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Montgomery County ( MD) Public School’s (MCPS) Collaborative Action Process (CAP): Multi-tiered prevention, early intervention and identification. Educational Reform… Getting from here to there…. Matthew J. Kamins, Supervisor of Psychological Services

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Montgomery County ( MD) Public School’s (MCPS) Collaborative Action Process (CAP):Multi-tiered prevention, early intervention and identification

Educational Reform…

Getting from here to there…

Matthew J. Kamins, Supervisor of Psychological Services

Brent Myers, School Psychologist & CAP Team Leader

Mcps facts figures

Montgomery CountySize: 497 square milesPopulation: 942,000Approximately one of every seven residents is a public school student. Schools2004-05 total: 192Elementary (preK-5): 125Middle (6-8): 36High (9-12): 24Special or Alternative: 6Career/Technology Center: 1Transportation1,202 buses transported 97,000 studentsEmployeesTotal: 19,951Teachers: 10,63278.5 percent of teachers have a Masters degree or equivalent.

EnrollmentLargest in Maryland17th largest in U.S.Projected, 2004: 140,492Projected, 2008: 145,622

2004-05 total: 139,203PreK: 2,287Kindergarten: 8,889Grades 1-5: 52,861Grades 6-8: 32,314Grades 9-12: 42,834Special Schools: 656Alternative Programs: 236

DemographicsAfrican American: 22.1%American Indian: 0.3%Asian American: 14.3%Hispanic: 18.7%White: 44.6%

Additional Demographics

Students receiving free & reduced meals (FARMS): 22.3%English for speakers of other languages (ESOL): 11,961

International students: from more than 163 countries

Over 120 languages spoken

Students receiving special education services: 17,013

MCPS Facts & Figures

Brief history mcps educational reform
Brief History: MCPS Educational Reform

Critical Events

  • Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Partnership Agreement – Goal: Reduce Disproportional Representation of African-American males in ED/MR categories

    • Action: MCPS Advocacy Review Committee

      • Outcomes:

        • ED/MR procedures

        • Reforming the EMT process

  • Montgomery County’s Children’s Agenda

  • School Psychologists Labor Management Committee

  • Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Initiative

  • MCPS Strategic Plan - Our Call to Action – Goal: Improve student achievement for all students, and close the gap in student performance by race and ethnicity

  • Baldrige Guided School Improvement Process

Problem solving practices and response to intervention models work
Problem solving practices and response to intervention models work:

  • By creating the time, structures, and opportunities for teachers to engage in inquiry, and collegial dialogue, and to learn and practice effective problem solving

  • By passionately focusing on collecting and analyzing evidence of student learning and celebrating student success

  • By creating opportunities for universal prevention and early intervention activities

  • By having high, but achievable, developmentally appropriate expectations for all students

One key question determines when where how to intervene
One key question determines when, where, & how to intervene.

Is it the Fish or the Water?

Adapted from: Beth Doll, University of Colorado

The Prevention/Intervention Triangle



academic &



Intensive Intervention: Evidence-based interventions that are comprehensive, coordinated, interagency supported, culturally competent, family focused, of high quality, and sustain help


Evaluate Effects


Early Intervention: Provide proven structured and targeted remedial academic & mental/emotional support to students placed at-risk

Primary Prevention(School-wide): Promote academic & mental/emotional wellness for all students through: family involvement, positive school climate, social skills, teacher training, individualized instruction, teamconsultation, collaborative problem solving

Adapted from: Dwyer, K. & Osher, D. (2000) Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide. Washington DC: U.S. Departments of Education

and Justice, American Institutes for Research. (page 3)

Cap expectations
CAP Expectations

  • Strategic analyses will help identify the assets and needs specific to each unique learning community

  • Schools will restructure so that teams of teachers can meet regularly to problem solve and share instructional strategies

  • Teachers’ problem solving skills will be enhanced

  • Staff will learn what to “look for” when students are having difficulty and be able to collect authentic information to guide focused interventions

  • Inappropriate special education referrals will occur less frequently, thus limiting the possibility of disproportionality

  • CAP results will support improvements in student achievement and reductions in behavioral transgressions.

Who is involved in the cap
Who is involved in the CAP?

All school staff, parents, and community supports are involved as needed.

At what point in the educational system is cap most commonly used pre k elementary etc
At what point in the educational system is CAP most commonly used (pre-K, elementary, etc.)?

  • CAP is used as soon as a “problem” is suspected.

  • CAP is not an eligibility process so all students can benefit.

  • CAP is effective at all levels, across special education populations and alternative programs.

  • It comes into play when the teacher’s routine interventions and strategies are no longer successful.

How does cap affect general ed and special ed students respectively
How does CAP affect general ed and special ed students respectively?

  • Since it is a strength-based problem solving process, the focus is on problem resolution. Therefore, it can be applied effectively for both special education and general education students.

  • The process looks at all classroom factors (the “classroom ecology”) to link supports with needs.

  • Once a student is identified in need of special education services, CAP is useful in determining effective IEP goals and objectives, related services, assessment of goal attainment, and functional analysis.

How can the cap process improve a student s educational performance
How can the CAP process improve a student's educational performance?

  • The CAP is designed to specifically identify solutions - the instructional, behavioral and social adjustments that lead to student success.

  • CAP relies on evidence to support interventions.

  • Teachers are supported by staff skilled in counting behavior and measuring student achievement (e.g., DIBELS).

  • Benchmarks are established that indicate current performance. These “signposts” monitor our work and demonstrate progress toward skill attainment.

Here s a snapshot of how cap and rti work at one of our elementary schools
Here’s a snapshot of how CAP and RTI work at one of our elementary schools…

Gaithersburg ES Demographics

  • 53.1% Hispanic

  • 29. 6% African American

  • 11.2% Caucasian

  • 5.9 % Asian

  • 0.2 % Am Ind

  • Free & reduced lunch 77.7%

  • Title I school

  • Focused Academic Support

Phase one cap strategic analysis active format kovaleski 2004
Phase One – CAP Strategic Analysis elementary schools…Active Format (Kovaleski, 2004)

  • Students at “risk” were referred for problem solving and progress monitoring at each grade level by the building level Collaborative Action Process (CAP) Team

  • Using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy (DIBELS)

    • All K- 4th grade students were screened

    • (Nonsense word fluency, oral reading fluency) 10/2004

  • Students grouped in three groups

    • LOW RISK


    • AT RISK (10/2004)

  • Students in all groups were given 1 hour of focused reading in combination with their regular reading block.

Phase two problem solving process
Phase Two - Problem Solving Process elementary schools…

  • The “SOME RISK” and “AT RISK” students were assessed every two weeks

  • The DIBELS data along with other relevant information was used for problem analysis (CAP building level problem solving)

  • Instruction was matched to assessment outcomes (AT RISK group)

Phase three multidisciplinary team
Phase Three – Multidisciplinary Team elementary schools…

  • The AT RISK Students were tracked for low academic performance and poor response to appropriate instruction

  • The IEP team is charged with determining whether the student meets the qualifications for special education

Exploratory data
Exploratory data! elementary schools…

  • Hit rate

    • From 50% to 86%

How has this changed my role as the school psychologist
How has this changed my role as the school psychologist elementary schools…

  • Expansion of the “assessment” role for the school psychologist beyond the traditional “norm-referenced” testing model

  • Prevents pressure on the school psychologist to provide “expert” answers; promotes trans-disciplinary teaming and collaboration

  • Increases direct time consulting with and engaging students, parents and teachersin teaching and learning

  • Allows for a thorough analysis of student skills, knowledge, and tasks within the classroom instructional context

Lessons learned
Lessons learned elementary schools…

  • Problem-solving at the local school level begins with analyses of the instructional and behavioral needs and successes at each grade level

  • The Collaborative Action Process provides a unique format for trend analysis

  • Early intervention approaches (aka RTI) that “drill-down” and look for why students are not achieving is an efficient and effective use of staff time

  • For RTI approaches to be successful attention must be focusing on three critical criteria:

    • Was the intervention delivered with fidelity?

    • Did the intervention have sufficient power?

    • Did we give the intervention enough time?

  • Documentation is the road map to success:

    • Who does what for whom, when, where, and for how long.

    • Communicate, document, evaluate and monitor

  • More time (testing the right students) for school psychologists to work with teachers and develop academic strategies for all students.

Lessons learned1
Lessons Learned elementary schools…

  • When students displayed little progress in Phase 2 of the RTI format,

    the CAP team, with the help of the school psychologist, was able to develop promising strategies. These strategies/interventions were utilized to identify accurate goals and objectives for students later identified for special education services.

  • Phase three program options; summer school, after school tutorials, 504 plan, or evaluation for special education.

Lessons learned2
Lessons Learned elementary schools…

  • Complex diagnostic procedures are not always necessary to make relevant instructional change. (Nevertheless, don’t count out norm referenced assessments in stage three to answer or clarify other questions you may have about characteristics of how the student learns relative to special education considerations.) Comprehensive assessments may include, Record review, Interview, Observation, and Test (RIOT).

  • Phase II Intervention - Prevent the development of significant academic deficiencies by intervening in the early grades.

    • 15 Kindergarten students were identified during team problem-solving meeting as needing additional repetitions with letter ID and or letter sounds

    • 12 out of the 15 are English Language Learners

    • 11 third grade students were trained by the school psychology intern to do the drill sandwich technique. The intervention is implemented 3 times per week during recess for 15 minutes each time.

    • Assessments are conducted weekly in order to determine progress of learned letters/letter sounds

    • The intervention has been implemented for 5 weeks

    • Data has indicated gains. Students learned an average of 3 letters/letter sounds per week.

More lessons learned
More lessons learned elementary schools…

  • Grade level problem- collaborative teams were effective when a skilled service provider (e.g., the school psychologist) coached the team

  • RTI and CAP incorporate problem solving, prevention activities and focused early intervention before consideration of special education eligibility. (Therefore the focus of the referral is on problem solving and finding out “why” )

  • Skills in Curriculum-based Measurement and Curriculum-based assessment are essential

  • There is no set of universal interventions that will be universally effective.

  • Observations and data show that interventions must be monitored and much depends on the context and classroom environment

  • Learn as much as possible about your school culture, curriculum and instruction

  • Change is difficult. Develop a good working relationship with your school principal and your director of psychological services. It is all about relationship building

Challenges elementary schools…

  • Progress monitoring

  • Implementation of specific targeted interventions

  • Time and competing responsibilities

  • School-wide implementation

  • Personnel changes

  • A litigious and rule driven environment

  • Systemic issues

  • Political will

Thank you
Thank You … elementary schools…