of school (we wanted to give teachers a little time to really get to know their students and let the students get settled in so that we start to see their true behavior).  After these screeners were filled out, then we sat down as a staff and determined a cut score for who we think needs Tier 2 support.  This first year was not a very scientific process because we had no baseline data, thus the discrepancy with identifying students as I mentioned above.  As we move along in this process and we get more data, the process of identifying students with the screeners using cut scores will get much more accurate and useful.  To help us get better at this, we will sit down at the end of this year to adjust this cut score based on the scores that we had at the beginning of the year and who was identified later on in the school year for Tier 2 interventions.  Once a student is identified through the screeners, then they are referred to the school behavior team and interventions are selected to target specific behaviors.  This process does take a little time because the teacher does have to fill out the screener for each individual student.  Many teachers have also used this information to address specific problems in their own classroom.  For instance, if a lot of students are showing aggressive behaviors, then the teacher may do whole class interventions or have the counselor do a presentation that addresses this concern with the whole class.

As you can see, we try to take a systematic approach to identifying specific behavior concerns with students and then set up Tier 2 interventions that meet the specific needs of each student.  Is this process perfect? Absolutely not. But have we seen a decrease in behavior that is detrimental student learning? Absolutely yes — and we have the data to prove it!

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