School and District Support Structures
Response to Intervention (RTI):
Response to Intervention is a three levelled approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behaviour needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and assessment in the classroom along with universally designed supports. Students who require more support are provided with interventions at increasing intensity levels to meet their learning needs. The services may be provided by a variety of personnel, including the classroom teachers, collaborative models of support teachers, learning services teacher school counsellors, education assistants and other specialist staff. The RTI framework and process guide educators' work as they collaborate with parents/guardians and school staff to understand the needs of individual students and plan for student success.
Planning for Invisible Intervention:
Once school configuration and student placements are finalized, a process called ‘classroom mapping’ begins. Based on an understanding of all the learners in the class, an instructional plan is drafted. While the classroom teacher is central to this process, co-planning with the Collaborative Models of Support (CMOS) team (Learning Support Teacher, Special Education Teacher, Teacher Librarian, Counsellor, Collaborative Support Teacher, etc.) helps to inform personalized projects and student-led inquiry, and the establishment of the individual student and overall class requirements for inclusive, invisible learning support.
Teacher Learning Teams and the CMOS team co-plan a schedule of inclusive support. Discussions for the provision of these supports include the educational, medical, and physical needs of each student, the proposed program and support for each student, a student’s self-identified time out of the regular classroom setting, the regular class size and composition, the group dynamics, the professional opinions of the teachers directly affected, the professional training and/or inservice needs of the teachers involved etc. This inclusive support reflects an equitable distribution of available resources.
Universal Design for Learning:Research shows that most students (80%) within a given classroom, will achieve and make progress when provided with classroom instruction, assessment, feedback, and universal support. This is referred to as Level 1 instruction. The most meaningful supports are designed as a part of lesson planning and are embedded into daily teaching practice. Universal supports may be embedded in areas such as skill sequence, pacing, methodology, materials, technology, equipment, services, and setting. Based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), educators plan with the end in mind. UDL begins with thoroughly knowing the concept one is going to teach. Teachers present the information using a variety of modalities (i.e., demonstration, acting out, video, pictures, etc.) in an effort to meet the learning preferences of the students in the classroom. Teachers plan for students to access information through different means (i.e., reading, listening, experimenting, speaking) and provide students options to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways (i.e., writing, oral presentations, skits, projects, etc.). When planning for the widest range of learners within a classroom from the start, UDL principles and strategies benefit all learners.
Examples of Level 1 Universally Designed classroom supports that are available to all learners include but are not limited to:
- student Voice and Choice;
- digital/audio texts or peer helpers to assist with assigned readings;
- access to assistive tools/technology (e.g., work processors, calculators, text to speech/voice to text software, magnifier, FM system, etc.);
- alternate ways of demonstrating learning standards;
- graphic organizers/strategy list to assist students/extended time to complete assignments or tests;
- support to develop and practice student skills; for example, in a learning assistance class;
- pre-teaching key vocabulary or concepts; multiple exposures to materials;
- classroom community and belonging;
- personalized instruction;
- student goals;
- class profiles;
- culturally responsive teaching; and,
- self-regulated learning.
Research shows that approximately 20% of students within a given classroom, will require targeted instructional support (Tier 2) at some time during their school years. Students who require supports through adaptations to the B. C. curricular learning standards may have gaps in their learning or may require specific instruction to address their learning needs. The most meaningful supports are provided during student learning time to ensure the student does not miss instructional time.
Planning for Tier 3:
Personalized Instruction is a flexible approach to teaching in which a teacher plans and carries out varied approaches to address content, learning processes, learning style, presentation strategies, and assessment tools. This approach results in a more personal, proactive learning environment that is inclusive of a wide variety of learners. When teachers differentiate instruction, they provide students with the structures to maximize strengths, support stretches or needs, and experience timely remediation. This enables students to take advantage of effective learner strategies as they discover their own personal learning styles, interests, identity and needs to engage in learning. As a result, student motivation increases.
Few students (1% - 5%) in any given school will require more intensive interventions (Tier 3) to support their learning throughout their school career. In most cases, this will involve an assessment of the student's significant learning needs and/or diagnosis in support of a B.C. Ministry of Education, Special Education designation. School personnel will work closely with parents and guardians to develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to support the students' access to learning. Please see the section on IEPs for more details.
Throughout the spring/summer and through to the first week of September, school staff intentionally design for diverse groupings of students as they review possible school configurations (i.e. single and multi-age groupings) and class placements. Students’ strengths and stretches are thoughtfully considered during professional discussions to ensure equitable access to support and opportunities for growth. Current neuroscience research informs conversations, and takes into consideration the following five areas of child development: (1) aesthetic and artistic development, (2) emotional and social development, (3) intellectual development, (4) physical development and well-being, and (5) the development of social responsibility. It is understood that all children have strengths and bring a uniqueness to a group in a celebration of diversity.
The classroom profile meeting is an opportunity for the classroom teacher to collaborate with the School-Based Team and some members of the Inclusive Education staff to review and plan for the classroom as a community. The classroom profile meeting is held in the fall with a possible follow-up meeting held in the winter or spring. During the meeting:
- global classroom strengths, interests, passions, and stretches are identified;
- individual student strengths and stretches are identified in curricular and core competency areas; and,
- this information is used to guide classroom instruction and schedule support from the school's support team.
During this meeting, support staff explore ways to assist the classroom teacher in addressing classroom goals. For example, the team may decide that the school counsellor will support a class for six weeks to work on goal setting and increasing personal independence.
The School-Based Team (SBT) is a strength-based problem-solving group that works with classroom teachers to develop and implement educational programs for students who need support. SBTs meet weekly at each school site. They make collaborative decisions regarding instructional interventions, behaviour support, case management, referrals for school-based supports (learning services teacher, collaborative models of support teacher, teacher librarian etc.) and district support and consultation, as needed (counsellors, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, Indigenous Support Workers, etc), and the allocation of school-based resources.
These teams design interventions, gather data, and make informed decisions regarding appropriate next steps.
This team meets regularly and plays a formal role as a school-based problem-solving team to:
- assist the classroom teacher in developing and implementing instructional, environmental and/or behavioural management strategies for all students including those on an IEP;
- problem-solve, review and/or coordinate resources and services for students within the school; and,
- assist with access to additional resources and services in the district and/or the community, as needed (i.e., referral for Occupational Therapy services).
(Parents are to be notified if their child has been referred by the classroom teacher to the school-based team).
Accessing Support for Students Through the School-Based Team:
If a teacher's assessment data shows a student is not responding to the universal supports and classroom instruction, the teacher begins the process of investigation and collaboration with the student's parent/guardian and school support staff to better understand the student's learning needs and how to plan for student success.
Tier 1: Collaborative Problem Solving ~ Student, Parent and Classroom teacher
At this stage, the classroom teacher:
- reviews the student's history by viewing the student's file and previous report cards;
- consider the student's individual strengths and needs whether academic achievement and/or social/emotional development;
- collects and shares data with the parent/guardian;
- conferences with the student and parent/guardian to share observations and ask questions (inquires about vision, hearing and/or medical screening);
- Introduces variations in instructional approaches such as:
- breaking assignments into manageable chunks;
- front loading expectations and providing a visual schedule;
- allowing extra time for completion of tests or assignments;
- social-emotional interventions;
- develops an informal plan with the student and parents to support the student's needs;
- implements various inclusive, strength-based strategies to support growth areas; and,
- reflects upon the success of interventions, reviews the impact of these supports and adjusts as needed.
If challenges persist then further interventions may be required. The teacher will consult with the school support staff such as the social-emotional teacher, school counsellor, learning assistant teacher, etc. this would be a Tier 2 intervention.
Tier 2: Collaborative Planning for Students Through Teacher Consultation and Collaboration
In an effort to better understand the student's learning needs, the classroom teacher will then collaborate with support staff within the school. For example, the teacher might collaborate with the student's previous teacher for input or request the counsellor conduct a classroom observation. At this stage, the classroom teacher may collaborate with the:
- Learning Assistant Teacher;
- Resource Teacher;
- School Counsellor;
- Administrator; and,
- Indigenous Support Workers or Success Advisors.
With insight from these school staff members, the teacher and parent/guardian continue to strengthen the learning plan established in Tier 1. If challenges persist, then (Tier) Stage 3 interventions may be required. The teacher will refer the student for discussion at a School-Based Team meeting.Tier 3: Collaboration with the School-Based Team to plan for student support
In this stage, the classroom teacher will complete a referral to access problem-solving support from the School-Based Team. Teachers will ensure parents and/or guardians have been informed that a referral to the school team has been made.The School-Based Team will:
- invite staff from Inclusive Education Team (IST) to attend the collaborative problem-solving discussion (Referrals will be based on the needs of the student);
- work collaboratively with the teacher to determine if the presenting concern is specific to curriculum, classroom context, learning difficulties, social/emotional needs, etc.
- arrange for further assessment by school-based support staff. This may include informal observation, achievement testing, and in some cases, more formalized assessment by the School Psychologist;
- collaborate with parents to strengthen home/school relationships and use shared strategies.
- provide specialist consultation/in-service on classroom adaptation;
- initiate an appropriate referral to community agencies for further social-emotional or mental health support; and,
- plan for and coordinate specialist services for the student.
Specialized supplemental resources and services include one or more of the following (depending on the functional need). It is important to note that a Ministry Designation does not mean that a student will receive direct support from an Educational Assistant.
District Inclusive Education Staff:
- Teacher of the Visually Impaired
- Teacher of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
- Occupational Therapist (OT)
- Physical Therapist
- Learning Support Teacher (LST)
- School Psychologist
- Speech, and Language Pathologist
- Inclusion Support Team (IST)
- Certified Educational Assistants (typically in the form of shared support)
The support offered through these supplemental services will vary depending on the educational needs of each student. Some students may receive support within the classroom; others may receive some services outside the classroom in one-on-one or small group settings (for example: Counselling or Speech and Language support). Sometimes indirect services and resources are provided to the classroom teacher with no direct services to the student. The Individual Education Plan (IEP) will outline the support for the student.
Inclusive Education staff provide support based on referrals made to the school-based team. The level of individual student need is always the focus of discussion when allocating supplemental services. Assessment of the student's strengths and needs helps determine what supports are necessary for each student with a ministry designation. In collaboration with Inclusive Education staff, the school-based team determines what supports are necessary for each student with a ministry designation. The goal is to support student learning while nurturing independence and self-efficacy.