A case study of one urban Mid -Atlantic school district's implementation of student support teams at the elementary school level

Stephanie Elizabeth Wood-Garnett, University of Pennsylvania


This case study examined the first year of grant-funded professional development on intervention-prevention strategies used in the Student Support Team (SST) process in a mid-size urban school district located in the Mid-Atlantic. The purpose of the study was to examine the extent to which professional development on evidence-based intervention-prevention strategies impacted referrals to special education in elementary schools. Research shows that some groups of students experience higher rates of special education referral and placement than others including culturally and linguistically diverse students and students who live in poverty (Harry & Klinger, 2006; Institute of Education Sciences, 2007; National Research Council, 1982; U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 2002). The 2004 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act provided guidance to States regarding the need to provide preventative services to students who are placed at risk for special education referral and/or placement. This study used several data collection methods including surveys and interviews with elementary school principals and surveys of elementary school counselors. The research questions for the study were: (a) In what ways do principals and counselors perceive the SST process is being used to support student achievement and school improvement efforts at the elementary school level? (b) In what ways do schools that participate at high, moderate, and infrequent rates in grant-supported SST training differ in their special education referrals in 2006-2007 as compared to 2005-2006? (c) What type of district-level support is required from the perspective of elementary school principals and elementary school counselors in order to sustain ongoing SST implementation? The study found perceptions of elementary principals and counselors varied regarding the relevance of the SST initiative to school improvement efforts in the areas of academic achievement, student behavior, and special education referrals. The study also revealed a strong relationship between high levels of participation in SST professional development workshops and reductions in the number of students referred to special education. Finally, elementary school principals thought sustainability could be achieved through the continuance of ongoing professional development, but counselors thought additional staff could be essential to sustainability.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education|Special education

Recommended Citation

Wood-Garnett, Stephanie Elizabeth, "A case study of one urban Mid -Atlantic school district's implementation of student support teams at the elementary school level" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310490.