By Kelly Reeves
Meridian Times staff writer
Kinawa 5-6 School in Okemos began a response to intervention program this past fall to help students with areas they are struggling in such as math, study skills, behavior and literacy.
John Hood, Kinawa 5-8 principal, and leader of the 5-6 program, said during the Okemos Public School Board Meeting Feb. 14, that 5th and 6th grade is really the last time for the students to build their foundational knowledge before it is expected to be understood in 7th and 8th grade.
“Students that are in 5th grade and are struggling have been pulled out for any kind of intervention or enrichment, and in 6th grade that support was offered through exploratory class periods,” said Interim Deputy Superintendent Patricia Trelstad.
Hood said that Kinawa teachers have always known who is struggling, but teachers and administrators are now gathering data to figure out why these students are struggling, what particular area they are struggling in and if they are responding to intervention. These students are in smaller, more focused classes. Teachers are seeing that some students are closing the gap and some are not.
Intervention programs are offered throughout the day and class sizes are typically around three to 12 students. Research from the Institute of Educational Science shows that these students are already behind grade level, so they need to be given focused intervention in smaller group sessions, Hood said during the meeting.
Hood said that the faculty has taken positive, strong steps this year to make sure they are meeting the needs of all learners, but the road is long and filled with lots of potholes so they are learning along the way.
“This district implemented this plan to help students struggling in school and is training teachers to notice when a student might not be at the level they should be,” said Trelstad.
Sue Angell, intervention specialist, said that intervention teams go off to the training and are presented with research, conducted by the Institute of Educational Science. They looked at what seems to give the biggest payoff for the best practices of teachers across the country.
The five biggest recommendations were to provide explicit vocabulary instructions, direct explicit comprehension, have extended discussion of text meaning, increase student motivation and engagement and making sure we have individualized interventions in place, said Angell.
“I really think it is helping the students. Their progress is monitored every two weeks so we can see what development has been made, and it seems to be working,” said Trelstad.