High School Level T3 Support System
High School Level T3 Program Philosophy
The T3 program embraces the philosophy of an inclusion-based structure. There are some populations of students who benefit from a substantially separate program design (i.e. students with significant neurodevelopmental challenges); however, students with mental health challenges do not benefit from a base educational model featuring exclusion from the general student population. In particular, mental health symptoms in youth may present as higher valence compared to peers at baseline, with acute symptoms presenting more episodically. As such, in the context of chronic needs, there is variance in how debilitating a student’s challenges may be, and thus variance regarding academic impact. In addition, mental health challenges do not inherently correspond with cognitive dysfunction, though there may be comorbidities. This means that many students struggling with mental health symptoms do not have barriers understanding grade level academic content or generating adequate academic products. Rather, they have difficulties with the academic context, such as academic pressures, social and relational demands at school, emotional regulation around management of responsibilities, etc. In contrast, there are students who struggle both with mental health challenges and other challenges, such as learning needs or executive dysfunction.
The T3 Program design acknowledges the unique needs of this student population by providing a therapeutic wrapping around a student’s inclusive educational experience. Students maintain a regular schedule of courses, just like their peers, and also have designated academic support periods within which they receive therapeutic support, specialized instruction, and support for managing course work. The physical space and T3 staff operate as a ‘home base’ for students, and each student has a customized experience based both on their general, global needs as well as their present needs. As such, the program design accounts for variance in students’ symptom presentations and the corresponding variance in educational impact.
Components of the High School Level T3 Program
As each student enters T3, an assessment and outline of strengths and skills deficits will be done to inform the student’s goals.
T3 students will be supported via several layers of instruction featuring evidence-based interventions.
Base Instruction: This level of instruction is for all T3 students and tied directly to entrance criteria, which all students will have in common. For example, instruction will feature curricula related to social and emotional awareness, regulation, and resiliency.
Specific Modules: This secondary level of instruction relates to students’ specific needs areas and features briefer, targeted therapeutic interventions (i.e. anxiety management, coping with trauma, social skills training, etc.).
Academic coordination includes a customized combination of academic support and communication with a student’s teachers to modify assignments and/or secure direct teacher support as outlined in their IEPs.
T3 staff will work with general staff to best support each student in their classrooms, receiving instruction alongside their peers. During periods in which T3 students require extended time in the T3 space, staff will work with teachers to create an academic plan relevant to the student’s needs.
Tracking student progress will include several methods of direct and indirect behavioral and emotional assessment, and both quantitative and qualitative methods:
Quantitative Methods Examples:
Qualitative Methods Examples:
Goal Setting: As a student enters T3, staff will communicate with the student’s parents to outline goals and describe how the student will be supported.
Communication Planning: When a student enters T3, staff will design a communication plan with the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s):
Care coordination includes the identification of and collaboration with school staff (i.e. teachers, specialists, admin), as well as outside providers and clinical supports:
The care coordination process will include:
o Social/peer relationships
Student Profiles and Entry Criteria
Description of student profiles:
- T3 students have a documented history of chronic, intensive mental health symptoms, such as debilitating mood disorders and severe anxiety. Many T3 students have required crisis or emergency evaluation followed by admittance into a higher level of clinical care, though that is not requisite for program entry. Students’ symptoms are primarily internalizing, contributing to a reduction in functional engagement within relationships and in situations. Students may struggle with sensitivity to emotional activation, poor emotional calibration, escape/avoidant behavior, and/or disinhibited behavior, primarily verbal.
- Students who present with intensive externalizing behavior, conduct issues, socially maladjusted behavior, truancy in the absence of documented chronic mental health issues, and/or substance use/abuse challenges are not a suitable fit for the T3 Program.
Impact on student functioning as entry criteria:
- There should be evidence that students’ symptoms have affected them chronically, over an elongated period of time (i.e. several years of dysfunction), as well as across environments (i.e.
home, school, and in the community).
- T3 students must be receiving Special Education for an Emotional Disability with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) featuring one or more goals related to emotional functioning. While students may have other Special Education needs, their Emotional Disability should be considered their primary disability or equivalent in impact to other disabilities.
T3 Staffing and Responsibilities
The T3 team is comprised of a school psychologist, special education teacher, and social work staff. The team is additionally supported by nursing, guidance, and behavioral analytics staff. T3 support is also provided by building administration (Principal, Assistant Principals), district administration (APS Clinical Director, Social Work Coordinator), and other Student Support staff (i.e. SPED Coordinator and ETFs).