Student Support Team (SST)

About the SST

The Student Support Team (SST) is a group of individuals whose purpose is to use a collaborative problem-solving process to find ways around roadblocks to academic, behavioral, and social-emotional success for any student referred to it. At part of a multi-tiered system of support, the SST considers the individual needs of students in order to develop and refine plans that include supports and evidence-based intensive intervention strategies designed to close skill gaps and increase success in school.

Per Georgia Board of Education Rule 160-4-2-.32, every Georgia school must have a Student Support Team.

Michelle Horton-Long

District-Level Chairperson

SST Program

Response to Intervention and the Student Support Team

Response to Intervention, in Georgia, is a three-tiered instructional process, or framework, which guides teachers in matching instruction and intervention to each student's learning needs. This may include intervention for skill weaknesses, or strength-based instruction through enrichment and acceleration.

The Student Support Team (SST) is in Tier 3 of a Response to Intervention instructional framework. Each school's designated SST participates in problem-solving and monitoring of students who are identified as having significant skill weakness and/or who do not respond to Tier 2 instruction and intervention.

What are the key components of Response to Intervention?

  • High quality, research-based instruction and behavioral support for all students in general education.

  • Universal (district-wide) screening of academics and behavior to determine which students need intervention and/or enrichment and acceleration.

  • Multiple tiers, or layers, of increasingly intense scientific, research-based interventions and/or enrichment that are matched to student need.

  • School staff works together to develop, implement, and monitor the intervention and enrichment process.

  • Continuous monitoring, with objective data, of student progress during intervention in order to determine if students are meeting their achievement goals.

  • Systems in place to ensure fidelity of instruction and intervention.

What are the three tiers of instruction in a Response to Intervention framework?

Tier 1

All students receive standards-based instruction matched to their readiness level in the general education classroom. Behavioral expectations are also specifically taught and reinforced in this tier. Schools will assess all students to determine what students are at-risk for not meeting grade level standards, as well as which students will likely benefit from enrichment and/or acceleration.

Tier 2

Some students will be identified with skill gaps in reading, math, or behavior. In Tier 2, identified students will receive targeted intervention in their specific area of weakness. Students who are above grade level receive strength-based instruction in Tier 2. This could be through an advanced or Honors class.

Tier 3

Students who are identified as having significant skill weaknesses and students who do not respond to targeted intervention in Tier 2, will participate in intensive intervention in Tier 3. Students who are well above grade level receive strength-based instruction in Tier 3. This could be through accelerated or Advanced Placement classes.

Student Support Team Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who makes up the Student Support Team?

Membership varies from school to school. Typically there are three to five members. They may be an administrator, a counselor, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, a school social worker, a parent, a media specialist, a school psychologist or other central office persons, as appropriate.

What happens when SST addresses a problem?

A systemic, collaborative problem solving process is used to generate recommendations that are targeted to the student’s learning or behavior problem. These recommendations, which include a specific academic and/or behavior plan, are documented in SST records and provided to the student’s teacher(s) and/or others to implement with the student. The team then meets periodically to review the student’s progress monitoring data and determine the need for continuing, modifying, or concluding the intervention (e.g., increase time, additional supports).

How long is the research based intervention implemented?

Interventions used should be those that have a proven record of success, supported by rigorous, objective research methods. The length of time an intervention is implemented is typically indicated in the intervention, which specifies the length of time needed for the process to attain reasonable success (e.g., how many weeks, days and minutes are indicated for each intervention based on how it was researched and designed). Interventions must be implemented with fidelity in the way they were designed and researched, following the specific steps of the intervention and reviewing progress monitoring/student response to the intervention. It is vital that progress monitoring is analyzed on a consistent/frequent basis so that the SST problem-solves next steps based on reliable, current data.

Can the SST refer students for evaluation for special education consideration?

Yes, but only after several important decision criteria are met: 1) that reasonable SST interventions of sufficient duration have been carefully attempted, without success; and 2) that the cause of the problem is suspected to be a disability that cannot be resolved without special education services. Interventions to support the student must be continued during the special education evaluation period.

Do all referrals for special education need to go through the SST?

The state’s court commitment (unique to Georgia) was that virtually all referrals should go through the SST referral process. The exception-- or “Bypassing SST”--was outlined in the directives from the Marshall Court Case: “These cases are those in which the necessity for special education is so clear that use of non- special education options would be nonproductive or harmful to the child. In those cases where initial referral is not to the Student Support Team, the reasons therefor will be documented. (Marshall v. GA, 1984 )”

Must parents give consent for a SST meeting?

Parents must be invited to all SST meetings; however they do not have to give consent for the SST meeting to take place or to give consent for the SST plan to be implemented.

How can schools determine the effectiveness of the SST process?

Many indicators can show success of the SST process, from parent/faculty satisfaction; to pre/post student performance; to placement rate for initial referrals to special education, i.e., that a high percentage of referrals to special education indeed were found eligible.