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NCSS getting the word out on intervention

COVINGTON - The Newton County School System is working hard this school year on improving its intervention program, designed to identify students who need help in a variety of areas.

"When we started the school year, about 20 percent of the teachers have heard of the intervention program," said Kenneth Proctor, elementary curriculum director for the Newton County School System, at the Newton Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

At this point in the school year, he said nearly 100 percent of teachers now have heard about the program, thanks to the school system's Teachers as Leaders Program, which has one teacher representative from each school deliver presentations throughout the school year about system programs.

The intervention program, which has a reference team at each school and at the district, uses a four-tier Pyramid of Intervention from the Georgia Department of Education to identify students who need additional support.

"This project came about as a result of No Child Left Behind," Proctor said. "This is not only for students who need additional support and are struggling, but also for those who are doing well. It serves as the framework for systems to develop and implement processes that meet student needs."

He said the program mainly deals with planning, doing it, checking to see if the plan was successful and acting upon results.

Intervention areas include academic, behavioral, speech/language and attendance.

Students are placed on various tiers according to their school behavior.

At the bottom of the pyramid is Tier 1, standards-base classroom learning, which is school-wide and includes the implementation of the new Georgia Performance Standards and frequent progress monitoring.

"This is what is in place for all students," Proctor said.

This tier includes half-day professional learning days three times each year to review academic, behavior and attendance performance of all students.

"When we move up the pyramid, the intensity of activity increases," Proctor said.

Tier 2 is for targeted groups of students who fall below the 20th percentile on screening measures or who have academic, behavioral or attendance problems. Teachers also meet monthly to review each student's progress.

Teachers follow an alterable instructional variables chart for these students - some teachers might have to replace the student's core program, provide additional coaching or have the child change instructors, among other options.

Tier 3 is for students who need "a more intensive intervention."

Proctor said based on the monitoring of these students, they may be referred for a special education or gifted education evaluation.

The top Tier 4 is Specially Designed Learning, which targets students participating in specialized programs and students who are eligible for special education services.

Proctor said he continues to meet with teachers and teams throughout the school year to develop new plans to make the program successful for all students.

"Teachers are really having to collaborate and work together in all grade levels," he said.