The MTSS Dilemma—Differentiate at the Grade Level or Remediate at the Student Skill Level?
I do a great deal of consulting in middle schools and high schools across the country helping them to add value to their multi-tiered system of supports by aligning (a) curriculum and instruction with (b) assessment and intervention with (c) staff expertise and school resources directly to (d) students’ skill gaps and proficiency needs.
Sometimes the biggest initial change is to help schools realize that they have adopted approaches based on principles, practices, and decision rules that are not psychoeducationally, psychometrically, or scientifically sound—even though they came from “experts” who appear to be “expert.”
Many times, sustained success with academically struggling and social, emotional, and behaviorally challenging students requires a comprehensive school psychological perspective versus one dependent more on educational leadership, teaching, counseling, or special education.
This is not a competition among specializations. All teams need dedicated professionals working together.
This is about the “game plan.”
Without a good game plan, many talented teams do not accomplish—on (errr, in) the field—what they should accomplish given their talent "on paper."
Or, metaphorically: While an effective hospital operating room requires a host of effective, coordinated, and talented professionals, the operation is successful based on the strengths of everyone understanding their roles in accomplishing the mechanics—the science-to-practice—of the surgery.
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When Secondary Students Have Academic Skill Gaps
A continuing theme, in my secondary-level consultations, is the instructional dilemma that occurs when students transition from elementary to middle school—or middle school to high school—and they haven’t mastered the prerequisite academic skills to succeed at the next grade level.
While this occurs most often in the areas of English, reading, and literacy, or mathematics, calculation, and numeracy, we sometimes forget the impact on students’ learning when they are also unprepared to effectively write or to communicate verbally at their grade levels.
And then there are the “lateral effects” when students’ low literacy or mathematics skills negatively impact their learning and performance in science, the social sciences, or in other transdisciplinary areas.
In Part I of this two-part Blog series, we will discuss (a) the options available to schools to address these students’ needs; (b) how to determine which options are needed; and (c) how to courageously recognize (and enact) the one option that schools most avoid.
In Part II, we will review and apply the results of two national research studies, published this week, that address the impact of teaching secondary students—who are significantly behind in their foundational math skills—in grade-level courses or in skill-level courses.
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Students with Significant Academic Skills Gaps: Connecting Their Needs to Closing-the-Gap Options
From a multi-tiered perspective, a data-based problem-solving process is needed to quantify, analyze, and hopefully close any academic gaps that occur at the secondary level when students come with elementary-level skills. Just like the diagnostic process that a doctor completes when you are sick—before prescribing the medicine and other facets of your medical intervention—data-based problem-solving is a necessity if we are going to implement effective, high-probability-of-success academic interventions.
Unfortunately, many schools have some data, but it is descriptive and not diagnostic data. And then they use these data to inadvertently play “intervention roulette”—throwing “interventions” at problems without really knowing the root causes as to why they exist.
I am critiquing, not criticizing, these schools. More often than not, they are doing what they were told to do by their “experts.”
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But, critically, at the point of intervention, there still are times when schools hit the proverbial “fork in the road.”
This occurs, specifically, when students’ prerequisite academic skills are so low that everyone knows that they have virtually no chance of passing the next middle or high school course.
Here, most schools use one of the following Options:
- Option 1. Schools schedule the “not-ready-for-prime-time” students into their existing course sequences, and teach them at their grade levels— hoping that effective differentiated instruction will close the existing achievement gaps at the same time that the students learn and master the new, course-related content and skills.
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- Option 2. Schools use Option 1—scheduling the “not-ready-for-prime-time” students into their existing course sequences, and then they offer/provide tutors or tutoring (usually before or after school) to supplement the instruction and “close” the gaps.
This, unfortunately, rarely works because (a) the students are too far behind to benefit from tutoring—that is, there simply is not enough time available to close the long-standing gaps; (b) the tutoring is provided by paraprofessionals who do not have the expertise to implement the strategic interventions needed; (c) the tutoring is not coordinated with the general education teachers or aligned to the curricula being taught in the core classes; and/or (d) the student does not attend the tutoring (enough) due to transportation, studying for other classes, extracurricular activities, or simply fatigue, frustration, or resignation.
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- Option 3. Schools “double-block” the students—scheduling them into the existing course sequences while also giving them an additional academic period a day (or less) to remediate their skills gaps.
Here, they are hoping that the remediation period will “catch the students up,” while they simultaneously complete the grade-level courses so they can accrue their credits. But many times, the teachers teaching these two separate courses do not communicate, the curricula and interventions are not coordinated, and the students still do not have the skills to pass the grade-level course.
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- Option 4. Here, schools “double-block” the students, but the students have the same teacher for both blocks. This allows the teacher to follow the grade-level course’s syllabus, but s/he can spend time remediating students’ prerequisite skills gaps so they are prepared for and can learn and master the grade-level course material.
In addition, this also gives the teacher the time needed to adapt his or her instruction for students who require, for example, (a) more concrete and sequential instruction, (b) more positive practice repetition, or (c) assistive supports or accommodations to learn the material.
In reality, based on their data-based student analyses, schools may be well-advised to have Options 1, 3, and 4 available in order to maximize the learning and mastery of different students with different learning histories and instructional needs.
For example, while Option 2—Tutoring can be effective for students with narrow skill gaps, these Options will not work for students with significant academic skill gaps.
[For Option 3,obviously, schools need to coordinate the curriculum, instruction, and interventions in order to attain the strongest student outcomes.]
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But to determine the need for any of these Options (including Option 5 below), and to fully prepare for their implementation, effective schools typically complete and pool the data-based student analyses by March or Aprilbefore the next academic year. This gives them the time to judiciously coordinate the services, supports, courses, instructors, and scheduling needed by same-grade groups of students.
While making the recommendation immediately above (even as March is still six months away), I understand that all schools have too many immediate and long-term needs already on their plates. . . and that some colleagues may dismiss this recommendation as either unrealistic or not (currently) a high priority.
But I would respectfully suggest that many of my colleagues’ immediate and long-term needs already center around the academic, behavioral, attendance, or graduation status of the students that we are discussing.
Moreover, I know (because we have facilitated this in schools nationwide) that this recommendation can be accomplished when schools recognize the importance of personalizing their instruction and intervention, and evaluating and upgrading their multi-tiered systems of support.
But this all requires strategic planning, staff readiness and flexibility, and effective resource management. And, this can be accomplished in the next six months.
For small, budget-stressed, and/or staff-limited schools, I also understand the challenges embedded in the recommendation above. But when the data-based problem-solving process is used, at least we know the cumulative student skill gaps that are present, and which groups of students need what approaches.
At this point, we realistically connect as many “dots” as we can—maximizing existing resources, and impacting as many students as possible. We then plan for the additional dots that we will connect the next year.
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Middle Schools, High Schools, and Stark Realities
Critically, in our experience, middle schools (if they choose to take it) have more flexibility to “schedule around” their students, staff, and courses than high schools—especially when the latter are not allowed (usually, by their state education codes) to give course credit for “remedial” courses.
Indeed, if middle schools know the academic and behavioral status of their rising 6th graders in April or May, they can align their students, staff, and courses to flexibly meet the needs of different clusters of students—from those entering with significant academic skill gaps, to those whose academic skills already exceed the 6th grade courses they might “repeat.”
With all due to respect, on behalf of the students with significant skills gaps, here is a stark reality: Middle School credits don’t count.
That is, if middle school students with significant academic skill gaps “pass” their courses, but do not master the “elementary” and “middle school” skills that they need, we have simply passed the “problem” on to the high school “to solve.”
The recommendation, then, is to focus on foundational academic skills (in literacy, math, oral expression, and written expression), and students’ mastery of those skills. And if—for students with significant skill gaps—we need to go “backwards to go forward,” or to go “slow in order to go fast,” then do it.
The Mission: Prepare these students in middle school for high school. Gaps in information and content can always be addressed as long as there are no gaps in foundational skills and mastery.
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But there are comparable “stark realities” in high school when students with significant skills gaps are present there. . . leading up to an Option 5:
- Just as many students do not complete their college programs in four years, perhaps some students need more than four years of high school in order to learn and master the skills and content needed to be college and/or career ready.
Indeed, for states and high schools that are moving to competency-based academic systems (e.g., New Hampshire), this is a natural outcome.
[Parenthetically: These systems also produce “three-year graduates” who are ready for dual-enrollment courses or college because they have demonstrated their comprehensive high school proficiency by their junior years.]
[Also, parenthetically: The reason why some college students need more than four years to graduate is because they are taking remedial courses during their freshmen years to make up for their high school deficiencies.]
[Finally, parenthetically: Why is it that some states have no problem retaining students in Grade 3—when they have not mastered their reading skills, and yet they “penalize” high schools when they do not graduate their students in four years?]
In the final analysis, as in Middle School, “passing” courses and “graduating” from high school is irrelevant if students do not have the summative academic and related skills to truly succeed at the “college and/or career level.”
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So . . . Secondary Schools Need to Consider Option 5
Given the discussion above, middle and high schools need to consider (and the U.S. Department of Education, and the respective State Departments of Education, need to allow) an Option 5.
Option 5 is for students who have no chance of passing their next middle or high school course even using Options 1, 3, or 4 above—because their prerequisite academic skills are so low. This appraisal is based (see below) on objective, multi-instrument, diagnostic skill gap analyses of each struggling student—conducted at the relevant secondary school level.
Thus, the school’s multi-tiered system must include (a) a data-based problem-solving process to determine the root cause(s) of the students’ learning and/or skill gaps; and (b) an Option 5 configuration where the instructional and intervention approaches needed to close the respective students’ skill gaps can be delivered with integrity and intensity.
Critically, for students who do not have a disability and, therefore, who do not qualify for services through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP; IDEA) or a 504 Plan (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), Option 5 may be the best option.
What is Option 5?
Option 5 involves scheduling students into a course (or a double-blocked course) in their academic area(s) of deficiency that targets its focus and instruction on the students’ functional, instructional skill level. That is, the course takes students from their lowest points of skill mastery (regardless of level), and moves them flexibly through the each grade level’s scope and sequence as quickly as they can master and apply the material.
This should be an instructional—not a credit recovery or computer/software-dependent—course with a teacher qualified both in instruction and intervention.
Moreover, this is the students’ only course in the targeted academic area, and the course instructors are responsible for making the content and materials relevant to the grade level of the student, even as they are teaching specific academic skills at the students’ current functional skill levels.
Thus, students are not concurrently taking a grade-level course in the same academic area (as in Options 1 through 4 above). In addition, the teachers in these students’ science, social science, or other courses also know the students’ current functional skill levels—differentiating their instruction as needed, while providing additional supports, so that the students’ areas of academic weakness do not negatively impact their learning in these “lateral” courses.
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For example, if a group of rising 9th grade students have mastered their math skills only at the beginning fourth grade level, their Option 5 math class for that quarter, semester, or year would begin its instruction at the fourth grade level of the state or district’s preschool through high school math scope and sequence, and progress accordingly as a function of their learning and mastery.
The students would not concurrently take a 9th grade math course, and the Option 5 teachers would be responsible for making the math content and materials relevant to a 9th grade learner, even as the mathematical skills are being taught at a 4th grade level.
In reading, the Option 5 teachers would use, for example, high-interest (9th grade content and focus)/low vocabulary (4th grade) books, stories, or materials so that the students can build their vocabulary and comprehension skills in a sequential and progressive way.
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A Deeper Dive on Which Students Would Benefit from Option 5
There are a number of possible (combinations of) reasons why rising-secondary students transition from elementary to middle school—or middle school to high school—without the prerequisite academic skills to succeed at the next grade level. These reasons are identified through the data-based root cause analysis process that begins by collecting information that chronicles each individual student’s current status and past educational services, supports, programs, interventions, accomplishments and experiences.
Indeed, at the beginning of a root cause analysis for an individual student, the initial information-gathering activities are called the “First Things First.”
These first activities include:
- A synthesis of the existing academic and behavioral assessment data (e.g., grades, office discipline referrals, attendance and tardies, classroom-generated work samples and curriculum-based assessments, interim and norm-referenced assessments, and state and national benchmark proficiency tests) that determine the current functional status of the student.
This information is compared and contrasted with where the student should be functioning—given his or her age and current grade level—to determine the skill gaps in different areas.
This information also helps to estimate the student’s learning rate or speed of skill acquisition and mastery over time. If, for example, a rising 9th grade student has consistently made 7 months of academic progress for every 10-month school year from kindergarten through Grade 8, it should be no surprise that the student almost three years behind (9 school years X 3 months = 27 months or 2.7 school years).
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- The completion of a Cumulative Record Review that integrates the student’s entire educational history into longitudinal charts and summary tables.
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- Interviews with parents or guardians to collect information and their perspectives on the student’s past and present physical, developmental, familial, medical, social, emotional, behavioral, and academic status. This might include the completion of a formal social-developmental history interview, and adaptive behavior or clinical behavior rating scales.
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- Interviews with previous teachers, intervention specialists, or related services professionals to add their data and information to the student’s history, as well as to identify previous interventions tried and their results.
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- A medical assessment to factor in or out any physical, organic, genetic, neurological, biochemical, or other physiological condition(s) (including vision, hearing, diet, exercise, sleep, nutrition, or allergies) that impact or impede the student’s learning or the behavioral correlates to learning (e.g., attention).
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- Observations of the student in his or her classrooms—both where s/he is having difficulties, and where s/he is successful, and in other relevant settings to assess the student’s behavior, as well as the interactions of both teachers and peers.
The information from the First Things First help to identify a student’s (a) strengths, skills, assets, and existing supports; (b) weaknesses, skill gaps, limitations, and negative life events and circumstances; and (c) educational history and experiences, including the quality of past teachers and instruction, the presence of sound curricula and interventions (when needed), and the engagement and motivation of the student when present in school.
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Focused then on determining why a student’s specific skill gaps exist, the root cause analysis typically continues by completing diagnostic assessments on how the student best learns, and functional assessments targeted to confirming (or rejecting) hypotheses that similarly relate to past, and that now relate to predicting present, student learning.
For students with significant academic skill and mastery gaps at the secondary level, the most common root causes include the following:
- There were significant instructional gaps during the student’s educational history such that the student did not have the opportunity to learn and master essential academic skills.
This includes, for example, students who were (a) home-schooled, (b) had new teachers who were unprepared to teach, (c) had long-term substitute or out-of-field teachers for lengthy periods of time, or (d) were in classrooms with too many different student skill groups for the teachers to effectively teach.
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- There were significant curricular gaps during the student’s educational history such that the student did not have the opportunity to learn and master essential academic skills.
This includes, for example, (a) schools without the appropriate evidence-based curricula or curricular materials to support teachers’ goals of effectively differentiating instruction; (b) schools where teachers—at the same grade level—were teaching the same content but with different algorithms, rubrics, or skill scripts that were then not reinforced by the next year’s teachers—especially as they “inherited” a mix of students who were taught specific skills in vastly different ways; or (c) schools that adopted grade-level curricula that were not aligned with state academic standards, and that did not articulate with the curricular expectations at the next grade level.
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- The schools, attended by the student during his/her educational history, had an absent, inadequate, or ineffective multi-tiered system of supports that did not address his or her academic needs.
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- The student was taught, over a long or significant period of time, in a school or classroom where the relationships or climates were so negative (or negatively perceived by him/her) that they impacted his/her long-term academic engagement, motivation, attendance, and access or ability to learn.
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- The student had known or has newly-diagnosed (due to the root cause analysis) biological, physiological, biochemical, neurological, or other physically- or medically-related conditions or factors that significantly impacted his or her learning and mastery, or the speed that s/he learns and masters new skills.
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- The student had (and may still have) frequent or significant personal, familial, or other traumatic life events or crises that impacted his or her academic engagement, motivation, attendance, and access or ability to learn.
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- The student’s skill gaps created such a level of frustration that the resulting social, emotional, or behavioral reactions by the student (along an “acting out” to “checking out” continuum) overshadowed the original and present academic concerns—resulting in the absence of (or the student’s avoidance of) needed services or supports.
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The vast majority of these root causes point to the fact that students who will most benefit from an Option 5 approach are students who did not have the opportunity to originally learn and master the academic skills that are now embedded in their significant skill gap.
At the same time, many of these student will need additional social, emotional, or behavioral services and supports so that the academic interventions can be successful.
Even more critically, the student’s motivation and positive, active engagement in the Option 5 course(s) and classroom will be a key factor in determining success. This will be especially true at the high school level, when students are confronted with the reality of a four-plus year high school career (which may look worse than dropping out, or going for a GED).
All of this is to say that not all students who could potentially benefit from an Option 5 approach should or will choose it. For Middle School students, the Option involves less student choice, and more “pressure” on the school to keep the students well-integrated with their peers and in other grade-level classes. For High School students, they need to see realistic ways that they can pass their high school courses after or as their skill deficits are remediated.
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A Continuum of Academic Supports and Interventions
From both a prevention and a strategic intervention perspective, schools need to recognize the services, supports, strategies, and interventions available along a multi-tiered continuum.
In a past Blog, we differentiated among services, supports, strategies, and interventions. Relative to the latter, we identified the following key elements of interventions:
- Interventions are intentional and focused on changing an academic or social-emotional skill or behavior.
- Interventions involve a specific program or set of formalized steps required for implementation and proven to effect change.
- Interventions are specific and formalized. An intervention lasts a certain number of weeks or months, is reviewed at set intervals, and has demonstrable short- and long-term outcomes.
- Interventions are implemented with formal evaluation approaches that track and measure students’ progress.
We also provided some examples:
- Tutoring is a service; the specific academic interventions used by a trained and skilled tutor is the intervention.
- Counseling or psychotherapy is a service; the therapy that a psychologist uses (e.g., cognitive-behavior therapy) is the intervention.
- A sensory “time-out” for a student experiencing trauma is a support; the strategies or therapies that a student received to eliminate the need for future time-outs is the intervention.
[CLICK HERE to Link to Blog:
February 16, 2019. Redesigning Multi-Tiered Services in Schools: Redefining the Tiers and the Difference between Services and Interventions
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The point here is that Option 5 will only succeed if the best services, supports, strategies, and interventions are matched to the root causes that explain why secondary students have such significant academic skill gaps.
To expand this discussion, below are the key components of our Positive Academic Supports and Services (PASS) continuum. . . a science-to-practice blueprint that, in the context of the current discussion, is tailored to each individual student’s needs (see the Figure below).
Overview. The foundation to the PASS blueprint is effective and differentiated classroom instruction where teachers use and continuously evaluate (or progress monitor) evidence-based curricular materials and approaches that are matched to students’ learning styles and needs. When students are not consistently learning and mastering academic skills after a reasonable period of effective instruction, practice, and support, the data-based, functional assessment, problem-solving process is used to determine the root causes of the problem.
Results then are linked to different instructional or intervention approaches that are organized along the following PASS continuum:
- Assistive Supports involve specialized equipment, technologies, medical/physical devices, and other resources that help students, especially those with significant disabilities, to learn and function—for example, physically, behaviorally, academically, and in all areas of communication. Assistive supports can be used anywhere along the PASS continuum.
- Remediation involves strategies that teach students specific, usually prerequisite, skills to help them master broader curricular, scope and sequence, or benchmark objectives.
- Accommodations change conditions that support student learning—such as the classroom setting or set-up, how and where instruction is presented, the length of instruction, the length or timeframe for assignments, or how students are expected to respond to questions or complete assignments. Accommodations can range from the informal ones implemented by a classroom teacher, to the formal accommodations required by and specified on a 504 Plan (named for the federal statute that covers these services).
- Modifications involve changes in curricular content—its scope, depth, breadth, or complexity.
Remediations, accommodations, and modifications typically are implemented in general education classrooms by general education teachers, although they may involve consultations with other colleagues or specialists to facilitate effective implementation. At times, these strategies may be implemented in “pull-out,” “pull-in,” or co-taught instructional skill groups so that more students with the same needs can be helped.
If target students do not respond to the strategically-chosen approaches within these three areas, or if their needs are more significant or complex, approaches from the next two PASS areas may be needed:
- Strategic Interventions focus on changing students’ specific academic skills or strategies, their motivation, or their ability to comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate academic content and material. Strategic Interventions typically involve multidisciplinary assessments, as well as formal Academic Intervention or Individualized Education plans (AIPs or IEPs).
- Compensatory Approaches help students to compensate for disabilities that cannot be changed or overcome (e.g., being deaf, blind, or having physical or central nervous system/neurological disabilities). Often combined with assistive supports, compensatory approaches help students to accomplish learning outcomes, even though they cannot learn or demonstrate specific skills within those outcomes. For example, for students who will never learn to decode sounds and words due to neurological dysfunctions, the compensatory use of audio or web-based instruction and (electronic) books can still help them to access information from text and become knowledgeable and literate. Both assistive supports and compensatory approaches are “positive academic supports” that typically are provided through IEPs.
While there is a sequential nature to the components within the PASS continuum, it is a strategic and fluid—not a lock-step—blueprint. That is, the supports and services are utilized based on students’ needs and the intensity of these needs. For example, if reliable and valid assessments indicate that a student needs immediate accommodations to be successful in the classroom, then there is no need to implement remediations or modifications just to “prove” that they were not successful. In addition, there are times when students will receive different supports or services on the continuum simultaneously. For example, some students will need both modifications and assistive supports in order to be successful. Thus, the supports and services within the PASS are strategically applied to individual students.
Beyond this, while it is most advantageous to deliver needed supports and services within the general education classroom (i.e., the least restrictive environment), other instructional options could include co-teaching (e.g., by general and special education teachers in a general education classroom), pull-in services (e.g., by instructional support or special education teachers in a general education classroom), short-term pull-out services (e.g., by instructional support teachers focusing on specific academic skills and outcomes), or more intensive pull-out services (e.g., by instructional support or special education teachers). These staff and setting decisions are based on the intensity of students’ skill-specific needs, their response to previous instructional or intervention supports and services, and the level of instructional or intervention expertise needed. Ultimately, the goal of this effective school and schooling component, and the PASS model, is to provide students with early, intensive, and successful supports and services that are identified through the problem-solving process, and implemented with integrity and needed intensity.
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This Blog focused on the instructional dilemma that occurs when students transition from elementary to middle school—or middle school to high school—and their academic skill levels are so low that (a) they have no hope of learning or succeeding in the courses at the next grade level, and (b) their skill gaps are so significant that the different remedial options that most schools use will not close the gaps.
During the discussion, the four Options that most middle or high schools use to address this dilemma were described—noting their differential strengths and weaknesses, and how schools miss (or ignore) the fact that these options will not address these students’ significant needs.
We then detailed a number “stark realities” that we summarized in the following ways:
If middle school students with significant academic skill gaps “pass” their courses, but do not master the “elementary” and “middle school” skills that they need, we have simply passed the “problem” on to the high school “to solve.”
Moreover, if these students “pass” courses and “graduate” from their high schools without mastering the academic and related skills needed to truly succeed at the “college and/or career level,” the schools have not accomplished their educational mission and a disservice has been done to the students.
From a multi-tiered perspective, then, the goal is to complete (a) a data-based problem-solving process that links the results of a root cause analysis to strategic or intensive services, supports, strategies, and interventions; and (b) to consider a fifth option where students are taught at their functional skill and mastery levels, and where they receive the interventions and supports needed to learn, master, and progress through the academic skills needed to ultimately be successful at their true grade levels.
More specifically, this Option involves scheduling students into a course (or a double-blocked course) in their academic area(s) of deficiency that targets its focus and instruction on the students’ functional, instructional skill level. That is, the course takes students from their lowest points of skill mastery (regardless of level), and moves them flexibly through the each grade level’s scope and sequence as quickly as they can master and apply the material.
This course is the students’ only course in the targeted academic area, and the course instructors are responsible for making the content and materials relevant to the grade level of the student, even as they are teaching specific academic skills at the students’ current functional skill levels.
Thus, students are not concurrently taking a grade-level course in the same academic area. In addition, the teachers in these students’ science, social science, or other courses also know the students’ current functional skill levels—differentiating their instruction as needed, while providing additional supports, so that the students’ areas of academic weakness do not negatively impact their learning in these “lateral” courses.
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Complementing the discussion above, the Blog next described the initial information-gathering steps of the data-based problem-solving process, and then the primary reasons why students would enter their secondary school careers with significant academic skill deficits. The Blog finished by outlining the components of the multi-tiered Positive Academic Supports and Services (PASS) system—a science-to-practice continuum of services, supports, strategies, and interventions for academically struggling students.
The ultimate goal for students with significant skill deficiencies is to close their skill gaps with mastery-based learning as quickly as possible, so that they can then learn and master the skills in their grade-level courses and, ultimately, graduate success-ready for college and/or their careers.
While the recommended approaches for these students may be controversial or challenging, with good strategic planning—completed in March or April of the school year before implementation—they can be accomplished.
Indeed, once the data-based problem-solving process is used to analyze these students, at least we then know the depth and breadth of the skill gaps that are present, and which groups of students need what approaches.
At this point, schools can realistically connect as many “dots” as possible—maximizing their existing resources, and impacting the greatest number of students. They, then, can connect the next series of dots the next year... and so on.
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In Part II of this Blog series, we will review and apply the results of two national research studies, published this past week, that address the impact of teaching secondary students—who are significantly behind in their foundational math skills—in grade-level courses or in skill-level courses. This research will reinforce the recommendation in this current Blog, and provide some interesting data for all of us to consider.
Meanwhile, I appreciate your ongoing support in reading this Blog. As always, if you have comments or questions, please contact me at your convenience.
And please feel free to take advantage of my standing offer for a free, one-hour conference call consultation with you and your team at any time.