Reading tutor

Educators find positive change more likely when they intervene with struggling students as early as possible. That’s why Hutchinson Public Schools take a closer look at data collected each year, and fine-tune programs meant to offer a helping hand.

One change coming about as a result of this strategy is the addition of more intervention services at Hutchinson Middle School.

Chad Harlander, the director of the REACH program at Hutchinson High School, will visit the middle school to help students for whom behavioral intervention didn’t work.

“REACH will be a component of that,”Michael Scott, director of teaching and learning, told the School Board Monday evening. “We are incorporating that more into the middle school next year.”

REACH teaches students social and emotional life skills to overcome challenges as well as a chance to look beyond their immediate surroundings to improve their communities. It provides a safe place to receive homework help and guidance with personal issues interfering with their education.

But there are many other factors to consider, and lessons to be taken from information the school collects for its own metrics, and for reporting to state and federal agencies.

“Every piece of data is going to tell a story,” Scott said.

That process is underway this week, including an analysis of data relating to the school’s intervention services such as Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services, otherwise known as ADSIS, and the federal title programs.

ADSIS aims to help educators intervene with students before special education services.

“It is mostly staff working directly with kids,” Scott said.

The program is funded every two years with the expectation that schools submit data on its application. One major point of focus asks schools to keep track of student improvement, namely if they make a full year’s worth of advancement in the areas of reading, math and behavior.

Districtwide, 383 students received ADSIS services this past year. Of those students 320 received assistance with reading or math, 77 with behavior and 14 with both reading and math.

Of those students, 70.5 percent showed a year’s worth of improvement, though the number is a bit soft due to some students leaving the program early or being referred to special education.

“If they weren’t making progress, they would be referred to special education services and getting those services if they qualified,” Scott said.

Scott said further digging reveals the story of students who didn’t show the year’s worth of improvement and didn’t qualify for special education, but improved in other or smaller ways.

On average, the students who didn’t meet the benchmark for improvement received 34 service hours. What remains is determining how that compares to other students, and if the number of hours of service appear to matter more or less than factors that affect all students, such as attendance and focus.

One data point of note reflects specifically on interventions for behavioral issues. Of students with behavioral interventions, 66 percent showed average or above-average growth.

“Of those that didn’t, 70 percent of those ... were in high school,” Scott said. “It’s telling. That’s why we talk so much about catching students when they’re younger.”

Improvement in many intervention programs is slower at higher grade levels, he added.

Data relating to title services told a similar story, with more than 90 percent of students showing reported improvement at the earliest grade levels, while that improvement measure slowly declined to roughly 50 percent among older students.

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