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Teams Of Educators Work To Meet Students’ Needs
Principally Speaking 04-12-23


Principal, Collegeville And Farmington

Those of us who work in the circles of education sometimes use terminology that confuses parents. Perhaps, most notably are a seemingly endless number of acronyms used to shorten otherwise lengthy terms: SDRT, SST, IEP, MTSS, PLC, dare I go on? It is the first three of these acronyms about which I would like to focus the reader’s attention. SDRT, or Student Data Review Team, is a multidisciplinary team that meets twice per year, once in the fall and again in the spring, to review student data and discuss plans of action to help students who need additional support. Escalon Unified’s SDRT process allows our district to monitor student progress and success.

The Student Data Review Team is composed of the classroom teacher, a special education teacher, a school psychologist, a speech language pathologist, a school nurse, a school administrator, and where available, a school counselor, an intervention teacher, and the Director of Student Services. Classroom teachers come to these meetings with student data including academic progress as measured by STAR Reading and Math assessments, Aimsweb reading fluency results, and their own observations.

The purpose of the meeting is to give teachers the time and opportunity to strategize with other personnel about students whom they have academic and/or behavioral concerns. When reviewing the data, the specialists around the table ask questions to get more specific details about individual students. For example, a teacher might note that a student is very fidgety and that the behavior seems to be impacting learning and focus. A recommendation might be made to give the student the option to stand while working, or perhaps provide a fidget tool that will give the student the option to direct their excess energy more productively. As teachers review their individual student data, follow up plans of action are determined.

Sometimes plans involve making relatively small adjustments in the classroom followed by monitoring for progress. In other instances, particularly if and when teachers have already implemented modifications or interventions to address a concern, a determination is made to have a follow up meeting involving the specialists who are needed along with the student’s parent(s). This is called an SST or Student Study Team meeting. SST meetings necessitate parental involvement so that school officials can get a more complete and comprehensive picture of a student, including their routines at home, developmental history, descriptions about their behavior, general health, and the sharing of any parental concerns that could impact how the school responds to what is happening in the classroom or on the playground.

The end result of an SST meeting is most often a specialized plan of action created by the entire team, including the parents, designed to remedy the observed difficulty. The course of action will by necessity vary from one student and specific situation to another. Once a plan is implemented it is up to the classroom teacher, supported by specialists and administration, to monitor the progress over a period of several weeks to see if the problem persists, has been reduced or has been eliminated. If the student struggle is resolved, then the SST process has succeeded in its intention. If the struggle persists, then the team must meet again to review data and determine an alternative course of action.

When, after multiple interventions have been unsuccessful, more robust action may be required. If the core problem is academic in nature and a student is not showing growth in their ability to learn, the team may recommend a special education evaluation to determine if special education and/ or related services are needed. When assessment is the recommendation of the team, they are unable to move forward without the consent of the student’s parent or guardian. Assessments vary in length, complexity and purpose and require that a student be pulled out of their regular classroom to complete them.

The law provides schools with a 60-day window within which to complete the assessments and hold a follow up IEP, Individualized Educational Plan, meeting to review the results. Just because a student undergoes testing to determine if an IEP can be created does not mean that they will automatically qualify. The results of the assessments will determine that outcome. When students do qualify for an IEP, they fall under the umbrella of Special Education, which means that a student’s special education services are driven by the specific goals and areas of weakness that a student has.

Special education law requires that students be placed in the ‘least restrictive environment,’ which means that educators must try to keep students within their general education classrooms as much as possible. The needs of students with IEPs vary greatly and thus the amount of time they may spend working directly with special education personnel outside of their regular classroom depends on their specific needs. It is hoped that the above description serves to illuminate our community about how our schools partner with our families to support our students.


Principally Speaking is a monthly article, contributed by principals from Escalon Unified School District sites, throughout the school year. It is designed to update the community on school events and activities.