early intervention

Early intervention: How a tech-based approach is keeping our students in school

This 3-step plan is helping teachers access data quickly and act on it

2. Find intervention technology that fits your needs
Your intervention team could be full of high performers, but if they don’t have the necessary tools, their ability to respond with fast, effective solutions are hindered. That’s where technology comes in.

If your school or district is new to intervention technology, I recommend starting small and simple. In fact, my school looked to our existing student information system, Skyward, for our current intervention software. It didn’t take us long to discover how technology could enhance our ability to streamline intervention data, improve communication, and help staff respond and analyze faster than ever before. As a bonus, staff were already familiar with the system, which lessened the learning curve.

Many people ask why we don’t track interventions on a spreadsheet, which is a reasonable question but one with an easy answer. Prior to Skyward’s intervention tool, we tracked interventions on Google Sheets, which was a place to start but not a place to end. While spreadsheets identified important data for interventions, the lasting nature of interventions was limited. A teacher could collect data on his or her 25 students for a given year but transferring that information to the receiving teacher the next year was very tedious. With a more powerful solution, school personnel have the tools to personalize interventions and monitor progress over time.

Schools need to identify small, quick wins with any new technology and focus on those first. Luckily, we found an intervention solution that followed that same logic, and I can confidently say it has kept students in school.

3. Emphasize positive intervention
With a detailed plan and technology in place, you can take interventions to a new level by applying a holistic approach to individual students. For example, our teachers develop plans to support students that include interventions, baseline data, and goal setting. By tracking data, teachers have real-time insights that allow them to take more proactive and personalized measures with each student. Better yet, we include the student, parents, and guardians in every conversation around the student’s progress, which increases support and accountability.

By formalizing the structure of support between interventionists, teachers, students, and parents, we have been able to better plan for student needs at a classroom level and reduce the number and severity of behavioral issues for individual students. This has helped us reduce out of school suspensions by 20 percent from the 2016-17 school year to the 2017-18 school year. In schools or districts larger than my own, this could mean hundreds of students.

The results we’ve experienced under our intervention model are exciting, and numerous schools in our district are intrigued with the work we’re doing. Still, no intervention model is one-size-fits-all and each school has unique traits that influence the strategies that work best for them. I encourage you to find what works best for your staff and students by pushing new boundaries and considering new ideas. If even one strategy I mentioned helps, this was a success. No student should end up like Jimmy.

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