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Please! Do not make a lack of documentation prevent a student from receiving Tier 3 supports. We get it – we need documentation to justify a referral for a formal evaluation to determine special education eligibility. But, that’s not what we’re talking about. We hope and expect that the student will not need a referral. We’re going to intensively intervene now, immediately upon the identification of a serious need. And because we specially target the students’ most immediate need, and because we relentlessly adjust until the student adequately responds, the majority of students will response to intervention and not require that referral.

So, we’ll document a lot…after the students is screened, diagnosed, and receiving the Tier 3 reading support. Documenting and communicating data and documentation is important. Try this: Create a Google Doc for each student and share the document with only those staff members who will benefit from and contribute to the document. Yes, there must be a expectation that the Google doc is consistently used, but documentation need not be complicated or burdensome and we may not need another meeting. Asynchronous collaboration works. We have the technology.

So there you have it: A plan for a leaner, meaner Tier 3. You can hack the Screening-Diagnosing-Prescribing-Monitoring process with little or now cost and with a sense of urgency. Students with a significant need in any foundational skill area (literacy, numeracy, behavior), but most immediately in the area of reading, can and must receive targeted and intensive supports without delay. Screening can be done using existing resources and data and is, after all, not dependent upon a test, but is instead a process for determining students most in-need. Diagnosing reading needs only requires a short passage of text, a few comprehension-based questions, and 10 minutes of time. Free or low-cost resources exist to meet all students’ reading needs in PreK-12; current schedule and staff can be creatively repurposed so that time and personnel can begin to be dedicated to the needs of students who will simply not be successful in school, college, career, and life unless we address reading needs. Valid and reliable progress monitoring tools and assessments are available, most (again) at no cost or low cost so that we can frequently check on student growth and make adjustments if necessary.

All students scan learn at all levels. All students can be supported to catch them up in the area of reading. It simply takes a belief that it can occur and a commitment to providing Tier 3 intervention in ways that we may not have previously done. It requires that we hack a better solution.

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