Student Support Team
The Student Support Team (SST) is a collaborative problem-solving process in every Georgia school. Its purpose is to find ways around roadblocks to academic, behavioral, and social-emotional success for any student referred to it. As part of the MTSS process, SST considers the individual needs of students in order to develop and refine plans that includes supports and evidence-based intensive intervention strategies designed to close skills gaps and increase success in school. SSTs are most effective in schools where collective responsibility of all students is the norm and collaborative data-based decision making is consistently supported.
A number of recent events and decisions, both national and state, have placed markedly increased importance on the SST process:
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has been strongly emphasized by the federal government as applicable to the schools' handling of certain student difficulties. SST documentation can meet most Section 504 requirements.
- The realization that conditions beyond mere academics play a pivotal role for students at risk of failure. The success of the broad approach used by Student Assistance Programs (SAP, from the federal Drug-Free Schools initiative) has shown the value of collaboration, especially across agencies.
- School-based management and problem solving have become one of the recognized successes in the national education reform movement.
- Increased concern about school safety has called for better classroom behavior management. Collective wisdom of SST members assists teachers with this.
All Forsyth County Schools have a designated coordinator supporting effective implementation of the SST process. Implementation involves six basic steps that focus on individual student needs, learning styles, program effectiveness, and home/school communication. These steps are as follows:
- Gathering Information: Prior to and during the first meeting, team members gather as much relevant information as possible regarding the student's past and present educational, behavioral, and social-emotional performance. Information should be gathered from a variety of sources including parents, official school records, and anecdotal records.
- Assessment (if necessary) and Evaluation of Data: The team meets to discuss and interpret the information available to them. The team may decide that more information is needed and develop a plan for obtaining the information.
- Development of Educational Plan: After evaluating the existing information, the team develops an educational plan specific to the student's strengths and weaknesses. Strategies and techniques are brainstormed and agreed upon by all those involved in the implementation process. A timeline for follow-up and evaluation of progress is established.
- Implementation of Educational Plan: The educational plan is implemented for a specified time period. Additional data is gathered if needed.
- Evaluation of Progress: The SST reconvenes to discuss progress and additional data. The educational plan is changed as needed. Further course of action is discussed.
- Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation: The SST monitors student progress and alters the plan as is necessary. If the educational plan is effective, and no disability is suspected, the team should meet periodically to discuss the student's progress.
At any time during this process, if the team has sufficient evidence that the student has a disability, the team should determine whether an evaluation or 504 Plan is necessary. For students with obvious severe disabilities and/or crisis and for whom delay of referral to special education or other supplemental or support services would be detrimental to the student, the SST may bypass implementation of alternative strategies prior to referral. The reason(s) for bypassing this process must be clearly documented in the SST minutes.
When a student makes sufficient progress and/or strategies are no longer needed, the SST may dismiss the student from the process. Records of the SST activity are part of the student's permanent record and thus should follow the student as he/she progresses through the educational system.
For additional information: