Pass or Fail: Intervention, Early and Often
In this multi-part series, I provide a dissection of the phenomenon of retention and social promotion. Also, I describe the many different methods that would improve student instruction in classrooms and eliminate the need for retention and social promotion if combined effectively.
While reading this series, periodically ask yourself this question: Why are educators, parents and the American public complicit in a practice that does demonstrable harm to children and the competitive future of the country?
When it comes to getting rid of our current pass-fail system, I have developed six strategies (click to see them all). The last strategy is the provision of intervention opportunities.
Under this program, assessments, as well as many other indicators, would trigger one or more remedial interventions. To implement this strategy teachers need clear-cut ways to identify a child who needs extra help, as well as the knowledge and training to be able to make use of the extra resources required. There is strong evidence that such intervention programs can prevent more serious academic problems from occurring in later grades.
A system for intervening early and often has already established to some extent. Across the country, there are already many school districts that make employ early-intervention services, including intermediate unit support systems, early childhood support systems and, of course, school-aged support systems that help children in school as early as the first time a child walks through the school door.
The changes needed to promote intervention are like those we have already suggested for improving teacher quality: measures that intensify policies and procedures that have worked well in the past, perhaps modifying them somewhat to meet specific, contextual requirements.
Research has overwhelmingly supported the notion that early intervention – and the earlier, the better – is truly the key to helping students achieve school-readiness and to developing strategies for success. The early-intervention model proposed in this book not only embraces that principle but seeks to celebrate it as a focus of collaboration between those responsible for the early interventions (preschool-age interventions) and the schools, which take charge as a child transitions to school-age programming.
Promoting collaboration as well as early and frequent interventions is a strategy that seeks to build community support for education, and for public education specifically. It seeks to emphasize the need for support across all settings and the benefits of a comprehensive support model. The strategy seeks to eliminate the need for children to be segregated based on special needs. Rather, the only segregation or streaming allowed in education should be based on academic abilities and learning preferences. Schools can easily support the streaming of groups with certain abilities without having to target students with special needs.
The proposed model of frequent and intensive interventions, especially in the early years, allows for a broad, quality education that addresses far more than performance on tests. If the goal is truly to prepare students for a lifetime of learning, the emphasis on early education, in particular, should be more on the acquisition of learning skills than on the on the accumulation of knowledge. The primary goal of K-12 education really ought to be the development of the ability to think critically and to learn how to function effectively within a school environment.