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Teacher Assistance Team (T.A.T.)
Teachers have always been challenged, sometimes puzzled, and frequently frustrated when a student does not "fit it" with the rest of the class. Every teacher has experienced the student who acts inappropriately or disruptive, or who seems to lag behind the class academically. Both teachers and parents know that this student needs help. The Teacher Assistance Team addresses the challenge of helping students who are having trouble in school through a positive, success-oriented approach that uses specific assessment and intervention tactics to help remove educational and behavioral stumbling blocks for elementary children in the regular classroom.
Additionally, for those students who are in need of enrichment activities, the Teacher Assistance Team functions as a resource to help those teachers support students in need of a more rigorous curriculum.
Nottingham West uses a Team Approach designed to assist students to function successfully in the elementary school environment.
The goal of the Teacher Assistance Team is to build a cooperative interdisciplinary team that works together to help students:
- increase academic learning
- increase appropriate behaviors
- increase motivation
- support teachers in instruction
- increase professional partnerships
Overall, the Team tries to maximize individual student success in regular classes. Successful implementation of instructional support typically leads to a decrease in the number of referrals and placements of students in Special Education classes, and an increase in the strategies used by teachers which lead to success for all teachers.
Support for Teachers
The Teacher Assistance Team is based on the concept that teachers need assistance in meeting the increasingly complex, behavioral, social and emotional needs of their students. The TAT is a working group of teachers and other school professionals that help teachers find solutions to their instructional challenges through precise, classroom-based assessment and collaborative problem solving. Specialists brainstorm strategies and the implementation of interventions for students who are academically, socially, and/or behaviorally challenged or in need of enrichment. Through the collective effort and synergy, which exists through the brainstorming process, it is hoped that for many students the TAT will provide the support and expertise necessary to help classroom teachers ensure student success.
This non-threatening atmosphere helps teachers recognize that they are not solely responsible for resolving a student's difficulties; rather, the entire school has a role in each student's success. The TAT is to use the resources currently existing in the building to help teachers design, execute and evaluate interventions for children at Nottingham West. The TAT works to assure that the entire continuum of regular education services are coordinated in meeting the needs of all students. Too often a student fails in spite of a wide range of available programs because services are not coordinated to meet the student's needs. The TAT process directly addresses service coordination so that students do not fall through the cracks.
The TAT looks at instructional strategies that are based on a systematic search for what will work for the student so that success will be realized. This search and the managing of resources to maintain success for the student is the essence of instructional support.
For those students who are not able to succeed after appropriate intervention, the TAT will serve as a Pre-referral Team and may recommend a formal Special Education referral and evaluation. In this case, the Request for Consultation to the Teacher Assistance Team becomes the Special Education referral. Once the student is referred to the Special Education Team, the Special Education process is followed.
All referrals will be considered consultations to be conducted by the TAT. Consultation is conducted in a systematic manner using the following outline:
- Problem Identification – presenting a behavioral description of the problem
- Problem Analysis – analyzing factors which may be causing the problem and generating an intervention plan
- Treatment Implementation – monitoring implementation of the intervention plan and outcomes
- Treatment Evaluation – deciding the degree to which the intervention plan solved the problem by examining the outcome data, intervention strategies, and acceptability of the intervention by the referring teacher
The Teacher Assistance Team is built around the Response to Intervention Premise in that summative and formative assessment data is considered along with everyday classroom performance and standardized testing.
Response to Intervention
The major premise of RTI is that intervening early can prevent academic failure and determine whether a student's underachievement is the result of an actual learning difficulty, as opposed to other factors, such as inadequate instruction. RTI uses a tiered approach of increasingly intense interventions. The first two tiers include prevention steps that take place in the general classroom; the final tier reflects special education.
General Classroom Interventions (Tier 1 and Tier 2)
The intervention hierarchy reflects increasing levels of intensity of instruction and intervention:
- In Tier 1, teachers provide a research-based curriculum and effective teaching strategies. Screening should occur for all children within three months of their entering the program. Teachers screen students and monitor their progress through observation and by using such tools as checklists, rating scales, work samples, and curriculum-based assessments.
In Tier 1, teachers screen all students to determine whether the curriculum and instruction are meeting the needs of the majority of students. If 80 percent of students meet the predetermined benchmarks, the curriculum is assumed to be acceptable.
- Gates: Pre and Post Test
- Writing Prompts: Fall and spring
- Fluency Screening-Below 50th Percentile
- Math Assessments: EveryDay Math Midyear and Final
- Basic Facts
- 1st Grade Brigance Screening
- In Tier 2, teachers provide interventions to students who do not make adequate progress in Tier 1. Interventions require minimum adjustments to classroom activities. Parents, teachers, and specialists can collaborate to develop specific group interventions, such as introducing relevant vocabulary before a read aloud. Assessments focus more closely on areas of concern, such as phonological awareness or basic math concepts.
In Tier 2, teachers use targeted interventions, such as differentiated instruction, to address the needs of students who didn't make adequate progress in Tier 1, even when the curriculum was considered to be of good quality. Research suggests that approximately 15 percent of students will respond to these interventions and make adequate progress.
Targeted Interventions Include:
- Read Naturally
- Assignment to Reading Tutor for Language! Program
- Flexible Grouping based on NECAP results
- ASCD Vocabulary Program
- Specific behavior plan
Referral for Special Education (Tier 3)
- In Tier 3, teachers implement more intensive interventions for students who do not make adequate progress in Tier 2. For example, a teacher might work individually with a student to reinforce rhyming concepts. Teachers collaborate with parents and early childhood specialists to determine a student's eligibility for special education services. Teachers may find it necessary in this tier to use norm-referenced and standardized diagnostic tests.
In Tier 3, teachers intensify individualized instruction for those students who failed to make adequate progress in Tier 2. Research suggests that a small proportion—5 percent—may not respond to these interventions and may have specific learning disabilities. Teachers refer these students for formal evaluation for special education.
In addition to its multiple tiers of intervention, RTI incorporates a problem-solving approach in which classroom teachers and specialists identify and evaluate relevant instructional strategies and monitor student progress using ongoing data collection and assessment. This is done through the TAT process.
Helping All Students Succeed
The TAT does more than hold meetings to assist teachers. For each student identified as needing instructional support, a member of the TAT will work in conjunction with the teacher by assessing the student and testing possible strategies for student success. Working collaboratively, the teacher and the TAT pool their information on the student to define clearly a student's problems and begin to explore what might work for this child. The Team then uses this information to develop an intervention plan.
Keeping students successful in regular education is the main focus of the TAT. Through the implementation and evaluation of the intervention plan, the TAT can identify what works in the regular classroom. By assessing the effectiveness of the Team's intervention plan, each student's "degree of need" for the instructional support and Special Education programs and services is determined.
Instructional assessment begins with classroom-based procedures that precisely examine each student's academic skills and classroom behavior. From this information, teaching strategies are developed and implemented in the classroom during the instructional support period of 20 days.
The Team is made up of a classroom teacher, administration, Guidance Counselor, Behavioral Specialist, Reading Specialist, Special Education teachers, referring teacher, student teachers, or anyone else who can offer insight into the student's needs. Any staff member involved in a referral to the Team is encouraged to invite other staff members who they think have additional insight or expertise. It is the collaboration, team effort, and brain-storming that are the heart and soul of this TEAM.
Team Members Include:
Learning Disabilities Specialist
Special Education Department Head
Special Education Teacher
Elementary Specialist – one classroom teacher per quarter serves on the TAT
- When anyone has a concern that a student is having difficulty of any kind in the school 9or needs to be challenged) the student may be referred to the TAT.
- The referring teacher completes Request for Consultation to Teacher Assistance Team form. The referring teacher will provide information on Problem Identification (reason for the consultation), Problem Analysis (specific questions needing to be targeted), and brief general information. It is imperative that the students have a vision and hearing screening from the school nurse in the event that any diagnostic or standardized testing takes place or the consultation becomes a formal Special Education referral. (See attached Request for Consultation to Teacher Assistance Team form). This referral should be given to the TAT chair (Assistant Principal) no later than 3 PM on Friday for duplication and distribution to Team Members and scheduling of review for the next available Friday slot. TAT meetings are held each
Friday morning in the upstairs conference room from 8:00-12:30 PM. Normally, five to seven students are placed on the agenda for discussion. Meeting sessions are anywhere from 30-45 minutes in length.
- Students who may need any kind of support are initially brought up at the TAT in order to develop strategies, support and assistance through educational resources. During the TAT meeting notes are taken outlining concerns, strategies, persons responsible for implementation of strategies, timeliness and outcomes. (See attached TAT Meeting Summary form). A review meeting is scheduled at 20 days after the date of the initial meeting and held as needed thereafter. Request for Consultation forms can be obtained in either administrative offices.
- The classroom teacher will be given a written copy of Team Minutes and TAT Summary within a 24-hour time period. Copies to parents will be mailed within a 24-hour time period.
- A variety of resources and strategies are considered by the TAT. They may include, but are not limited to:
- As long as the student demonstrates some improvements, and not severe frustration or educating handicapping condition emerges, the process of adapting and accommodating to meet the student's needs can continue without limit. When strategies have been implemented and adjusted and do not improve the student's progress, and additional factors also raise the question of whether the student may be in need of Special Education, the student will be referred by the TAT for a Special Education evaluation.
Implementation of various classroom strategies and modifications
Formal & informal assessment
Collaboration and Team Building
Through the collaborative problem-solving process, the TAT helps the classroom teacher to identify the student's specific school difficulty, set measurable goals and identify effective instructional strategies. The process also assures that the identified strategy is established and supported in the classroom through the Team's assistance. The intervention plan is evaluated every 20 days and new plans are made if ended for the continuation of successful strategies.
The critical factor of the Team is collaboration. The Team works together to plan, implement and evaluate the educational program for a particular student. The Team enables people with diverse expertise to solve school-based problems in teaching, learning and curriculum. The outcome is enhanced, altered, and produces solutions that are different from those that the individual team members would produce independently.
The purpose of using a collaborative problem-solving approach is to prevent learning and behavioral problems, to remediate learning and behavioral problems, and to coordinate instructional programs.
Many students in the regular classroom display learning difficulties, but are not eligible for Special Education services. These students may have problems in reading, participation in class discussions, organizing information, working independently, completing assignments, writing legibly, listening to class presentations, difficulty with written expression and completing homework assignments.
In referring students to the Teacher Assistance Team, the team gathers concrete and specific questions that are behavioral in nature to guide the planning, intervention and data collection effort. These questions provide a framework of reference for clarifying what the student is expected to learn and how the student’s progress is measured in relation to learning and retaining information.
The question has to be specific and in observable terms. For example:
- What exactly is the student expected to understand, develop, or demonstrate in relation to what is being taught?
- Is the task at the student's instructional level?
- If an instructional mismatch exists, what steps will be taken to help the student develop the knowledge and skills to be successful?
- How will the student’s performance be monitored to assure that he/she will be actively engaged in the learning process?
- How did the student respond to the intervention process?
In referring a student to TAT, the team gathers information on the difficulty the child is having in the curriculum. For example, if a student is having difficulty in reading, then the reading specialist would administer preliminary assessments in the area of accuracy, fluency or comprehension and collect some preliminary baseline data to begin to make a plan. Questions 3, 4, and 5 are asked during the time the TAT plan is written and monitored.
Whenever student progress is sufficiently maintained in the regular classroom through instructional support so that the rates of acquiring and retaining skills and information meet the goals set by the TAT, the student is not eligible for special education because the student does not display a need for special education to achieve success. On the other hand, for the student whose degree of need goes beyond what the regular classroom environment can provide (ie the student who fails to make sufficient progress in spite of supported regular classroom interventions) referral for further evaluation to determine eligibility for special education is indicated.
To determine special education needs, we want to know:
- How much additional time was required for planning and implementing the intervention
- Can the array of services available in the regular education program be managed to continue the process of instructional support so that the progress made in the intervention can be continued?
- Does the child require special education services in order to maintain the instructional level?
Through maintaining antidotal records throughout the 20-day period, we can start to address these questions.
In spite of these difficulties, these students can make progress in regular education classrooms through adaptation in instructions and assessment. The TAT recommends models for adapting materials and evaluations. Instructional materials adaptation requires changing the format of instructional materials without changing the content. Adaptations require the same performance from students, but in alternative formats. Classroom assessment may need to be adapted to allow students to display their knowledge without being penalized for poor test-taking skills. Techniques used to adapt tests include alternatives to written tests, modifications of written questions, simplification of response levels, and modification of testing materials.
When developing a TAT plan for each student, curriculum modification and student support is addressed. There are three main areas of support given to a student. They include:
- Modified Material
- Student Support
- Modified Expectations
Materials can be modified in one of three ways. Adding materials where students can use cassette recorders, calculators, index cards, headsets, manipulative, etc. Adapting materials, such as highlighted print or enlarged print and substituting materials, such as graphic organizers, pencils instead of markers, grid paper for math, etc.
In some cases students can work with an instructional aide, classroom volunteer, increased directive teaching from the classroom teacher, and peer support. Peer support can be provided through cooperative grouping, peer tutor, peer note-taker, peer prompter, study buddy, etc.Modified Expectations
There are three approaches to modified expectations. They include: modifying the demonstration of learning (in what other alternate methods can the child demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning objectives?), modifying the quantity of work, and modifying the priority goals (this includes identifying desired results and essential questions).
In all cases of curriculum modification and student support, modifications are made taking into consideration the concept of comparable challenge. The student’s learning ability is not measured against the outcome of others, rather measured against specific content standards. Additionally, all modifications are made keeping in mind the highest expectations.
One of the most challenging problems facing schools today is the ability to manage student discipline problems. When difficult behavior problems are not resolve in the classroom, positive back-up techniques are designed. The Student Support Center is available to help design a plan, emphasizing assisting the student to perform the required task/behavior. The parents' support is solicited from the beginning of the plan so that the student knows that the parents and the school agree on their expectations for appropriate school behavior.
Development of a TAT Plan
Before the intervention period begins, there are key questions which are addressed by the Team during the initial meeting. They include:
- What exactly is the student expected to understand, develop, or demonstrate in relation to what is being taught?
- Is the task at the student's instructional level? (Is the task developmentally appropriate? Does the student understand what he/she is supposed to do? Does the student have the prerequisite skills to accomplish the task?)
- If an instructional mismatch exists, what steps will be taken to help the student develop the knowledge and skills to be successful? (What strategies or adaptations are to be used to enhance performance?)
- How will the student's performance be monitored to assure that he/she will be actively engaged in the learning process?
- How did the student respond to the intervention process?
These questions provide a framework for clarifying what the student is expected to learn in the classroom and are the basis for designing an intervention plan. Please refer to the attached handout for information on TAT success rate.
STEPS IN THE TEACHER ASSISTANCE TEAM MEETING
The Teacher Assistance Team is conducted in 5 steps lasting approximately 30 minutes.
STEP 1: Introduction: (Problem Identification: Behavioral, academic, organizational,
language, social skills)
- Brief explanation of the Team Meeting Process
Goal of the meeting is stated:
- The purpose of the meeting is to assist Classroom Teacher in developing alternative intervention strategies for Student.
Recorders are appointed:
- 2 recorders are appointed, one for the brainstorming chart,
the second for the Teacher Assistance Team Meeting Summary
STEP 2: Problem behavior and goal are stated (Problem Analysis)
- The TAT Chair states the behavior and goal
- The TAT Chair presents summary information
- Team members ask clarifying questions to gain better
understanding of student and classroom
STEP 3: Teacher Assistant Team generates list of interventions
- Team brainstorms a list of intervention strategies
- As intervention strategies are being brainstormed, keep the
following in mind:
- remember that the student, his/her classroom, problem and goal
- be spontaneous, creative and brief
- do not criticize, apologize, and/or affirm strategies
- consider every available regular education and community resource
- Each strategy suggested is recorded quickly
- The Team stops brainstorming when no one has more to contribute
STEP 4: Teacher selects interventions & implements plan
- The teacher reviews strategies recorded on the chart. Time for questions, clarifications and discussions
- The teacher selects strategies for implementation
- TAT Chair clarifies/restates chosen strategies and records on the TAT Meeting Summary
- TAT Chair facilitates plan for support/implementation & records on TAT Meeting Summary
STEP 5: Monitoring/Follow-up established
- Team helps teacher select an appropriate progress monitoring
- Date established for follow-up meeting (recorded on TAT
TAT Chair ends meeting by summarizing decisions
- TAT Chair makes a copy of the TAT Meeting Summary form for teacher, Team members and parent