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Thanks for your comment. For my final project, I am analyzing a fourth-grade student with chronic lying, stealing, and threatening. The IEP team is examining ways in which her behavior interferes both her learning and the learning of others. They are Patterns of Interfering Behaviors that prevent her from making friends and from being socially accepted. We ask ourselves what is the key behavior that interferes with this child’s ability to learn? For this student, anxiety, confusion, slow processing speed, stress, trauma, the inability to read, and adverse childhood experiences all appear to interfere with her ability to learn and make friends.
Patterns of Quality
My understanding/revision: Patterns of quality are behaviors that interfere with mastery/excellence. These patterns emerge in different ways. Examples of this pattern may be too much, too little, too fast, too slow, too loud, too soft. The educator is looking for behaviors that interfere in the quality of a student’s performance.
My example: A skill that I can technically do, but that isn’t necessarily done with complete accuracy is to conduct a functional behavior assessment. Identifying meaningful measurement criteria can be a struggle. Finding the time away from teaching to observe the student in need is always a challenge. Finding the antecedent and the consequence are often challenging. I rely on others to help collect data. As a learner I can be too rushed (not enough time). The support I need is to receive time away from my classes to observe the student in need over repeated occasions, collaborate with the child’s teacher, and reflect with professional colleagues about possible causes or motivations behind the behavior.
What do the identified patterns mean? I think the patterns mean that I have the general skill to complete the task of an FBA, but the quality of my product is negatively impacted when I don’t have the time to adequately collect sufficient data.
What does it tell you about yourself? I need to find ways to adequately observe students and collect data.
What are the implications? A thorough FBA is essential to the development of a meaningful and impactful behavior intervention plan. The implications of a poor-quality FBA and an under-developed (or mis-guided) behavior plan.
Patterns of Latency
My understanding/revision: Patterns of latency are behaviors that delay or conceal a learned skill. Patterns of latency are defined by how quickly a child does or does not respond.
My example: I need some think time when I solve mental math problems. When I am collaborating with a group to solve a problem, I stop thinking when others shout out their answer.
Patterns of Assistance
My understanding/revision: Patterns of assistance are behaviors that overly-rely on help. All learners need assistance at the beginning of a new skill. Some learners rely on this assistance past the time of typical development. When a student relies upon assistance from the environment, peers, and/or adults, in order to perform a task over time, concern may develop. The educational team will examine why a student waits for assistance when it is thought they can function independently.
My example: I should probably know how to change a tire at this point in my life, but I rely on my husband to do it, because it is an unpleasant task that I would rather avoid.
Patterns of Interfering Behaviors
My understanding/revision: Patterns of interfering behaviors are behaviors that prevent the completion of a process or activity. When developmental learning becomes stalled, the education team analyzes potential interfering behaviors. We ask ourselves what is the key behavior that interferes with this child’s ability to learn? For some students, anxiety, confusion, slow processing speed, stress, trauma, the inability to read, or adverse childhood experiences will interfere with their ability to learn.
Patterns of Unexpected Performance
My understanding/revision: Patterns of unexpected performance are behaviors/skills that weren’t predicted. When a student does something unexpected, or their learning is out of sequence, the education team may look for patterns to explain “Why?” Some students have splinter skills, or perform better in particular environments, or are really strong with certain skills but really weak in related areas.
I appreciate your comment. Kids can struggle in lots of different ways and for lots of different reasons. I work at a Title One school in which many students live below the poverty line, are in foster care, have a parent in jail, are exposed to domestic violence, have a parent who is illiterate or unemployed or drug addicted. So many of the kids with whom I work are mis-identified as having a disability when in fact, they are responding in natural and expected ways to trauma. Some kids can have Tier 1 academic skills in most areas but appear to be functioning at a Tier 3 level as the result of the impact of adverse childhood experiences.
No, not all Tier 3 needs are IEP worthy. Not all “Tier 3 needs” are a result of a disability, are having an adverse effect, require specially designed instruction, and are individually appropriate. Some Tier 3 needs will lessen over time as the child naturally develops new skills or simply grows and matures.
The “messy middle” encompasses all those times when students struggle learning a new or complex skill. Sometimes a student’s struggle turns into what an IEP team may determine to be IEP worthy. At other times, the need can be addressed through modifications, accommodations, and teaching.
Yes, a Tier 2 targeted need can be IEP worthy when it has an adverse effect, requires specially designed instruction, and is individually appropriate.
A child who is eligible for special education can have Tier 1 needs in other areas. For example, many students may be eligible for special education in reading, but not in math. I have some students who are fluent, Tier 1 readers, but are eligible for special education because of their inability to comprehend what they read.
Thank you for sharing what your school is doing to help kids who are struggling. In light of the loss of instruction over the last two years due to COVID’s interference with typical learning, a critical question in for our referral teams is: “What is a disability and what is a delay?” Nearly every student is behind. Many are struggling. Some teachers are quick to jump to the request for a sped referral. The implementation of the zig zag process helps to interrupt the knee jerk reaction to refer a student to special education.
Students who struggle and have significant learning needs, do not always qualify for Special Education. In my school, there are supports and resources in place that allow a child who struggles to receive high quality instruction:
We have an SST process in place to strategize interventions and then follow up to measure student progress.
The 504 plan is an alternate to special education for some students.
Several Title I tutors are available to work with students in tiers two and three who do not qualify for special education.
Additionally, we have tutors paid through a Johnson O’Malley Education grant whom work with students and their families.
We also have tutors working specifically with our at-risk Alaska Native youth.
We also have a clinician paid through an AK Rises grant working with students who have mental health needs.
In order to ensure a student receives what they need, even if they do not get an IEP, our school team takes steps through the SST process. As a special education teacher, I do not actively serve students not assigned to special education. I do, however, care about kids and contribute to the general dialog about student needs and services. Ultimately it falls upon the school counselor to ensure that our SST team is meeting regularly and students are receiving what they need.
Yes, our school district’s policy allows me to work with general education teachers to help kids who are not on my caseload. To clarify, I help teachers with ideas for interventions, but I do not directly help gen ed students.
In an ideal world, our SST process would be robust, consistent, thorough, meaningful, and useful. It cannot be my job to meet the needs of the struggling tier two gen ed students in our building. I have a case-load of 30 special education students for whom I am responsible.
I have observed the seven learning progressions in our Professional Learning Communities. Routinely, the best teachers meet to discuss the needs of students and intuitively move back and forth (zig-zag!) through the learning progressions. A good PLC is designed to help educators pinpoint how to support a child who may be having difficulty. The zig-zag process supports children’s learning needs.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I also develop an IEP with the focus of what the child needs and what services can be provided to meet those needs. I like the “IEP One-Pager” developed by Janice Fialka and plan to introduce it to my sped team in our next PLC
When I think about a PLAAFP, the criteria that really “matters” in determining an IEP goal is what the child is currently doing and what the team wants to see the child doing. Families’ priorities and concerns are a critical component of that criteria and absolutely given equal weight in the team discussion. A child’s perspective should be considered to the fullest possible extent as part of that criteria of “what matters”. Determining what matters to that unique child in terms of their access, participation, and progress is critical information to the development of a meaningful IEP. The ABC formula helps us get to the bottom of what may be IEP worthy and ultimately “what matters” by structuring our thoughts and discussion into a framework that is functional and measurable.
Data needs to be ongoing, used to revise instruction, and sufficient to make good decisions. As a resource teacher working with students in 4th – 6th grade on their academic skills, I most frequently measure accuracy, endurance, frequency, and independence. I seldom attempt to measure duration, intensity, or latency. Determining how long it takes a child to initiate a behavior once a cue has occurred is a form of measurement I can’t observe as one teacher with 30 students. Likewise, determining the amount of force and/or effort with which the behavior occurs is too subjective for what I can measure given the restraints of my day.
Accuracy — Bill produced the correct answer 8 out of 10 times. Accuracy is probably one of the easiest behaviors to measure. As long as an operational definition of success has been determined, then accuracy is simple to ascertain.
Duration — Bill had a tantrum for 42 minutes. Duration refers to an amount of time or a particular time interval. It refers to the amount of time that someone engaged in a behavior.
Endurance — Bill read quietly for 20 minutes. Endurance is the measure of a person’s stamina or persistence.
Frequency — Bill hit Susie 5 times. Frequency refers to the number of times that a target behavior was observed and counted.
Independence — Bill put on his snow gear by himself. Independence describes the ability to complete a task without assistance.
Intensity — Bill screamed at a Level 3 intensity. Intensity describes the amount of force and/or effort with which the behavior occurs. For example, to document the intensity of a student’s screaming, the operational definition might be: 1 is loud enough to be heard in the classroom only, 5 is loud enough to be heard in the next hallway.
Latency — It takes Jimmy 2 minutes after the demand to line up before he lines up with the rest of the class. Latency refers to the amount of time after a specific stimulus has been given before the target behavior occurs.
I agree that I also want to be careful about being subjective with qualitative observation. I also work to make sure to create operational definitions of behavior that are measurable. Qualitative collections of data can be problematic for those very reasons. An individual’s expectations can be subjective.
The seven Dimensions of Behavior are as follows:
We can document these behaviors either qualitatively or quantitatively. Quantitative and qualitative data are considered useful in making data-driven instructional decisions. Qualitative observation deals with sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. Qualitative goals are often focused more on soft skills like communicating more effectively, learning to better adapt to change, working collaboratively. A situation in which measuring a behavior qualitatively would seem to be the best approach might be one in which the dimensions of intensity or independence are being measured. These dimensions can be challenging to quantify. A situation in which measuring a behavior quantitatively would seem to be the best approach might be the dimensions of frequency, accuracy, or duration. These are behaviors which lend themselves most easily to quantification. I like the idea of using the phrase performance monitoring instead of progress monitoring.
There are unique challenges to the pre-school setting/process. Data collection (before a child is enrolled in a school program) is one of them! I can see that would be difficult.
The IEP teams in which I am engaged, use the Data Driven Decision Making (DDDM) process primarily for screening and for determining eligibility.
Our team engages in DDDM in a (mostly) continuous manner. We gather, document, summarize, and analyze data, but sometimes fail to vigorously interpret data.
It is the role of the special education teacher to plan and revise instruction. Our school district does not appear to engage in on-going DDDM program evaluations, at least to my knowledge.
The five steps of the DDDM model seem sound and are easily applied to my daily tasks as a special education teacher. I appreciate the distinction between the six different purposes that we use the DDDM model. Indeed, the purposes of determining eligibility are quite distinct from the purposes of planning and revising instruction.
There are five steps in a data driven decision making model:
The data driven decision making model is used for six different purposes
1. Screening before referrals
2. Determining eligibility
3. Planning instruction
4. Revising instruction (on-going performance evaluation)
5. Program evaluation
I like your response. I agree with you that the child’s needs seem to revolve around his need to feel safe and wanted and motivated to go to school. I also wonder if he has strong connections at school. I think your idea is a good one to see if something has changed in the past few months when his grades started to drop. I also feel like the parent may be unintentionally rewarding some of his behavior.