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Tiered System of Support for Students

Tiered System of Support for Students
Tewksbury Township School District

(Updated 11/2022)

Policies and procedures exist in the Tewksbury Township School District  to ensure a coordinated system for planning, delivering, measuring, and modifying interventions to support the needs of students. Referral services are implemented in each school by a multidisciplinary team to address the learning, behavior and health needs of all students. (N.J.A.C. 6A:16‐8)

To support our tiered system of support for students, Tewksbury is committed to:

  1. Effective school and district leadership of programs

  2. Family and community support

  3. Positive school culture and climate

  4. High-quality learning environments, curricula, and instructional strategies

Effective School and District Leadership of Programs

Programs are supported with fidelity.

  • Each school  has an Intervention and Referral Services Team with representation from administration, staff, students, and parents. These teams meet regularly and approach instruction and interventions in an integrated manner.

  • Tewksbury has a district mission statement, developed collaboratively by parents, educators, school leaders, board of education members, and students through the strategic planning process. This mission statement includes a commitment to all our students. 

    •  The mission of the Tewksbury School District is the continual development of each child’s intellectual, artistic, social, and physical abilities in a positive environment, which fosters self-esteem and a love of learning while meeting the district expectation that they will achieve the New Jersey Student Learning Standards at all grade levels. Pupils in the Tewksbury Township Public Schools will be confident, productive members of a changing society.

  • Tewksbury has many opportunities for support through a tiered system. Our plan for support for each student involves coordinating services across the tiers of intervention. This is done through the leadership of the I&RS team, as they work together with others in our district.

  • Tewksbury employs a flexible approach to support resources to ensure student access to small group interventions, in addition to their core instruction. 

  • All educators have access to professional development activities to support best practices in instructional strategies. For example, special educators, along with general education teachers, attend training on Differentiated Instruiton and teaching math through problem solving. Tewksbury is committed to offering professional development opportunities and resources to teachers, school personnel, families, and school leaders through our many professional learning structures. These include professional learning days built into the school calendar for teachers each year and workshops provided out-of-district.

Intervention & Referral Services (I&RS)

The Intervention and Referral Services program is a first tier resource designed to identify and support students experiencing difficulty in school academically, behaviorally or due to health issues.

Teachers or parents may refer students to the I&RS committee, whose members are multi-disciplinary and may consist of the student’s teacher, a school administrator, a guidance counselor, a Child Study Team member, a general and special education teacher, the school nurse, and any other relevant related services personnel. The student (if age-appropriate) needing support and his or parents are also encouraged to attend the meetings.  The I&RS committee meets periodically throughout the year to review the cases of referred students and to collaboratively develop an action plan with interventions to support improved student learning.

504 plans 

Parents and teachers may also refer students to the 504 committee for consideration of eligibility for accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal law that grants rights for students with disabilities. If a referred student is found eligible, areas of concern are addressed with a 504 accommodation plan to provide the necessary assistance to support the student’s success and learning in school.

Special Education

The Tewksbury Township School District recognizes the importance of providing services to children with special needs through its Project Child Find efforts. An evaluation for children and adult students ages 3 to 21 can be provided to those who appear to have delays in communication, motor, social-emotional, and/or learning areas. The evaluation is available to preschoolers; to highly mobile students with disabilities, such as migrant and homeless students; and to students who may be disabled even though they are advancing from grade to grade. Children found to be eligible for special education and related services are entitled to a free and appropriate special education programming and related services in a least restrictive environment.

The Special Education department is contacted if a child appears to have one or more of the following signs:

  • significant delays in acquiring language or significant speech delays

  • significant difficulty walking, running, or manipulating small objects

  • frequent health problems or disabilities present from birth

  • consistent difficulty with seeing or hearing

  • tendency toward temper tantrums or excessive anxiety or shyness

  • significant difficulty playing appropriately with other children; and/or significant difficulties paying attention and listening

More information about Project Child Find can be found at

Referral to the Child Study Team

A referral is the first step in the special education process. It is a formal written request that a student be evaluated by the CST to determine whether a student is eligible for special education and related services or by the speech/language specialist to determine whether a student is eligible for speech services.

Students may be referred to the CST or for a speech evaluation by instructional staff, school administration, parent(s)/guardian(s) and/or community agencies. Parent(s)/guardian(s) should submit their written request to the Supervisor of Special Education.

When Should a Student Be Referred?

Generally, students who present with academic and/or behavioral difficulties are first brought to the attention of the Intervention and Referral Services (I &RS) Committee. This committee will create interventions to address educational difficulties in the general education classroom. Interventions in the general education classroom should be attempted prior to a CST or speech referral.

When interventions in the general education classroom are not appropriate for the student or when interventions are not effective, the student will be referred to the CST or speech/language specialist for an evaluation.

Once a referral is received, the parent(s)/guardian(s) will be invited to a meeting that will be scheduled within twenty (20) days of receipt of the referral (excluding school vacations other than summer vacation).

Based on a review of available information about the student's educational progress, a decision will be made at this meeting whether a CST or speech evaluation is warranted. If an evaluation is warranted, the nature and scope of the CST or speech evaluation will be discussed. If it appears that the challenges can be alleviated with interventions in the general education program and the student has not participated in the I&RS process, there may be a decision not to conduct an evaluation, but to refer the student to the I&RS Committee for development of interventions, suggestions for other interventions for the parent(s)/guardian(s) to pursue, or refer the student to the 504 Committee. If the student is already in the I&RS process and an evaluation is not warranted, the I&RS plan can continue or be adjusted.

Referral Timelines
The classroom teacher and the (I&RS) Committee may recommend other strategies and building level support that can be utilized in the general education setting. If the student's difficulties persist after the strategies and/or services have been implemented, a referral to the CST may be made. A referral is a written document that has been dated by the staff member or administrator who receives the referral. This provides a start date for the first timeline.

The CST will convene a meeting to consider the evaluation within 20 days from the dated receipt of this request. The parent(s)/guardian(s) and referring teacher will meet with the entire CST which includes a Social Worker, Learning Disability Teacher Consultant, and Psychologist. A Speech Therapist may also be present if there are speech or communication concerns.  The team will review the student's needs and jointly determine if an evaluation should occur. Meeting attendees will be asked to sign an attendance sheet.

If there is an agreement to perform an evaluation, a written plan for the evaluation is developed at the meeting, describing the nature and scope of the evaluation. Written consent for an evaluation is required by the parent(s)/guardian(s). This consent for evaluation can be provided at the conclusion of the meeting or the parent(s)/guardian(s) may wish to take additional time before providing written consent. Evaluations can only begin after the parent(s)/guardian(s) has provided written consent. The district has ninety (90) days from the time written consent is provided to complete the entire evaluation, eligibility, and placement process.   Preschool aged students should complete the evaluation and eligibility process in time to receive services upon attaining the age of three.

Parent(s)/guardian(s) will receive written notice of the results of the evaluation planning meeting. A decision may be made that an evaluation may not be warranted. Students may be referred back to the I&RS Committee or for other community or school based services.

Referral to CST Flow Chart

  1. A case manager is assigned and an identification meeting is scheduled within twenty (20) calendar days (excluding holidays). Information is collected regarding the child's educational progress.

  2. Identification Meeting participants include parent(s)/guardian(s), all CST members and at least one of the child's general education teachers. A decision is made as to whether a CST evaluation is warranted.

  3. No evaluation may be needed.

  4. Evaluation Plan- If a CST evaluation is warranted, an evaluation plan is written describing the required evaluations and parental consent is obtained. The process begins. 

  5. Testing and reports will be completed so that parents receive a written copy of all reports 10 days prior to the next meeting which is an eligibility meeting to discuss whether the child is eligible for special education services.  

Basic Skills Program-ASAP

Reading Support

Since early intervention is critical to the development of reading skills and strategies, Tewksbury School District offers both reading support and more specialized reading intervention. Our basic skill support program is called ASAP. All Kindergarten students are given letter identification, letter sound, and high frequency word assessments within the first few weeks of school. Students who do not meet benchmarks on these assessments, will receive skill targeted small group instruction lessons from their general education teachers. As students progress in Kindergarten, other assessments are given. These include assessments to measure students' abilities to access text and to begin to read text. Students who do not meet these kindergarten benchmarks may also be selected for teacher directed small groups or receive instruction from an Intervention teacher.  

Students in first grade who did not meet the end of the year Kindergarten reading benchmarks are screened in September to help determine the best course of 

intervention. Early first grade students are assessed using tests of letter sounds, rhyming skills, reading comprehension, high frequency words, fluency and decoding. Students who are identified as in need of support are provided pull out/push in, small group instruction with an Intervention teacher.

Students in grades K-4 are identified for reading support classes based on their independent reading levels (two grade-levels below benchmark), teacher recommendation, and an individually administered standardized reading assessment. Students in grades K-4 receive reading support in-class and/or in pull-out small group classes. 

The goal of reading support is to provide students the individualized instruction they need to succeed as independent readers in their literacy classes. Students in support classes are regularly assessed by the intervention teacher  to monitor their progress and adjust the support they receive. The results of these assessments are shared with both the students' teachers and parents through progress reports and other informal means, so that students receive as much consistent reading support as possible both at home and in school. 

Reading support is also available to Grade 5-8 students at the Middle School (Old Turnpike School). Students who are reading two or more levels below end of year benchmarks are recommended for reading support the following year. Reading support is provided during the Enrichment and Remediation (E&R) period, one time a week or in a small group setting. The purpose of reading support at the Middle School is to provide students with skill based instruction and the support needed to read on grade level. All support is provided by ELA content grade level teachers who use a variety of assessments, including running records, sight word inventories and fluency assessments to monitor progress and inform instruction. Students who need more than one marking period of support are recommended for a second marking period. Students who do not make progress in reading support are often referred to the l&RS committee for further consideration. 

Math Support
Tewksbury School District offers Mathematics support to all students who meet the criteria. Our basic skills support program is called ASAP. In Grades K-4 several criteria are used for placement in Math support which include: teacher recommendation, at the end of the previous year's course assessment, and beginning of year current grade level assessment.  In grade 4, statewide assessments are also considered for markers of success. Based on the different criteria, students are given a summative score and any students who are in the bottom 10% are considered for math support.  Students who are identified as in need of support are provided pull out and/or in-class support, small group instruction. The goal of mathematics support is to provide students the skill based instruction they need to succeed as independent mathematicians in their mathematics classes. Students in support classes are regularly assessed by the specialists to monitor their progress and adjust the support they receive. 

Mathematics support is also available to Grade 5-8 students at the Middle School (Old Turnpike School). Again a variety of criteria is used to determine the program including: state assessments,  teacher recommendation, average grades from the first three marking periods, end-of-course assessment, and a teacher-created fluency benchmark assessment. Individual cut-off scores are then determined for each grade level to determine who has met the criteria. Mathematics support is provided in either a pull-out or in-class support. The purpose of math support at the Middle School is to provide students with individualized instruction and address their fluency skills in multiplication, number sense, and prior grade level content. The research shows, students who obtain greater fluency skills are able to free up working memory in order to solve more complex problems. All support is provided by mathematics specialists who use a variety of assessments to inform instruction for each individual student. Students who need more than one semester of support are recommended for a second semester. Students who do not progress as expected in their fluency skills are often referred to the I&RS committee for further consideration. 

Dyslexia Screening 
Assessments are also established to screen our students for Dyslexia indicators. Students in grades K-2 are screened two times a year using the AIMSweb Plus program. Older elementary and middle and students may be screened as a recommendation by the teacher, I&RS committee or are new to the district. Two phases of screening exist to ensure that students who would benefit from multisensory instruction are identified. Dyslexia screening assessments may include a phonological profile, a spelling inventory, sight word recognition, and assessments of fluency, accuracy, comprehension, and vocabulary. Students who are identified through this process receive multisensory reading support from an intervention specialist. The frequency, instructor and setting of multisensory reading support are determined by the results of the specialized screening protocols. Students are monitored closely through embedded assessments within the multisensory program and are exited from specialized instruction once they have reached grade level benchmarks. 

Professional Development 
Teachers receive yearly professional development to ensure that they are trained to administer assessments used to identify students who need support. For example, the district received coaching from a certified Wilson professional. During the coaching they attended mini-lesson and then feedback from lesson observations. We have one teacher who is a Wilson certified instructor and maintains that certification by taking classes. Teachers receive training in Dyslexia identification each year. Educators involved in the l&RS team receive training each year.  

Gifted and Talented Intervention

Differentiated Instruction 

Teachers in Tewksbury have attended many workshops to develop pedagogical strategies for Differentiating Instruction. Teachers use these strategies in the classroom to meet students’ learning needs in specific areas or throughout the curriculum.  School leaders continue to work with K-8 teachers to develop skills to differentiate the teaching and learning for all. 

If a parent has a concern about the gifted and talented needs of their child in the classroom, the parent should contact their child’s teacher first. Teachers have important insights into how to adjust the curriculum and teaching in order to better meet the student’s needs within the classroom. 

If a teacher feels that additional resources are needed to help a student, the Instructional Supervisor should be contacted.  The supervisor will begin by examining the learning data with the teacher (Standardized test scores, Characteristics of Accelerated Learner Check-list, Grades, Student work samples, Test Scores).  A learning plan for the child will be constructed, which may include additional resource materials, differentiated homework, and/or different teaching strategies.  This  plan will support the student within the learning environment and will follow the vision of our classrooms as communities.  The plan will be shared with the parent at a meeting with the classroom teacher and supervisor. 

Differentiated Instructional strategies currently used include: clustering students with like needs within a classroom, differentiated homework, differentiated classwork, small group instruction, inquiry based learning, teaching through problem solving, and many other strategies. 

Enrichment Programs

Enrichment programming is designed to motivate, challenge, and educate students to achieve their highest level of performance so they can contribute to the positive development of themselves and society. The Tewksbury Township School District is committed to recognizing the specific needs of students and fostering students’ interests in order to ensure that they become life-long learners. District enrichment programs will provide a challenging environment, in which high-level cognitive and social-emotional processes are further nurtured and developed. Students are identified for enrichment programs based on standardized test scores, Characteristics of Accelerated Learner check-list, and class grades.

The district offers programs starting at Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. Tewksbury Elementary school has a one time a week, pull-out program that involves project based learning activities. Old Turnpike school has an ELA and Math enrichment program that meets one time a week. The middle school also has an enrichment program that supports the arts and meets one-time a week. Other enrichment competition programs include Battle of the Books and Math League. To continue the love of learning the district offers mini Enrichment sessions over the summer.

Students can be identified as 2E, Twice Exceptional. A Twice Exceptional student is defined as "a student who is both gifted and a student with a disability." Students with this identification may have unique needs. These needs will be addressed by different departments within the school that are applicable to the student. This collaborative approach helps the student be actively engaged in the Enrichment program. 

Special requests to take a student out of her/his grade-level, the learning community, are unique. Other intervention strategies are explored thoroughly before this possible accommodation. We care about the needs of the whole child: academic, developmental, and social.  Educators consider how such an intervention may impact the growth of the child in these areas for future years. Requests for grade-level changes are researched thoroughly by the Instructional Supervisor for the above reasons.  All requests are made in writing by the parent to the supervisor in order to document the details of the assessment.  The supervisor will determine if the child can succeed by speaking with other educators working with the student (classroom teachers past and present, principal, special educators, etc.).  Only students with a record of the highest level of achievement will be reviewed.  This includes standardized tests, classroom tests, and end-of-core assessment scores comparably higher than other learners. Even with all these criteria being met, school leaders will discuss with the parents and the student the impact on long-term success of this unique accommodation.