Utilizing the Student Study Team is often a parent’s first step of action when their child is struggling in school. Most school districts use some sort of a student study team (SST) to create intervention plans for students who are not experiencing success. The name of the group may vary from district to district but its function is the same.
The student study team is part of regular education, and is not the same as an IEP or a part of the special education evaluation process.
- The purpose of the SST is for a team of educators, specialists and parents to create a plan for a student who is having difficulty with any component of the school environment. An SST meeting is not a referral to special education.
- The goal of the SST team is to determine if the student is struggling due to a specific learning disability or if it is due to other reasons such as social problems, health issues, or issues at home.
For example, Robbie is having problems in Mrs. Allen’s third grade class. He is acting defiant, not completing assignments and starting fights on the playground. Mrs. Allen has noticed that Robbie’s behavior changed after the Winter break. She sets up an SST meeting so that she can meet with Robbie’s parents, the school psychologist, the principal and the nurse. At the meeting, all parties share the changes they have noticed in Robbie and come up with a plan that will help Robbie be more successful.
The SST meeting provides everyone with the opportunity to share concerns about a child and develop a plan of action. A teacher, counselor, school employee or a parent can refer a student to the SST. The SST can propose interventions for the student. Examples of interventions that might appear in an SST plan include:
- Preferential seating in the classroom
- Extra time with assignments
- Weekly progress reports
- A behavior plan with a reward system
- Weekly visits with the school counselor or psychologist
- Tutoring programs
An SST is a meeting where notes are taken and if modifications are recommended, they should be written into a formal plan. The plan should be distributed to everyone that comes in contact with the student, including the parent, and a copy should be kept in the student’s cumulative file for further reference. The plan should state when the team plans to re-convene to assess the student’s progress. Usually, the team agrees to meet again within three months of the initial meeting to determine if the interventions have been successful. At that time, the team can terminate the plan, add or change the plan or decide to refer the student to another intervention. This might include a 504 evaluation or an evaluation for special education.
If your child has previously been successful in school and suddenly experiences difficulties, an SST meeting is often a great first step to take in finding out what is preventing your child from experiencing success. To request an SST meeting for your child, you can ask your child’s teacher, or contact the principal or school psychologist.
Below is a sample SST Plan written for a third grade student.
Sample SST Plan
Date: November 7, 2011
Student Name: Seth Regan , Grade: 3
Teacher: Mrs. Neiche
Referred By: Joanna Regan, parent.
Problem: Seth is not turning in school assignments and is not participating in class discussions. His behavior continues to be a serious problem in class. His reading continues to be below grade level despite tutoring and after school assistance.
History: Seth has had problems in school since kindergarten. He has received Below Grade Level assessments on his report card in reading and behavior for the past two years. (see attached report cards) His test scores indicate that he is performing at the 30th percentile in reading. His math scores are in the 75th percentile. (See attached test scores and work samples) Mrs. Neiche reported that she tries hard to work with Seth but she is frustrated at his lack of progress.
Discussion: Mrs. Regan shared that Seth has been diagnosed with ADHD and is frustrated with school. They fight about school at home and Seth hates to sit down and read. His behavior is also a problem at school in that he cannot sit still or focus on his work for a long period of time. Mrs. Regan does not want to put Seth on medication at this time and is working with a behavior counselor and utilizing dietary remedies.
1. The SST team agreed that Seth should be referred to the school psychologist for behavior support once per week and that the SST team will re-convene to write a behavior plan that includes rewards and consequences for Seth’s behavior at school.
2. Mrs. Regan will set up 10 minute homework times in the evenings so that Seth can take a 5 minute break every 10 minutes until his work is complete.
3. Mrs. Smith will email Mrs. Regan on Friday’s with a weekly progress report.
Follow Up Plan: The school psychologist will contact Mrs. Regan for an interview and will begin meeting with Seth. Once the behavior plan is completed, the SST team will meet in three months to determine if there has been any improvement in Seth’s behavior. Mrs. Neiche will provide Seth with reading support and tutoring will continue. If the team does not see any improvement in Seth’s behavior and performance in six months, it agrees that Seth should be referred for a special education evaluation.