After my first experience using a social-emotional-behavioral screener, I wrote a post sharing what the experience was like. I touched a little on how I used the data, but I’ve continued to get more (really great!) questions asking for more details.
This post answers the question “What exactly do I do after I’ve used a screener to identify my at-risk students?”
If you haven’t used a universal screener before, or just want to read more about using one, check out this post before you keep reading here.
You’ve chosen a screener, trained the teachers on it, and you’ve gotten all the data. What do you do now?
Share the Data
Our first step after compiling the data is to schedule meetings with each grade level team. The purpose of these meetings is to share the data and make action plans. Sometimes, we show compiled data for the grade (the triangles or not-exactly-triangles showing the proportion of students at each risk level for internalizing and externalizing concerns.
One purpose for this is that it may illustrate grade level wide concerns. If the triangle is really out of whack, that might mean a change/increase in tier 1 supports is needed. Another purpose is to de-stigmatize having students who need supports. There are always some teachers who believe that if a student in their class is identified as needing intervention, they’ve done something wrong or they aren’t a good teacher. We know this isn’t true, but it can help them understand this if they see (big picture) how many students need extra support.
Discuss Students Identified as At-Risk
Next, we go through each student whose score indicated they were at moderate or high risk. This specifically means risk of developing significant internalizing or externalizing concerns. We usually start with internalizing.
For each student, we ask:
- Are they already receiving any tiered support? (seeing an outside therapist, on the school social worker’s caseload, has social/emotional goals in their IEP, or has accommodations/modifications on a 504 Service Plan to support a social/emotional/behavioral disability)
- If yes, are we seeing progress? (this question applies more for the second and third rounds of the screener) If not, someone is assigned responsibility for checking in with their case manager or support to discuss intensifying or changing their intervention(s).
- If no, then we continue with the next questions.
- Do we think this student needs an intervention to be more successful in school/prevent their struggles from escalating?
- Sometimes the answer is no! It could be that the student has traits or behaviors that make them score “at-risk” but that stakeholders are not concerned that they will become truly problematic. With these students, we decide on “watchful waiting” – no interventions, but we keep a closer eye on them. Or, the teacher is concerned but they are going to begin providing additional supports within the classroom.
- If the answer is yes, we briefly discuss if the student is a candidate for group counseling. This is often the case for most of the students flagged for externalizing and several for internalizing.
Determine Specific Social/Emotional Needs
While I think the SRSS-IE screener is really great, the only information it provides is the risk level for internalizing concerns and the risk level for externalizing concerns. It doesn’t tell you anything that would help to guide your intervention. For students who are going to be in a group, more information is needed.
I use this brief skills assessment tool. It asks teachers to score students compared to others in their grade in the following:
- Relationship Skills
- Emotional Skills
- Learner Skills
- Decision-Making Skills
- Self-Concept Skills
Skills assessment, caregiver notes, pre/post surveys, and more to get groups organized and running smoothly!
If a student is identified as a group candidate during the meeting, I ask the teacher to fill this out (it’s fast and easy). Teachers often struggle, especially on the spot, to state what a student needs help with in order to thrive at school – this form guides them through it!
Determine Specific Behavior Needs
If the student scores at-risk for externalizing concerns, and the teacher indicates they want support, you still need more information! What are the problem behaviors and when/where do they occur? What has the teacher already tried? Have they contacted the caregiver(s) yet? What seems to motivate the student?
In an ideal world, we’d be able to get these answers through a one-on-one consultation with the teacher. Or better yet, with a meeting that includes their caregiver(s). In the real world, you might not have enough time to do this for every single student in this category.
When that’s the case, I use a “Teacher Referral for Behavior Support” form. I hand it out to teachers right there in the meeting when this comes up, and often they’re able to complete it while we’re talking about students in a different room.
If this form would be helpful for you, you can grab it (for free!) here. It’s hosted on Dropbox and it’s an editable PowerPoint file. Download it and either edit it in PowerPoint or upload it to Google Slides to edit.
Document the Plans
I made a super simple spreadsheet for each grade level. During the meeting, this gets filled out for each student discussed to indicate next steps or watchful waiting. This document is CLUTCH. When you’re talking about 100+ students in a day, it’s easy to forget what was said or planned.
It had columns for student name, teacher name, already receiving supports (yes/no), behavior support form given (yes/no), group skills assessment given (yes/no), and action items (referral, watchful waiting, etc.). I’m a paper and pencil person to my core, but I would imagine most people would probably prefer something on their computer.
After the grade level team meetings, it’s time to review the spreadsheet notes and the additional forms completed by the teachers. And take action! At my last school, my co-counselor and I split tier 2/tier 3 intervention duties so we met together for this, but if you have a defined caseload or fly solo, this will be something you do yourself.
I like to look at all of the Skills Assessment surveys from each grade level (groups are usually scheduled by grade level). I find which students have the most overlapping needs and make sense to put together. There might be groups I’ve already identified a need for that I see new students to add to, or it could be starting from scratch to create the next round of groups.
Once I’ve got them sorted into groups, I can either identify which group counseling curriculum is a fit for them, or start creating an outline for the group and choosing resources for each session.
The outline I use for this is FREE and extremely helpful for both organizing and planning groups. The back has slots for writing in session topics/activities and weekly attendance. Sign up for the newsletter to get it emailed to you right away!
Note: In smaller schools, you might combine grade levels for groups. And/or if you have fewer students flagged in the screener, your might not be able to do skills-specific groups and might instead focus on developing resiliency.
Usually, I’m able to tell from the Teacher Referral for Behavior Support form what sort of behavior intervention to recommend and/or implement. The most common is usually Check In/Check Out (evidence-based tier 2 intervention that is pretty awesome), but I’ve had some students with school jobs, sticker charts, or other behavior interventions.
There’s some next steps to supporting “at-risk” students that aren’t about implementing a new intervention.
- For some students, the next step is making any needed referrals (to our school social worker or behavior analyst).
- If there’s a concern about a disability, it might mean starting the child study process (or jumping to a 504 meeting or a meeting involving the school psychologist).
- You may have students with outside therapists that you need to check in with, or who have a special education caseworker it makes sense to talk to. (It’s awesome when they can come to the meetings and provide input there, but often that’s not possible to schedule.)
- For kiddos the team has decided to watch and wait on, consider putting a note in your planner to either check in with their teacher in a few weeks, or to check in with the student themselves every three weeks or so.
That’s what the process looked like at my last school, and I think it was pretty effective. Leave a comment if you have any questions or want to share some of your school’s process!