Image by: Toledo Public Schools
By Mark Jacobs
Beth Barrow, Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Executive Director of Students, assigns a grade to K-12 on the benefits and efficacy of the TPS intervention actions to assist at-risk students. The purpose of the intervention teams, one at each of the 41 TPS elementary schools, is to focus on the issue presented by a student so that their disability is not over-identified. Reading issues, behavioral issues and other school-related problems can be attributed to other factors— poverty, issues in the home, etc.— rather than a learning disability.
Interventions touch approximately 3-5% of the students in TPS, around 1,000 of the school district’s 22,000 total students. With an estimated 50-60% Response and Resolution rate through interventions, Barrow finds the intervention teams’ results are encouraging.
For issues that go unresolved through the initial intervention, the teams involve the school psychologist to determine whether the student has a true learning disability. Because there are so few students actually diagnosed with a learning disability, this multi-tiered system of support helps both the students following the general education track as well as the teachers in the classrooms who can make effective learning accommodations.
TPS outranks Ohio’s Urban 8 Districts, the preeminent districts in Ohio’s larger urban centers, in the effectiveness of TPS’s intervention team approach to assist students by helping them navigate school-related issues.
Often, however, parents can be apprehensive about a planned intervention because they may be unaccustomed to this approach. Instead, Barrow says, “parents have been tuned in to IEPs (Individual Education Plans), which have been employed to deal with education-related issues more often in the past.”
“Intervention with a trained and involved team, at each separate school, is often a better approach as it keeps students in the general education track in that curriculum” instead of an individualized track. In other words, addressing the root of the problem, such as poverty, instead of incorrectly diagnosing a learning disability, helps the student in the long run.