Preventing Early Learning Failure

By Bob Sornson | Go to book overview

6
INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT
TEAMS: IT’S A GROUP THING

James A. Tucker

Awell-worn cliche asserts that all students should be successful in school. But having that statement as part of the school’s mission statement and realizing it as an outcome are quite different things. For every student to be successful, there must be a basic plan that accommodates the specific learning needs of each student, one that doesn’t discount the needs of some to the benefit of others. One of the emerging ideas that holds significant promise to accomplish such an objective is the concept of instructional support.

Instructional support is simply the most recent name of the concept. The initial flurry of reports has resulted from implementation of the concept in Pennsylvania (Kovaleski, Tucker, & Duffy, 1995; Kovaleski, Tucker, & Stevens, 1996; Kovaleski, Gickling, Morrow, & Swank, 1999), but the concept really has its roots in Connecticut, where it has been implemented under the name “Early Intervention Project” (EIP) since 1985 (Connecticut State Department of Education, 1994).

By introducing a simple collection of proven educational practices under the rubric of instructional support, schools in at least four states have systematically and significantly reduced the number of referrals to special education while at the same time seeing an increase in academic achievement and a decrease in grade retention. And according to a comprehensive study by Hartman and Fay (1996), this has been accomplished with no increase in cost to the district over a 5- to 10-year period.

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