Student Support Services at IST
At IST we value the diverse range of learning profiles (mild, moderate, intensive, highly capable) in our community and define inclusion as a collective responsibility to ensure all students fulfill their potential through a learning journey that is supportive, challenging and inspiring. The Student Support Services (StS) Department provides this support to identified students, based on the individual needs of each learner. This could include documented learning differences, English-language gaps or social-emotional issues.
Pull-out and co-teaching are the service delivery models followed at IST. When planning for students for successful access to the curriculum, the model that best suits the individual needs of the learner is considered.
Pull-out classes are for identified students within the StS Department and have a dedicated teacher. These classes focus on the specific skills and strategies to make learners independent or help with specific content from subject area classes.
Co-taught classes are classes with two teachers, the support teacher and subject area teacher. These teachers have equal responsibility for the learning in these classes, co-planning, co-teaching and co-assessing.
To facilitate effective pull-out and inclusion support, Learning Support teachers maintain regular communication with subject area teachers. Regularly scheduled planning meetings enable each learner’s needs to be planned for and met. The level of support is closely monitored and adjusted to continually meet the needs of each individual learner, with the goal being to develop independent learners.
Scheduling of inclusion support depends on a variety of factors, involving collaboration with the homeroom teacher and Child Study Team members to determine the best service options for each student.
Support can be received temporarily or throughout a student’s entire duration at the school.
Multi-Tiered System of Supports Model
The structure for working teachers collaboratively to ensure that all learners achieve essential learning expectations and their full potential is articulated in the school’s MTSS, which illustrates how levels of support for individual students may change based on their academic, social-emotional and/or English-learning needs.
At each tier of support, student services, classroom, subject, specialist teachers and administrators collaborate with each other, flexibly applying appropriate service delivery models to take collective responsibility for all students’ learning.
While the application of service delivery models is flexible based on the needs of the student, at any given time, co-planning, co-teaching and small group intervention are prioritized as particularly effective models that, in most cases, will best serve student needs.
In addition, we believe that parents and students must play active roles in efforts to meet student needs, with a particular focus on students developing self-advocacy skills.
Another key feature of the MTSS model includes frequent evaluation of data on student progress to determine the level of support needed. IST has universal screeners in place and a referral process that encourages and supports early interventions and problem-solving. Integrated data collection and progress monitoring are used to better inform decisions at each tier of service delivery.
IST provides learning support to students who need skill remediation as well as additional support and/or scaffolding in order to access academic content. When necessary, curriculum learning expectations are modified. This process is carefully and cautiously considered, and requires detailed documentation and close monitoring.
Learning support may be provided through remediation, accommodations and/or modifications as stated in students’ Intervention/Accommodation Plans (Tier 2) or Student Support Plans (SSP) (Tier 3).
The criteria for learning support services, particularly at the tier 3 level, is often based on assessment scores and a diagnosis of a learning disorder. Some students receive services based on need and current level of performance as determined through data collection and analysis.
Learning support specialists across all grade levels focus on the goals of promoting the development of skills and strategies necessary for a student to become a successful learner.
The need for learning support services is reviewed on an as-needed basis and at least annually for students receiving a tier 3 level of support.
How do Students Access Learning Support?
Upon admission to IST, student files are reviewed to determine if a student may need additional support to access the curriculum. If it is determined at the application stage, IST determines the service delivery model that will best suit the individual needs of the student. If it becomes clear that the new student, who is being monitored, requires additional support, the MTSS process is followed.
The StS Department works flexibly and collaboratively with all educators in the school to ensure that each student receives the support they need, in the form of accommodations or modifications to access the curriculum.
For students with learning differences, English-language gaps or social-emotional issues, there is a focus on addressing these to every extent possible so that the student is able to increasingly access the curriculum independently and without accommodation.