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Getting from Community Of Whiners-town to Collaborative Academic Support Team-opia. COWtown. CASTopia. Neverstreaming. Elk Grove Unified School District. Doing our community’s most important work. We teach . . . . 60,000 students We operate . . . 59 schools We serve 320 sq. miles —

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Getting from












Elk Grove Unified School District

Doing our community’s most important work

  • We teach . . . . 60,000 students

  • We operate . . . 59 schools

  • We serve 320 sq. miles —

    1/3 of Sacramento County

Serving a community proud of its schools

Flowchart For Problem Resolution

Is It Working?



Don’t Mess With It!

Did You Mess

With It?




Anyone Else


Will it Blow Up

In Your Hands?

You’re S*@~#D!



Can You Blame

Someone Else?




Hide It

Look The Other Way



The “Catch 22” of Special Education

  • Students must be 2 years behind “ability” to be eligible

  • No services until criteria are met

  • 2 years behind can beTOO FAR BEHIND!

  • “Catching up” can take a lifetime

IDEA 97 requires that every effort be made to provide for student needs in general education.

Elk Grove Unified School District

Research Regarding Learning Disabilities and Reading Disabled Individuals

  • Reading disabilities affect at least 10 million children in the United States

  • Reading disabilities reflect a persistent deficit rather than a developmental lag

  • 80% of students who fall behind in reading by the end of first grade are still significantly behind in fourth grade, despite conventional intervention practices

  • Longitudinal studies show that of those children who are reading disabled in the third grade, approximately 74% remain disabled in the ninth grade

  • Distinguishing between disabled readers with and without an IQ-achievement discrepancy appears invalid

  • Children with and without discrepancies show similar information processing, genetic, and neurophysiologic profiles.

Elk Grove Unified School District

  • Statistics about students with reading, spelling, and writing delays:

  • In the U.S., 44% of fourth grade students read at “below basic” levels. Only 5-6% of these students should legitimately be classified as having severe, intrinsically-based learning disorders. The others are likely to be suffering from consequences of inappropriate teaching, low standards, and/or disadvantageous environmental consequences.

  • Of the population of identified learning disabled students, 80% have primary weakness in reading, with related deficits in spelling and writing.

  • Based on research published in multiple sources, conducted by the N.I.C.H.D., the U.S. Dept. of Educ., the U.S. Dept. of Spec. Ed.

DATA Points from the REAL World

  • Only 58.5 % of students identified as Learning Disabled in California graduate (a 31% INCREASE since IDEA); LD students drop out at twice the rate of non-disabled.

  • The CA High School Exit Exam failure rate for Special Education students is over 70%

  • Poverty is the single greatest predictor of academic failure in the United States. The average income for an adult identified as Learning Disabled is $12,000/year.

  • The State of California uses 3rd Grade reading scores as part of the formula to predict the number of prison cells needed. The arrest rate for students with disabilities who dropped out of school is 56 percent as compared to 16 percent of those who graduated.)

EGUSD Academic Progress1992 - 2004

92/93 Pre-Neverstreaming

Serving At Risk Students: Striking a Balance

Early success in the classroomInterventionPrevention

Special help based on entry & exit criteria

Providing students instruction that serves them best

Elk Grove Unified School District

A New ERANCLBPresident’s Commission on IDEA

Major Recommendation 1: Focus on Result – not on process.

Major Recommendation 2: Embrace a model of prevention not a model of failure.

Major Recommendation 3: Consider children with disabilities as general education children first.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Eligibility CriteriaResponse To Intervention (RTI)

Eligibility must be interdependent upon instructional supports and other interventions provided through general education. In the primary grades, students who are achieving at a low level and who demonstrate deficits on periodically-administered assessments should be provided with intensive, supportive instruction…there is no reason to differentiate between low achieving students and students with “real” learning disabilities. An instructional support team, or early intervention model, using a systematic individualized data based problem-solving process would be a required component under IDEA.

A New EraIdentification ProcessAYP/RTI

Multidisciplinary teams need to use multiple methods of assessment, selected on an individualized basis, that relate to referral concerns and that are linked to potential intervention strategies, both instructional and non-instructional (behavioral, motivational, social-emotional). Curriculum-based assessment and other functional and authentic assessment methods should be routinely included. There is a growing body of research indicating positive outcomes for such models when they incorporate problem solving or Instructional Support Teams. In its reauthorization, IDEA should encourage states and districts to expand the use of these types of noncategorical models.

What is C.A.S.T.?


CAST is an intervention/prevention service delivery model which incorporates all educational resources available to serve at risk students and their families. It is not a Special Education Program.


  • CAST

    • enhances a student’s school experiences

    • intensifies support services

    • surrounds students with accelerated learning opportunities within the mainstream of general education

Elk Grove Unified School District

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and tells whether you are qualified to be a “professional”...

Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door.

This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

WRONG ANSWER: Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the door.

Open the door, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant, and close the door.

This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference; all the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?

4. There is a river you must cross, but it is inhabited by crocodiles. How do you manage it?

The elephant - the elephant is in the refrigerator.

This tests your memory.

Even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your abilities.

You swim across. All the crocodiles are attending the animal meeting.

This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Andersen Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong. Many preschoolers got several correct answers. Andersen Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four year old…

  • Special education enrollment has dropped from over 16% of enrollment to just under 9% in 7 years

  • Number of new pupils assessed were only 0.6% of total enrollment

  • Plus, we’ve had due process hearingsover this time


Can We Do Something Completely Different?

We called it “Neverstreaming”

Elk Grove Unified School District


An intervention/prevention service delivery model which incorporates all educational resources available to serve at risk students and their families


A special education service delivery model

Elk Grove Unified School District

The Two Components of Special Education

as it relates to CAST...

Provides students at risk of school failure immediate access to intervention and prevention services

Intensive Service

Learning Center

Addresses the needs of at risk families and students through proactive services

Regional Teams

Elk Grove Unified School District

  • Provides a comprehensive, seamless educational model to prevent school failure.

  • Provides supportive and preventative services available to students and families exhibiting academic and/or social-emotional needs

The Goal Of CAST Is Two-Fold

Elk Grove Unified School District







The System

An Intervention/Prevention Model That Maximizes Resources

  • General Education

  • Parents

  • Community Resources

  • Administrators

  • Counselors

  • Psychologists

  • Opportunity

  • GATE

  • Preventative Health Care Services

  • Speech and Language Specialists

  • Title 1

  • Curriculum Coach

  • Regional Teams (RTPTs)*

  • Cooperative Conference Teams

  • Program Specialists

  • Full Inclusion Specialists

  • Special Educators

*RTPT = Regional Team Program Technician

Elk Grove Unified School District

The CAST Conference

Goal: A seamless support process that delivers services to students based on data and a plan for student success.

CAST Conference Team Members

Classroom teacher, Specialists, Administrator, RTPT, Categorical Staff

Teacher reviews progress of individual students on his/her caseload

Team designs immediate interventions for identified students

Elk Grove Unified School District

Response To InterventionThree Tiered Intervention Model

  • Assessment by response to intervention

  • Tier 1

    • Provide classroom support

      • Instructional Coach, Categorical Supports, etc.

  • Tier 2

    • Provide more intensive support

      • Reading Lab, Extended Day, Learning Center, etc.

  • Tier 3

    • Consider special education

  • Progress Monitoring at all levels

CAST Conference Interventions



Tier 1

Students slightly below grade level standards and benchmarks (Basic, Below Basic)

Classroom Collaboration

Tier 2

Students requiring intense academic interventions (Far Below)

Intensive level of service in small group instruction

Students requiring social/emotional and behavioral interventions

Tier 1 & 2

Regional Services

Elk Grove Unified School District

Levels of Intervention

*The reading intervention programs are to sufficiently cover content standards from earlier grade levels to allow students in grades 4-8, whose reading achievement is significantly below grade level (i.e., in excess of two grade levels below), to catch up with their peers within a reasonable amount of time.

*2002 Reading/Language Arts/English Language Development Adoption






Coop Meeting





Evidence collection-

degree of success?


E.L.L., Twilight,

Intersession, L.C.

Extended Day,

Other site support







Request assessment



Response To Intervention

Tier 1

Tier 2



Tier 3



Secondary CAST

  • Houses (Core Teachers & Support Staff)

  • Expanded ELA & Math Departments

    • Reading Specialists, Coaches, Special Education, ELL, and all other categorical supports

  • Grade Level Teams

Diagnostic Plan for Upper Grades

Tier 1, 2 & 3


Assessment of Reading Comprehension

No further assessment indicated

Work on grade-level curriculum


If Low

Oral Reading (Naming Speed) Word Recognition


Work on vocabulary and

Comprehension strategies

If Low


Work on spelling, sight word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies

Phonics Assessment

If Low


Work on phonics, spelling, sight word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies

Phoneme Segmentation

If Low

Phonemic Awareness

Secondary CAST

CST Baseline




Evidence of


Core with



(Progress Monitoring)









2 & 3



Core with Small Group

Instruction in deficit area

(progress monitoring)

Intense Intervention


(minimum 90 minutes)

(intense progress monitoring)

Q. How are interventions determined by the CAST team?

A. The CAST Conference Team identifies appropriate strategies and interventions by using the evidence collected through screening and assessment. The procedures of diagnostic and prescriptive teaching are followed to best meet student needs.

Elk Grove Unified School District

Individual Curriculum Adaptation PlanNine Types of Curriculum Adaptations

Used with permission of Diana Browning Wright

  • Learning Centers/Reading Labs

The Intensive component serves students at risk through a Learning Center or Reading Lab model

The Reading Lab/Learning Center provides prescriptive teaching for the disabled reader

  • The curriculum is designed to meet the individual needs of each student and may include: small group instruction, one-on-one, or direct instruction, based on diagnostic and prescriptive teaching

  • Reading Labs and Learning Centers are staffed by general education, Title 1 and/or special education instructional staff

Elk Grove Unified School District

Service Model for Success

Regional Teams

  • Regional Teams will work together

  • Address early warning signs

  • Serve FAMILIES not just individuals

  • Coordinate NOT ISOLATE - service disciplines

  • Utilize support professionals more effectively

  • Community Agency partnerships

Elk Grove Unified School District

Collaborative Academic Support Teams -Neverstreaming

One Year of Intervention

Over 30,000 Students received Prevention & Intervention Services through C.A.S.T. since ’95

8-12 Weeks of Prevention

Intensive Intervention StudentsStanford 9 *NCE Grades 2-6Total Reading Gain/Loss

Total Reading Average Gain NCE+10.92

*Normal Curve Equivalents

CAST is Improving Student Achievement!

Roll Call for a Group of Superstars!

NameGradeNCE Total Reading


Devin2-3rd +21.5

Juliana5-6th +20.6

Abigail2-3rd +21.2

Sarah4-5th +24.6

Drew2-3rd +21.5

Margarita3-4th +20.4

Aiming toward Academic Excellence

Intensive Intervention StudentsStanford *NCE Grades 2-6Total Math Gain/Loss

Total Math Average Gain NCE+10.80

*Normal Curve Equivalents

Neverstreaming’s Language! Secondary Results

A Student Services and Curriculum and Instruction Partnership

Improving Student Learning

Secondary Language! ResultsStanford 9 NCE Gains by Ethnicity

2-3 years growth in one year

Initial Assessments for Special Education Services have declined over the past 5 years.

Average Daily Attendance is up an average of 3 days per year over the last 5 years.

District-Wide Psychological Assessments and Attendance

Year 96-97


Year 04-05


1996 ADA 37,000

2005 ADA 60,000

EGUSD EnrollmentGenEd & SpEd 2000-2005

Learning Disabled (LD) Trends…


Learning Disabilitiesvs.District ADA ’90-91 thru ’04-’05

Effects of Neverstreaming on Special Education Population and Growth

Special Education Growth & Budget

  • The Special Edge, January reported:

    • “Neverstreaming: Signs That Prevention Can Work”

  • California Department of Education review found Neverstreaming“a fiscal success”.

How To Get a CAST Process Started?

  • Pick the schools that are ready to go! Establish a core-leadership

  • Establish a Multi-Year Phase In - Have a couple of pilot schools to begin, add new schools after first year -

  • Account for Instructional Staff - Older Staff? Young Teachers? Population to change?

  • Establish an agenda for staff development opportunities - provide site tours once a month

  • Be flexible - evolve as you grow

  • Involve the entire multi-disciplinary team

Elk Grove Unified School District

System Approach

Focus on Student Learning


Progress Monitoring


Staff Dissatisfaction with student performance

Selection of a Research-Based & Proven Intervention

District Coordinator & Leadership

Professional Development Linked to Curricular intervention

Development of Staff Curricular Knowledge & Pedagogical Skill

Principal Leadership

School Coordinator

In-Class Coaching

Elements of Success

How do you plan to start?

  • What resources do you haveNOW?

  • Title 1?

  • Reading Specialists?

  • Special Ed staff

  • paraprofessionals, LEP aides, other

  • instructional assistants, parents?

What is “etched in stone”?

  • Schedules; recess, preps, grade

    level commitments, and transportation

  • Road blocks and hurdles - can you go “around”? Is there a “back door”?

  • Who on your staff is willing to try new things?

  • Can YOU think outside the box???

  • What existing programs do you have

  • at your site?

  • Results project?

  • Success for All?

  • Existing programs for at-risk learners?

  • Programs for social/emotional or

  • behavior?

Yes … but will it make the boat go faster?

Contact information

Elk Grove Unified School District

9510 Elk Grove-Florin Rd.

Elk Grove, Ca. 95624


Bill Tollestrup, Director of Special Education and Neverstreaming

Terry deBoer, Program Specialist

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