Student Intervention Team (SIT)

When IDEA was reauthorized in 2004 into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, (IDEA 2004), President Bush in essence required regular education to monitor and measure a student’s response to an individual intervention in the regular education classroom. During the 2007-2008 school year, four elementary schools in Georgetown County implemented Response to Intervention or RtI.

In Georgetown County, the School Intervention Team (SIT) will be a part of the RtI process, as the individual student’s progress is monitored and instructional decisions are made based on on-going data collection.

Why is the SIT - RtI process necessary?

The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education published A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Their Families in July, 2002. According to that report:

Young people with disabilities drop out of high school at twice the rate of their peers.

Enrollment rates of students with disabilities in higher education are still 50 percent lower than enrollment among the general population.

Most public school educators do not feel well prepared to work with children with disabilities. In 1998, only 21 percent of public school teachers said they felt very well prepared to address the needs of students with disabilities, and another 41 percent said they felt moderately well prepared.

Of the six million children in special education, almost half of those are identified as having a “specific learning disability”. In fact, this group has grown more than 300 percent since 1976.

Of those with “specific learning disabilities”, 80 percent are there simply because they haven’t learned how to read. Thus, many children receiving special education - up to 40 percent - are there because they weren’t taught to read. The reading difficulties may not be their only area of difficulty, but it is the area that resulted in special education placement. Sadly, few children placed in special education close the achievement gap to a point where they can read and learn like their peers.

Children of minority status are over-represented in some categories of special education. African-American children are twice as likely as white children to be labeled mentally retarded and placed in special education. They are also more likely to be labeled emotionally disturbed and placed in special education.

Consider these local statistics which represent the challenges many of our own students face:

In 2008, 61% of GCSD students were eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch.

The drop-out rate in GCSD was 3.5% in 2007. The graduation rate was 78.8%.

More than 13 % of students in GCSD receive special education services.

In 2007, the graduation rate for white students in the GCSD was 85.1%, while the graduation rate for African-American students was 75.1%.

In 2007, 25.6% of all GCSD students taking the English / Language Arts portion of PACT scored below basic.

22.6% of all students taking the Mathematics portion of PACT scored below basic.

The SIT / RTI process is needed to:

  • Provide high quality instruction / intervention matched to student needs, with monitoring of progress to obtain data for educational decision making.
  • Improve achievement for all students in the general education curriculum.

  • Reduce barriers to learning by offering a variety of academic and instructional strategies that can help struggling students.
  • Reduce inappropriate referrals to special education which will address over-representation of minority students in special education.


The School Intervention Team is a team of school-based personnel which serves as a support for students and their teachers. All teachers have had students with unique problems that may not have been previously encountered, and they may be unsure of how to handle them. Teachers may feel uncomfortable discussing a student with whom they feel their success has been limited; however, the students we are asked to teach in schools now come to us with more differences than ever! For that reason, students may not respond to traditional teaching methods, with results in many cases being less than satisfactory. It is important for teachers to accept that they cannot be all things to all students.

The School Intervention Team is designed to address concerns in three areas: behavioral, academic, or social. The SIT is a school resource and support with which to assess students’ needs in these areas, and to provide suggestions to the teacher. If a student is referred to SIT for behavior concerns, a Behavior Intervention Plan should be the first course of action.

Georgetown County School District is committed to the concept of the School Intervention Team and its value in helping to determine the distinction between children with differences and those with possible disabilities. All children have learning needs but not all are disabled. The School Intervention Team is not designed to be the direct avenue to special services. Rather, it is designed to prevent identification of children as disabled prior to all other regular education options being exhausted. It is primarily intended to be a support system to teachers, parents and other professionals within a school. Not only is this process designed to help students, parents and teachers with issues that may arise, it is fully consistent with Federal and State guidelines regarding students with disabilities.

The purpose of this handbook is to assist school-based Teams in their development and implementation of successful and effective School Intervention Teams. We will illustrate the design of Teams as well as the responsibilities of the Teams and their members. Suggestions for proper referrals to the teams will be provided. Suggestions for appropriate interventions will be discussed.

Core Principles of the School Intervention Team

  • We can effectively teach all children.
  • Intervene early.
  • Use a problem solving method to make instructional and intervention decisions.
  • Use evidence-based interventions and instruction.
  • Use data to drive decision making.

Who participates in School Intervention Teams as team members?

At a minimum, the team must be comprised of:

  • General education teachers
  • Guidance Counselor(s)
  • Requesting teacher and /or other staff members.
  • Parent or guardian.
  • Building administrator

The team members listed above would serve the following roles:

  • SIT chairperson - chairs meeting, sets meeting schedules, receives requests for assistance, gathers necessary information in advance of meetings, notifying parents, etc. It is a person who is in the school full time who has ready access to student records. This person must have full knowledge and understanding of the process.
  • Recorder - takes notes, fills out forms, and organizes documents.
  • Timekeeper - helps team stay on track and on schedule.
  • Data Manager - stays in contact with referring teacher to monitor progress of intervention.

The school psychologist may attend SIT meetings. The school psychologist may be consulted regarding intervention implementation and / or progress monitoring.

Others who have particular expertise in helping students with academic and/or behavioral difficulty may be a part of the team; however, they would not necessarily serve on a continuing basis:

Guidance counselors, nurses, speech therapists, department chairs, mental health counselor, ESL teacher, agency personnel (DSS, etc.), special education teachers, etc.

A school administrator is a necessary member of SIT. The most successful SIT teams tend to be those with the most creatively designed interventions. In many instances, those cases with more unusual solutions will require the support and/or permission of an administrator.

Regular classroom teachers must participate on the SIT. The core SIT team should be composed of several teachers who are constant members of the team. Theses teachers might be specialists in their field, with the most experience.

The configuration of the SIT is to meet the needs of the individual school. The SIT is a group of colleagues in a school that is in place to provide non-threatening, supportive assistance to a teacher concerning a particular situation or student. The choice of SIT members is critical to the success of the team. The SIT must have an air of respect and positive collaboration to provide the support needed.

Who refers to the SIT?

Of course, the teacher will be the most common referral source; however, there may be other people who refer. Parents can and do refer, as do outside agencies or physicians. We always acknowledge these referrals with the explanation that the referral will be forwarded to the school’s SIT. The SIT team will then proceed with this referral as any other. Any problem that occurs through this type of referral can be directed to the District Office for assistance.

What are the procedures that the Intervention Team is expected to follow?

When a teacher realizes the presence of a problem, one of the first steps is to contact the parent. This initial contact will serve to notify the parent of the existence of a problem and to gain any available information from the parent as to possible solutions or causes. This contact is expected to have occurred before referral to the Intervention Team. The Teacher fills out form Parent Conference Notes discussing teacher’s concerns, alternative strategies for student success, and strategies outcomes.

The Chairperson is the person who will be responsible for scheduling the meetings and the presentations by teachers. If a school has a pre-determined schedule with each case being allotted a particular length of time for presentation, the Teams run more smoothly. The timekeeper should be the one to ensure that the meetings occur in a proper and timely manner.

Step 1: The SIT Team Leader receives Parent Conference Notes and gives the teacher SIT Request Form.

Step 2: The SIT Team Leader receives the SIT Request Form and Student Data Evidence. Team Leader may receive Parent Version for SIT Meeting.

The following procedures are followed:

  • Make sure the SIT Request Form is completely filled out.
  • Begins to complete the SIT Student Cover Sheet.
  • Set date / time for SIT meeting.
  • Notify parent / guardian of meeting.
  • Send Permission to Screen Form home for parent to sign for sensory screening (vision/hearing/speech and language).
  • Email team members of upcoming SIT meeting.
  • If permission is obtained, complete appropriate screenings.

Examples of Student Data: Standard based work samples, observations, testing data, attendance records, discipline referrals, permanent record, etc.

Step 3: The Team Leader facilitates the Initial SIT Meeting.

  • Review the SIT Request Form - share documentation of the student concern, discuss information, ask questions.
  • Determine the student’s goal - What is the academic or behavioral goal for this student?
  • Develop academic and / or behavioral strategies -

Examples of academic and behavioral instructional strategies:

    Instructional accommodations

    Modified curriculum / demands


A strategy is the utilization of any of a school’s resources that may be available, as well as, resources within the district or community.

An intervention is the utilization of an evidence based program of instruction to address a specific academic and or behavioral need or weakness.

Materials modification

Alternative materials

Small-group instruction


Daily guided reading

Learning strategies

ESL support

Assistive technology

Daily behavior chart


Acknowledge positive behavior

Assigned seating

Rearrange physical setting

Peer mediation

Time out


Problem-solving conference

Parent conference

Attendance monitoring

In-school counseling

In-school suspension

Extended learning opportunities

Enrichment program


Other school programs

Other agency services

Refer to Pre-Referral Intervention Manual

Mental health counseling

  • Implement a structured academic/behavioral intervention based on the student’s area of identified weakness - such as (based on available resources at each school):

Extra Successmaker

SRA Corrective Reading


Harcourt Intervention small-group instruction

Read Naturally

The SIT Initial Meeting Form and the Intervention Planning, Implementation, and Monitoring Form is completed.

Step 4: The Team makes recommendations to implement, monitor, and evaluate academic and / or behavioral instructional strategies.

The Data Manager follows up with the teacher or other staff member on a weekly basis to find out how implementation is going, and if help is needed. The Progress Monitoring Data Form is completed to assess progress. If necessary, the SIT team can reconvene earlier than planned if:

  • the strategy or intervention is clearly not working,
  • new information is received that impacts decision making,
  • or the parent or teacher requests it.

Step 5: The Team Leader sets up meeting to complete Ongoing/Final Meeting Report.

A follow-up meeting will be scheduled. The teacher then reports success or failure of the implemented intervention at the agreed-upon time of the follow-up meeting. The Progress Monitoring Data Form must be reviewed. The team will recommend an intervention for the teacher to attempt. It is always important to understand that to determine the proper outcome, there must be a mechanism to measure the progress, so that will need to be established at the time of the meeting. Then the team will determine how long this intervention should last; once that time has elapsed, the team will reconvene-at that time, either the intervention will be amended, continued with no change, or discontinued.

If there is to be a change to the intervention, the team will do as before-determine how to measure the outcome. The length of time of these interventions will vary but must be long enough but not too long.

At some point, there must be a determination made by the team of the next step. It is critical to understand that if the team has determined that all reasonable attempts to intervene have not been successful, it must refer for consideration for special education services. A school psychologist must always be at that meeting to help begin to move the process forward in a timely manner.

When you say intervention, what do you mean?

Once the problem is identified, a strategy or an intervention is designed to help (or intervene) with that problem. The intervention must be evidence-based in nature.

What is an evidence-based intervention?

Evidence-based instructional programs are “programs that have been found through scientifically based research to significantly improve the academic achievement of participating children or have strong evidence that they will achieve this result.” (Brown-Chidsey and Steege, 2005).

The following websites provide information on intervention programs that have been evaluated and rated on criteria for scientifically / research based:

Bear in mind that an intervention should not be so extensive that the classroom curriculum or environment is altered significantly to accommodate one student. An effective intervention is one that is helpful to the child (and teacher) but not disruptive to the entire instructional process.

The key to successful intervention is to specify an individual aspect of a problem. For example, if a child is performing poorly in reading, focus on one aspect of that reading process to intervene. It may be that the child does not know vowel sounds, among other things. The intervention might take the position of having the teacher spend ten minutes a day individually with the student working on the vowel sounds. The teacher could pre-test the student on the task, work on the intervention for a month, then posttest. If good results occur, then the teacher might move on to another reading skill. If results are poor, the Team might suggest an alternative intervention.

The same strategy could be tried with math. Try focusing on an aspect of the problem; it is not necessary to attack the whole problem! This time, it might be for the student to receive individual help from a peer tutor for several weeks. Again, be sure to pre- and post-test. That is the documentation.

Behaviors might be a little tricky. Suppose a child is very disruptive, consistently does not do work, constantly out of seat, argues with the teacher continuously. A proper strategy is for the teacher to decide which individual behavior to address, (the behavior of most significant negative impact on learning), and then set up a plan to address that behavior. First determine the number of times (frequency) that behavior occurs within a set length of time, implement the behavior strategy, then see if the frequency decreases. Remember, behaviors often get worse before improvement is seen! Allow time for this escalation before "giving up" on the intervention.


DIBELS: This site provides information regarding The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), a thoroughly researched, reliable and valid indicator of early literacy development and predictor of later reading proficiency to aid in the early identification of students who are not progressing as expected.

Just Read, Florida: This web site contains information regarding Florida's reading initiative based on the latest reading research that includes emphasis on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Florida Center for Reading Research: This web site contains research-based information about reading in a user-friendly form. This web site is designed to provide comprehensive information about the 3-Tier Reading Model, including specific information on instruction and materials at each level of intervention. This web site provides a variety of articles addressing RtI as it relates to the revisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004.

National Reading Panel: This web site is updated regularly with information about NRP publications and materials, as well as upcoming speaking engagements by Panel members. This site is also an archive, featuring the congressional charge to the NRP, biographies of NRP members, meeting minutes, and other historical information.

Big Ideas in Beginning Reading: This web site is designed to provide information, technology, and resources to teachers, administrators, and parents. It includes definitions and descriptions of the research and theories behind each of the five big ideas of reading, describes how to assess the big ideas, gives information on how to teach the big ideas including instructional examples, and finally, shows how to put it all together in your school.

Oregon Reading First: A review of supplemental and intervention reading programs.

Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education: Web site for a research center created by Johns Hopkins University and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). This center, the Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education (CDDRE), focuses on helping low-performing schools meet their states' academic performance standards. Web site for the National Association of School Psychologists which represents and supports school psychology through leadership to enhance the mental health and educational competence of all children. The National Center on Student Progress Monitoring is a national technical assistance and dissemination center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education. The site is devoted to the implementation of scientifically based student progress monitoring for grades K-5 and includes an evaluation of curriculum based measurement tools. The What Works Clearinghouse was established in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide educators, policymakers, researchers and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education. The site contains reports, product information and technical assistance. This website offers free tools and resources to help school staff and parents promote positive classroom behaviors and foster effective learning for all children and youth. The site includes academic and behavioral intervention strategies, free publications on effective teaching practices, and tools for classroom assessment and intervention. This web site is designed for parents and teachers dedicated to improving early literacy skills. Resources address assessment, identification and teaching young struggling readers. This site is dedicated to providing reliable, parent-friendly information. This web site is dedicated to learning disabilities, learning disorders and differences. Guidance for parents and teachers is provided on a multitude of topics including attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and instructional strategies. The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD) conducts research on the identification of learning disabilities; formulates implementation recommendations; disseminates findings; and provides technical assistance to states, school districts and other agencies.

How long should an intervention last?

There is no set length for an appropriate intervention. As with all other educational concerns, the length will be determined by the needs of the individual student; however, a general rule is that it should certainly last long enough to determine what progress (if any) occurs. Usually six weeks is sufficient for the first intervention. It is important to note that any intervention can last longer, with modifications. It is rare that no further interventions are indicated before referral to special services.

Behavioral interventions are occasionally problematic in that the student may begin to demonstrate worse behavior as the interventions are initiated. This is to be expected and is not a sign of a failed intervention.

Interventions should be described in an objective manner that can be measured to the maximum extent possible. For example, if a strategy in dealing with a poor behavior is attempted, the length of time of the strategy should be written, the number of occurrences of the behavior both before and after the intervention should be documented. This leaves no room for disagreement at a later date as to interpreting the effectiveness of the strategy!

What about paperwork?

As with any process within the school, the School Intervention Team is expected to document all meetings as well as outcomes of interventions. This is important for two reasons:

First, whenever a student is experiencing difficulty, efforts to assist that student are documented. The forms for use by the Intervention Team are available from the

School Intervention Team Chairperson and in the Intervention Handbook.

Secondly, if this student is referred for a psychoeducational evaluation, the Intervention Team paperwork will become the referral packet.

Note that one form is a letter that goes to the parent to notify them that their child is being referred to the SIT and to invite their participation. It is critical, and required, that as much input from the parents as possible be obtained. Be certain to document all attempts to involve the parent as well as all meetings and conferences.

Permission is needed if particular procedures are to be carried out as a part of this process. For example, if a child needs a vision, hearing, or speech screening, and is not of the grade level where mass screenings occur, parent permission is required.

There may be other screening procedures that the Team may want to accomplish. The Permission for Screening by SIT / RtI Team form must be completed and parent signature obtained. The screening information should be obtained prior to the SIT meeting.

Wording in the documentation is critical. Everything that is written should be concise, objective, and non-judgmental from the writer. Behaviors should be directly observable with no interpretation being offered as to intent or emotional state. This is significant because if the child is referred to the psychologist, the SIT packet becomes a part of the student's special education record. That means that at any time, an outside person (i.e., lawyer, advocate, etc.) may gain access to the record and Georgetown County School District will be accountable for its contents. So it is important to write in a non-inflammatory style when writing about the child.

How long does the SIT team stay involved with a student?

If the student is referred by the SIT for a psychoeducational evaluation, during the evaluation process, the student will continue to receive an appropriate intervention and progress monitoring as recommended by the SIT. The evaluation and all data will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team for eligibility determination. The chairperson of the SIT will be informed of the results of the multidisciplinary team determination and recommendations. If the student qualifies for special education, the multidisciplinary team will convene to develop the individualized education program (IEP) to begin those services. However, the School Intervention Team should reconvene to develop a further plan to help that student if there will be no IEP.

A Note on ADHD

Many times behaviors relating to attention, hyperactivity, and organizational skills are addressed in SIT meetings. Many times, the Team will be quick to determine it is ADHD. In a word, DON'T!!

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS with medical treatment often indicated. Under no circumstances should the SIT indicate that a child may have ADHD. There are serious legal issues associated with that kind of statement. The behaviors listed above often can be addressed through behavior management plans and good teaching strategies.

It is best for the Team not to suggest that a parent take a child to a doctor. It is imperative that the Team not even mention that the child may have ADHD.

What about retention and expulsion as interventions?

There are two immediate concerns that need to be brought to the attention of each School Intervention Team. The first is academic and relates to retentions. If a teacher has a child that is repeating the grade, that is an automatic indication of a need to review that child's progress. It may be that the child is doing well in the repeated grade; if so, the retention was successful. However, it is usually quite obvious to a teacher if the retention is not going to work for a child. If this is found to be the case, that child can be quickly referred to the Team shortly after the beginning of the school year. The paperwork should simply reflect that the retention is not being effective through careful documentation of course.

If a student is referred to SIT for behavior concerns, a Behavior Intervention Plan should be the first course of action. The second immediate concern is behavioral and involves students who have been expelled. If a child has been expelled and the behaviors continue the second year with expulsion becoming a real possibility for the second time, that child should be discussed at the School Intervention Team. This is indicative that the expulsion was not effective. It is necessary to show how specific behaviors are being addressed through behavior management plans which can be recommended through the Team.

In both cases, (retention and expulsion), early detection of continuation of these same problems for the second consecutive year do indicate a referral for evaluation through Special Services is entirely appropriate.


GeorgetownCountySchool District Student Assistance Team Training Manual

Angell, Carol A. (2006). Evidence-Based Education: Examining Today’s Research for Tomorrow’s Decisions. LRP Publications

Brown-Chidsey, R. & Steege, M.W. (2005) Response to Intervention: Principles and Strategies for Effective Practice. Guilford Press: New York

The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Their Families July, 2002.

The District of Columbia Public Schools Student Support Teams Manual.

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