What are some of the lessons learned from implementing intensive intervention at the middle or secondary level?

Question: What are some of the lessons learned from implementing intensive intervention at the middle or secondary level? 

Answer: When we create decision rules and apply decision rules equally to all students, one of the differences by the middle level and the high school level is students who identify as needing intensive intervention will have, many of them, already existing IEPs. So, we have these two traditionally siloed systems; special education and interventions that are provided in the general education that have been traditionally siloed and now need to align. It’s great that we are providing access and equally considering all students but now it creates a new logistical challenge for us. One of the first problems we encounter in this work was finding that our special education classes which are supposed to be specialized instruction and the most intensive in the building, are actually not more intense than Tier Two. So we have students in general education getting for example one period of math, and we have for example Tier Two students that are getting their general education math and another layer of specialized instruction in foundational skills. Then we would have students with IEPs documenting math difficulties or learning gaps that are very sizeable getting only one period a day. So we needed to make special education more intense and we solved that this time by double-blocking. They had a cotaught class for general education grade-level standards and a foundational filling class. This brought us into issues of who is the most qualified candidate to teach those intervention classes. So if you are highly qualified in math content than you don’t necessarily know a lot about disabilities. And if you know a lot about disabilities than you are not qualified in math content. So you might run into highly qualified issues at the secondary level when you are trying to create these interventions. The next area it affects is communication protocols so when we are, when a special education provider is a case manager of a student with special needs they are supposed to keep their thumb on all learning, all progress monitoring to be able to talk to parents. So if you have an interventionist and they are separate from special education then there is going to needs to be communication; how are we monitoring progress, how are we giving up dates. We also have non-responder meetings or DBI meetings (data-based individualization) and in those meetings with students who don’t have IEPs we have a team that has a meeting on the child and then intensifies further but when they have an IEP now we need to make sure that we invite the special educator and we have to define when does that meeting on a student who is struggling— when is it a data problem-solving team and when is it an IEP team-meeting and IEP team-meetings have legalities involved; administration that has to be there, parents who have to be invited. And so defining when that happens is really important. And finally we have to think about specific learning disability evaluation and the way different states handle it. Our state is a response to intervention identification process. And so we have to say to ourselves, when does this student, even if they have an IEP in other areas, when should we have a reevaluation or consider whether they have a learning disability in this new area, say math or if they need goals and changes to their special needs programming.  

Developed By: 
National Center on Intensive Intervention