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Getting Kids on Track
Through Early Intervention

Many of the students at Parkville Community School have challenges in their lives that affect their schoolwork. Staff members try to resolve problems as soon as possible through a multiple-layer intervention program. Included: An example of an early intervention process.

About This Series

Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio is spending time this school year at Parkville Community School in Hartford, Connecticut, to report on the challenges an urban school faces and the strategies it employs in its quest to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Part of Parkville Community Schools mission to achieve adequate yearly progress (AYP) as a school includes not leaving any of its own students behind.

Early in November, members of the schools Student Assistance Team (SAT) met with the mother of a first-grade boy with behavior problems his classroom teacher had not been able to resolve.

The SAT meeting is the third step in Parkvilles early intervention process; in the first, the classroom teacher meets with other teachers from that grade level and some of the support staff to see if they can develop a solution. After that, a meeting can be called with the Child Study Team, which includes school specialists, who can recommend evaluations and testing.

Since the earlier interventions didnt work in this students case, Jasons mother was asked to come to school to help determine the next steps.

Were meeting with the parent because the student may need additional help, and were trying to find new ways to help, principal Elizabeth Michaelis said in explaining the process.


While Jason is performing on grade level, he has a lot of trouble managing his anger, according to his teacher and other staff members. Jason was hitting classmates, his teacher, yelling in class, and had run away during recess several times.

A look at his medical history showed that hed been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and takes medication daily.

We will not give up on your child.

He is in control when he wants to be, school nurse Cheryl Desmond reported. Medication does not fix everything. Medication is a tool.

Jasons teacher also noted that she had seen some improvement in his behavior. You have to watch his moods, she said. His outbursts also were isolating him socially. He wants the other kids to be his friends, but they are afraid of him, she said.

His teacher also noted that it was Thursday and Jason had not been in school all week. Jasons mother responded that none of her boys -- Jason and his two brothers -- had been in school because they had gone to New York State to visit their fathers the preceding weekend. (Jason has a different father than his two brothers.) The boys had been due back Sunday, but they had not come home. Jasons mother said she could not contact the father, nor was she able to pick up the boys because she was starting a new job.

Are you worried? someone asked.

No, Jasons mother replied, but he should be, referring to the father who picked up the boys.


She finally was able to learn that Jason was staying with her mother and sister.

As for his behavior, Jason has mood swings at home, but they are not as severe as when he is at school, according to his mother. I try to give him medication before he leaves for school, she said. If he is having a bad morning, like if his brothers give him a hard time, if they antagonize him, the mood stays with him all day.

Click here to read about literacy activities in second and fifth grade classes.

Jason had started school in New York, but he was not enrolled long before he was referred to a school for children with behavioral problems. Parkville staff members have had difficulty getting records from his previous school.

At the same time, he enjoys school and learning, his mother said. He tells me we have to read when he comes home, she said.

Jasons mother noted that her life is not steady. She has moved every two years or so, usually not a great distance from her last residence. The relocation from New York to Connecticut was her first big move.

Someone suggested Jason might benefit from more counseling. Michaelis offered to help the mother get a referral to a psychiatrist, which had been recommended by a doctor in New York. Jasons mother said she had tried to get an appointment with a doctor, but the waiting time was several months. We should try to get an evaluation; if not, we can do our own assessment, Michaelis added.

We will continue to do what works for him, and try to find out what else is going on, Michaelis said. We will not give up on your child.

Its part of a natural process to involve more people who know what to do with kids, and provide support for the child, teacher, and home.

Staff members will keep Jasons mother in the loop, Michaelis added, and call her at home after 7 p.m., if necessary, to avoid disturbing her at her new job.

After the meeting, Michaelis said that she has found the multi-stage process to be effective. Were not losing kids, she noted. Its part of a natural process to involve more people who know what to do with kids, and provide support for the child, teacher, and home. This is how I find it to work.


In the afternoon, Michaelis met with the special education and literacy teachers to identify children who might benefit from an additional 45 minutes of language arts instruction -- a third literacy block, as they called it.

Students in grades 1-6 are grouped based on their reading ability, and go to different teachers classes for reading instruction.

The staff members at the meeting made a list of students who might need additional reading help, and discussed each student in detail -- reviewing skills such as reading speed, oral fluency, comprehension, phonics, vocabulary, and sound blending.

At the end of the meeting, 33 children were identified as needing additional literacy instruction. Now they would spend a total of three hours a day on reading.

Scheduling was going to be a challenge -- Michaelis reminded the staff that the students could not be pulled from either of the two other literacy blocks or their math instruction period.