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Student Study Team (SST)

Student Study Team (SST)

What is the SST?


The Student Study Team (SST) is a team of individuals invested in assisting a student who is experiencing difficulties. The SST meets to develop an understanding of the student’s strengths and problem areas, review resources and strategies available, and formulate a plan of intervention to resolve those problems in the regular classroom. Students may be referred by grade level teams, individual teachers, other school personnel, or by parents. Improving student achievement is the focus of the process.

The purpose of the SST is to identify and intervene early with regular education students who have not already been identified as requiring federally mandated forms of academic support such as Special Education or Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) services. Through the SST process, teachers, parents, and support staff work with students who are at high-risk for academic failure due to any number of reasons including poor attendance, truancy, discipline issues, behavior problems, or other unidentified factors.

Who is eligible to be seen by the SST?

Any student who is having difficulty in school or not reaching his or her potential and is not already requiring federally mandated forms of academic support can be referred to the SST. If you have concerns about a student already receiving additional forms of support, please contact the appropriate case manager to schedule staffing (Resource Teacher for Special Education students, School Counselor for 504 Plan students).


Who Makes up the Team?

The SST is comprised of school staff, parents, and sometimes the referred student. Depending on issues and concerns initially presented, school staff participants may include the Teacher(s), School Psychologist, Resource Specialist, Speech and Language Therapist, Counselor, Nurse, Associate Principal, Principal, and/or others. The person making the referral and the SST coordinator will determine who should serve on the SST for each particular student. Thus, the team may not be comprised of the same individuals for every student.


How does the Team work?

If a student is still experiencing difficulties after less formal methods of intervention have been attempted (i.e., team discussion, teacher-parent conferencing, etc), s/he should be referred for a formal SST meeting. The SST Coordinator will schedule an SST meeting date, in conjunction with identified SST members (teacher(s), support staff, parents, and possibly the student). Before the meeting, it may be necessary for participants to gather relevant information, such as educational history information, work samples, and/or other desired information.


What happens at the meeting?

Team members discuss concerns about the student in positive terms. Participants share information and observations about the student, focusing on areas of strength, as well as concerns. After the team identifies the student’s specific needs, possible solutions are developed, and an action plan is put into writing. This plan includes detailed goals and objectives, a time frame for completion of the interventions, modifications, or program changes, the criteria for measuring the effectiveness of the changes, and identifies those responsible for specified follow-up tasks.


What happens after the meeting?

Confidential written minutes of the meeting are placed into the student’s SST folder (as an extension of the cumulative file) to provide documentation and to ensure consistency throughout change of grade level, teacher, or school. Periodic SST reviews may take place, as agreed at the team meeting.



Acknowledging that there are many expectations for students, it becomes a challenge to determine whether the problem is associated with an academic, social, emotional, or behavioral demand. Often a collaborative team approach can help identify appropriate interventions to assist the student in overcoming barriers to school success.

SST Process 1: Pre-Referral Steps

In questioning whether the student is having academic or behavioral difficulty, the teacher analyzes the academic and social characteristics of the student and compares them to the demands and expectations of the classroom and curriculum. To validate whether there is a mismatch between the demands in the classroom and the student’s abilities, the teacher considers the student’s level/rate of development and the student’s past experiences with learning.

Several sources of data may be gathered, reviewed, and considered prior to and in preparation for an SST meeting, including:

  • informal assessment of student’s work samples
  • conference with parent, by phone or in person
  • talking to counselor, other teachers, previous teachers
  • review of educational history

The teacher makes the initial parent contact. It is very important that the parents be involved as problem-solvers from the beginning of the process. The purpose of contacting the parent is to express the teacher’s concern about presenting problems, learn the parents’ views, and gather pertinent information about student/family relationships through the course of conversation.

The permanent record file is reviewed by the counselor with a critical eye on previous test results, school attendance, mobility factors, retention, vision/hearing screening results, etc. This information provides a good profile of the student’s past experiences.

After reviewing information gathered, the teacher develops classroom interventions to address the identified issues. The teacher documents these strategies and results. If insufficient progress is seen after a period of time, the teacher refers the student to the SST.

SST Process 2: Student Referral

The person making the referral completes the SST referral form, and submits it to the SST Coordinator’s mailbox. The SST Coordinator contacts the referring party to discuss appropriate potential team members, then schedules the meeting and invites all participants.

SST Process 3: SST Meeting

This is really the first SST meeting. It is an interdisciplinary team model that uses campus resources, parents, and support specialists to collaboratively review the information gathered by the teacher and counselor in Processes 1 and 2. Membership on the SST is determined on an individual basis and reflects resources the student might need.

The purpose of the meeting is to review information the teacher and counselor has already gathered and discuss interventions and strategies tried at school and at home. If a disability is suspected, the student is referred to the appropriate case manager for follow-up and assessment.

With the combined knowledge of the SST members, the SST develops goals and recommendations based on the team’s understanding of the presenting problem, teacher assessment(s), student’s needs, and parent feedback. Interventions may include academic or behavioral strategies, as well as referrals to other resources such as academic support, tutorials, counseling groups, community agencies, etc.

The teacher continues to document results of recommended strategies. If insufficient progress is seen after an agreed-upon period of time, the teacher requests a follow-up SST meeting.

SST Process 4: SST Follow-Up Meeting

At the follow-up meeting, the team meets to review student progress on the recommendations previously implemented. The SST considers all interventions attempted and reviews student successes and setbacks. Several things may occur:

  • Significant progress is made and presenting problems are or can be resolved.
  • Progress is being made and the SST may choose to continue with the interventions that are working and/or recruit other resource persons for additional input.
  • Progress is slow or non-existent; the SST attempts to create new interventions and continues to review student progress on a regular basis.

Examples of Students Who Might Benefit from the SST Process

SST assistance may benefit students who:

  • Are new to the school and may be having difficulty adjusting
  • Have frequent absences and/or tardies
  • Have failing grades in one or more domains, particularly if reclassification is being considered
  • Are experiencing social or emotional difficulties
  • Are managing feelings related to divorce, or grief, or other issues
  • Seem to have significant health issues or illnesses
  • Appear to have an uncertain home life (hunger, neglect, etc.)
  • Are suspected of having learning disabilities or other learning impairments
  • Seem to have a high incidence of disciplinary referrals

This list gives examples of possible SST candidates, but it is not all-inclusive. If you suspect that a student is struggling for some other reason and you believe that a collaborative, team approach will provide guidance in helping to alleviate the student’s difficulties, please confer with the SST Coordinator who will help determine whether a formal referral is necessary.