How to teach and increase student achievement.

The Story: A Related Problem

Danny is your typical 12-year-old who loves fishing and dreams of owning a fly-tying business. However, Danny is not doing well in school and fights with his mother every morning about going. You see, Danny has a writing disability, and, among other things, he struggles to take notes during class. Poor notes mean he’s not doing well on tests and struggles with his homework.

The Context: Plan To Support “Through” and “Around”

Every day millions of children demonstrate learning or behavioral needs. These children may be formally identified with a disability, be participating in pre-referral interventions, be an unidentified child who has experienced a learning gap from COVID, or be silently struggling to reach their fullest potential due to an unrecognized need. In all cases, this child can benefit from a two-tiered structure designed to support them “through” and “around” their needs. It’s a simple concept that holds tremendous educational power.

So, let’s explore the tiers of this Through-and-Around Mindset™ in more depth.

The goal of the “through” tier is to improve the child’s skills. You’re addressing the child’s needs head-on by working to improve deficits and skills in the area where they struggle. Elements of this tier are strategically designed based on the child’s need(s) and are data-driven and intensive. Legally, and as a best practice, this tier should be built with the general education classroom serving as the foundation. Therefore, a targeted and intensive intervention plan should be designed and implemented to supplement the general education classroom and curriculum. Quality supplementary efforts to improve a child’s needs may include IEP goals, Specially Designed Instruction, participation in intensive acceleration and remediation programs, opportunities for additional practice, etc., all with the goal of rapidly improving a child’s needs. Schools have historically done a fantastic job of implementing “through” strategies in Title I, IST, MTSS, Special Education, and other program-based interventions.

But there’s a problem with the “through” tier: it takes time!

This is where the “around” tier comes into play because it produces rapid results. The goal of the “around” tier is to continue meaningful progress in an age-appropriate general education classroom and curriculum by supporting the child around their need(s). This second tier works to prevent the child from losing ground within the general education curriculum and supports schools in meeting the Least Restrictive Environment portion of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

Similar to the “through” methodology, “around” interventions should be strategically designed based on a child’s need(s) and be data-driven.

In our course, Tools for Effective Inclusion, we discuss in detail how “around” interventions are built using appropriate accommodations and modifications. Accommodations should be selected based on a child’s strengths, needs, and degree of need. The degree of need serves as the data point to select and verify the effectiveness of all “around” interventions.

Action Driven Education’s Accomods is designed to serve as a companion to teachers as they work to develop and implement effective “around” interventions.

The Point: Two Tiers Make Special Education Work

The overarching goal of the two-tiered process is to sustain data-driven, individualized, “through” and “around” interventions with the child until a point is reached where the two elements converge. In other words, their needs have improved to meet their ongoing, meaningful participation in age-appropriate instruction. This convergence point emphasizes the importance of maintaining the child’s meaningful participation in general education while finding creative and intensive ways to improve a child’s skills.

The Story Continues: A Plan Comes Together

Mrs. Haggerty, Danny’s social studies teacher, notices that he isn’t doing well on exams because he struggles to take good notes in her class. So, she arranges a meeting with Danny, his mother, his English teacher, and the school’s principal. During this meeting, the team discusses various ways to support Danny through and around his writing need. “Through” interventions are developed and include providing access to an online remedial writing program that Danny will work on at home and during homeroom. Additionally, as Danny works to improve his writing skills, his teacher supports him “around” his need by providing word-for-word sentence fill-ins in social studies class. Finally, to support Danny both through and around his need, he is provided the opportunity to individually review, edit, and revise all written assignments with his English teacher before submitting them for grades.

Be Action Driven: Things To Do

Learn more about Action Driven Education’s Through-and-Around Mindset™ and discover how to develop effective “around” interventions in our Tools for Effective Inclusion course!