At a Glance
Instructors at Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center (SCCTC) use alert forms to notify the student, the parents, the counselor, and the executive director if a student’s grade dips below 75% in a class. This early-intervention approach addresses the needs of all students facing barriers to learning, including those from across the spectrum of special populations.
SCCTC instructors distribute alert forms to students if their grade dips below 75% (C) so that they have time to address the issue before they are in danger of failing. SCCTC uses this early intervention approach to make the student, parents, and school counselor aware of the student’s grade and to encourage students to assume ownership for their learning success. Instructors send out alert forms every week, as needed.
The SCCTC faculty follow specific procedures for issuing and following up on alert forms.
- The instructor fills out the alert form with student information including current grade and a brief description of why the student has that grade.
- The instructor discusses a Plan of Action for supporting the student with the paraprofessional(s) and includes this information on the form. Both the instructor and the paraprofessional(s) sign the form. (See below for a description of a Plan of Action.)
- With the paraprofessional present, the instructor discusses the alert form with the student. The student then signs the form.
- The SCCTC executive director signs the form, and the original is kept in the counselor’s office with a copy given to the paraprofessional to document the student’s progress.
The Plan of Action is geared towards the specific needs of the student and includes interventions and support strategies to help the student address barriers to learning. For example, these plans may document the need for:
- The use of a rubric to complete a task.
- A paraprofessional to review a task step-by-step and break it down into smaller chunks.
- Daily checks on assignment completion, accuracy, and comprehension.
- Other accommodations to help the student.
For students with IEPS, the special education coordinator may contribute to the action plan and sit in on meetings as needed. The paraprofessional works one-on-one with these students so that they receive their IEP accommodations.
After students receive an alert form, faculty members check in on them to make sure they are taking steps to bring up their grade. The counselor may meet individually with students if their grade is not improving and/or if there are behavioral concerns. The paraprofessional who signed off on the form will, on a daily basis, document the student’s progress towards completing the Plan of Action.
Students will continue to receive weekly alert forms if their grades remain below 75 percent. If a student’s grade does not improve, then the student, instructor, school counselor, and executive director meet. Together they discuss their concerns and try to identify the barriers impeding the student’s progress. The student is placed on probation for two weeks. If the student still has not made progress after the probation period, then the staff sets up a meeting with the student’s parents to determine the next steps. (The staff will meet with parents earlier in the process if necessary, such as if there are severe behavioral concerns.) Staff members continue to support the student during this time.
In addition to the instructors monitoring weekly grades, the school counselor reviews every student’s progress report at the halfway point of the marking period to catch any grades that may have been missed by the instructor. Dr. Alice Davis, Executive Director and School Counselor Director, emphasizes the importance of this “checks and balance-type” approach to ensure students are not overlooked and accidentally falling through the cracks.
SCCTC first implemented the alert form procedure for the 2006-2007 school year. Instructors helped design the form by listing out specific criteria of their program area that should be included in it. Dr. Davis and a counselor then used this input to create a final document to be used across all programs. Staff members attended a professional development session on when and how to use the alert form. According to Dr. Davis, the cooperation of instructors was critical to the successful implementation of the alert form system.
For other CTCs that want to replicate this practice, Dr. Davis emphasizes the importance of following up with students after the alert form is issued. She also cites the importance of having the counselor review the grades of every student to prevent some students from being overlooked.
At this time, Dr. Davis expects SCCTC to continue using the alert form to monitor student progress and intervene early and does not anticipate any major changes to the form or system.
Since SCCTC instructors began using the alert form, the percentage of students failing a course decreased substantially from 30% to 8% of students.