TSTP in Action
Jessica is a fourth grade student who is unable to complete the Performance Series testing due to abilities that are below a second grade level. Jessica has been identified as Learning Disabled in the areas of reading decoding and comprehension, and in math computation. An IEP is developed. Parents are asked to complete a Student Profile so the TST may look more closely at Jessica's developmental history. This profile indicates that Jessica experienced a difficult delivery that caused trauma to the newborn. Parents were told that learning would likely always be difficult for Jessica. An individualized plan focusing on the areas of reading and mathematics is written to support Jessica in the classroom. This plan comprehensively addresses specific academic areas of need and is used in conjunction with the IEP goals/objectives. Neuro-Reading sessions are initiated mid-spring. Jessica receives thirty minutes of 1:1 individualized reading instruction daily in addition to her regular classroom reading activities. She is also assigned to a small math group pull-out to assist her in mastering computation skills. Her progress is reviewed every 10 weeks. As she continues to make progress, she is reassigned to a Neuro-Reading pull-outs. She is given the Performance Series testing one year later. Her scores in reading have gone from <2.0 to a 5.7 grade level. Mathematics has likewise improved from a 2.9 to a 4.9 grade level. She no longer qualifies for special education services as she is now performing at and above grade level. The classroom teachers have received minimal training so they will understand what strategies Jessica has learned to help her be successful. Jessica will be encouraged by her teachers to continue to utilize the strategies in the classroom setting.
Seth joins the school in kindergarten. Shortly after he begins his year, he becomes aggressive towards staff and students. His teacher reports that he exhibits an instant temper and can be difficult to work with in the classroom. The teacher decides to bring him to the TST. The assistant principal, teacher consultant, and occupational therapist (OT) are assigned to observe Seth in his classroom. The school social worker is assigned the task of making contact with the parents. Seth is put on a "watch" and his progress is regularly discussed at future TST meetings. The social worker learns that Seth has been adopted from overseas. Seth was a complacent and happy baby. However, most developmental milestones were late in appearing. As he got older, he developed hyposensitive tendencies. He is finally diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder through an independent evaluation completed by the parents. The OT notices several inconsistencies in Seth's gross motor ability. While the screening when he entered kindergarten indicated no immediate concerns regarding his gross motor ability, the OT is able to identify more discrete problems. Seth is immediately placed in a gross motor pull-out group where a plan is put in place to meet his individual needs. He is also placed in a connecting group where he can begin to work on socially appropriate skills. He is paired with an older student who mentors him. He is given scheduled breaks throughout his day which allow him to make contact with people that are closest to him at the school. Within weeks of beginning his pull-outs, Seth developed coping skills which allowed him to be more successful in his classroom setting. Referrals to the office dissipated over time. He has formed warm and caring relationships throughout the school environment.
Elizabeth is a middle school student. When she arrives in the 6th grade, her mother comes to the school to talk with the principal about her frustrations with the previous special education classrooms her daughter has been in. Elizabeth is brought to the next TST meeting. Mom is asked to attend as well so she can share information about her daughter with the team. Mom has terminated all special education services with her previous district. The team completes screening tests. Elizabeth's reading scores are at a 2.2 grade level, her math at a 1.1 grade level. She is unable to track when reading, she calculates all of her math facts by counting on her fingers, she cannot cross her midline, and becomes emotional when asked to attempt a task she perceives as difficult. She is assigned to Integrated Visual Learning, Neuro-Reading, and math pull-outs over the next two years in various intervals. An individual plan is written to support Elizabeth's academic success. Mom is invited to assist in writing and monitoring the goals and objectives in the plan. This plan is updated frequently to match Elizabeth's learning. Mom receives a copy of the plan each marking period with specific comments about each of the goals and Elizabeth's success in meeting them. By spring of her second year, Elizabeth is now reading at a 5.8 grade level, and her math scores have improved to a 4.8 grade level. While still behind her age peers, she has made a three and a half year gain in both her reading and math ability in 17 months. A new individualized plan is written to support her needs in the fall when she returns to school. She is assigned to continue with two of her pull-outs. This assures that her needs are being met immediately and that her teachers will know exactly how to help Elizabeth be successful in her new setting. Elizabeth no longer sees herself as a failure and is committed to being the best student she can be. Her new plan will include her being directly involved in setting weekly goals to enable her to monitor her own progress and successes.
Kevin enters the school as a first grader with an IEP for autism. His IEP is immediately reconvened with a variety of supports put in place. He is scheduled to be brought to the TST. Standardized testing reveals he is reading at a 2.3 grade level, and math scores are at a kindergarten level. Kevin has had a myriad of health struggles throughout his lifetime. He is leery of his new surroundings having spent much of his young life in the hospital. Screening indicates he has poor oculomotor skills, cannot cross his midline, and weak gross motor skills. His reading is above his grade level, his math below. Looking at him from a developmental perspective, it is imperative to work on his fundamental skills before attempting to "fix" the academic skills. Kevin is assigned to a gross motor pull-out. Given his weak muscle tone, this group is continued for five 10-week sessions. He is able to successfully pass his gross motor screening at this time. He is placed on a sensory diet to help in supporting the sensory issues that remain. He receives a 1:1 sensory break for 10 minutes daily for a period of four months. As he was nearing the completion of his gross motor group, he was placed in an ocularmotor pull-out. Here he worked on his poor fixation. This is corrected in less time than prescribed. He is also placed in a connecting group where he learns the social skills necessary to enable him to be a successful participant in his classroom. By the end of his third grade year, his reading scores are now at a 4.9 grade level, and his math at a 3.9 grade level. By working on the fundamental skills, his academic skills were improved without requiring additional pull-out services. Based on the scores he is now manifesting, he is tested for a gifted and talented program -- which he qualifies for with ease.
Christina entered the school in the fall of her kindergarten year. She was screened and it was noted that she was unable to skip, had weak running skills, was unable to cross her midline, could not imitate movement, and had poor static and dynamic balance. She was brought to the first TST meeting of the new school year. Christina was placed in a gross motor pull-out to begin working on the areas indicated in her screening. However, the team needed further information. The classroom teacher was asked to complete a Student Profile with Christina's parents. Additional testing to be collected included an IVL battery to determine if an oculomotor problem existed, a Slosson to measure ability levels, and the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts. When the team reconvened in five weeks, they had a new batch of information to look at. Christina's parents noted that she was labeled with "failure to thrive" shortly after her birth. Christina scored just above average limits in her ability and oculomotor testing. However, she did not know most of the basic concepts as indicated by her Boehm testing. Gross motor work continued throughout the school year -- both in and out of the classroom setting. Christina was able to pass most areas of screening by springtime; however, she still exhibited difficulty in understanding her Boehm concepts, and continued to struggle with static and dynamic balance. A recommendation was made to keep her in kindergarten for an additional year and change her program from ? day every day, to a full day. Christina was rescreened in the fall and it was determined that she would continue to benefit from a gross motor pull-out. By February she had mastered all areas of the gross motor testing. She was given the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts and was now able to pass it with 98% proficiency. It was time for her to move to first grade, so plans were made by the TST to support her learning at a higher level. When she was moved, she received two sessions of guided reading every day in her classroom setting. Her DRA score at the end of the year was at a level 25 (solidly at a mid-second grade level).
TST Staff Stories
I was assigned to an autistic child starting in 1st grade. The student was unable to cross his mid-line. He was a distraction to the classroom, unable to follow teacher directions or sit through family meeting on his own. Each day we would do Brain Gym, now he is in 5th grade and has become a model student, completing work on his own. The teacher has told me she would like more students like him and that he is an example for the other students to follow.
David was in his 5th term in a particular unit. He was having difficulty learning to read. He joined the balametrics group for 10 weeks. During this time he also worked in an intensive pull-out reading group to work on his reading skills. He worked on recognition of sight words, reading leveled books, LEA (language experience approach) and spelling during this group. He started these pull-out groups in Dec. 2008 and his DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) was level 4, a Kindergarten to beginning 1st grade reading level at that time. Following these two interventions, David’s new DRA in September 2009 was level 28, an end of 2nd grade to beginning 3rd grade reading level. He has made significant gains in his reading and is reading at grade level. David now reads for enjoyment.
Jesse was added to an intensive pull-out math group following a special education evaluation. He had difficulty with all components of math. He started working on basic addition/subtraction and numeration concepts and later progressed to higher level math concepts. Jesse had to continue in the IPO math group for 1.5 years. He is now in the general education classroom making progress with the math curriculum. Jesse’s success in math was measured with the performance series test, a computerized test in math and reading. When he started the math group, his score was <2.0 for math. Following the 1.5 years in the math group, Jesse scored 4.0 on the test which was at grade level.
I was assigned to work with a kindergartener and was informed that she had suffered from seizures as a baby and had been on very strong medication for a period of time to control them. Her mother informed us that she had been told that she would have academic struggles and most likely not learn to read. I first assessed her and knew she needed lots of activities to help with her gross motor skills. One thing that was an issue for her was balance. I incorporated the use of the balance beam and added some simple exercises to help her learn to point her eyes, then on to some convergence and divergence activities. She gained these skills with lots of work. She was then put into Neuro Reading and continued with it through the 5th grade. She in now an eight grader and is a very capable of doing her work up to grade level and is even tops in her Literacy group. She still struggles some with math but is a beautiful young lady who is a competent and a positive role model student. Persistence Pays.
I have had a success case with one of our students receiving language therapy and neuro reading. I began language therapy for a moderate/severe expressive language impairment. Another intervention assistant began Neuro Reading in Oct of 2008 and I began my therapy in Dec of 2008. The student did not have functional reading/writing skills and could not respond to a simple question on topic. Last fall, 2009 all of our work came together . He is now a second grader, reading is above grade level and he is the “star” in my language group. We have him reading to a kindergarten class. It has been wonderful to work/consult with the other intervention assistant and coordinate/plan our efforts. His teachers are thrilled!
Adam was a learning disabled high school student when he came to me. He had met with academic failure throughout his school career. Now in the 11th grade he held little hope that anything would change. Reading at a third grade level was as far as he had been able to go. I asked him if he was willing to work one on one with me to improve his reading skill. He was skeptical - and reticent as he didn't want to be seen as different from his peers. We decided to meet after school so he wouldn't miss any class time. We began using the skills from the Neuro-Learning program, meeting daily for the remainder of the year (4 months total). By the time Adam reached his senior year his reading skills improved from a 3rd grade reading level to an 11th grade reading level. He successfully graduated from high school, was successful in a business track at a community college, and went on to own his own heating and cooling business.