Grouping for Good: Using Student Intervention Groups to Improve Outcomes

A well implemented early warning system can help district and school leaders identify students in need of support and develop and monitor interventions to keep them on track.  Schoolzilla’s Student Intervention Groups help your teams move more quickly from data toward action to meet your strategic goals. Using this feature, teachers and school leaders can quickly find all students meeting certain criteria (e.g. early warning indicators, low performance across different assessments, etc.), share the group with others supporting the students, and see changes in outcomes post-intervention. 

Why Student Intervention Groups?

  • Identify students in need of intervention or who have something else in common
  • Add or remove students when the data doesn’t tell the whole story
  • Compare students to the group
  • Celebrate students who respond to your interventions
  • Pinpoint areas for improvement for those who aren’t yet making the progress you expect
  • Synchronize teams by sharing intervention groups


How to Create Student Intervention Groups

  • Use one or more criteria or metrics (such as student characteristics or achievement levels).
  • Use “ad hoc” criteria, such as a sports team roster or teacher-created group.

Using groups to monitor interventions:

  • Identify students who are below grade level in reading, e.g., create reading intervention groups for students below grade level (approaching and below expectations) based on beginning of year instructional levels and monitor progress throughout the year.
  • Monitor the progress of students in Response to Intervention models, e.g., a group of students in Tier II, who fall below expected benchmarks but are not at high risk of failure, and therefore often receive targeted interventions along with small peer groups of 5-8 students. Track a range of indicators on the students that can be shared easily with students’ assigned classroom teachers throughout the week, month, or semester.
    • Research shows using progress monitoring can inform instruction:RTI Action Network examined linking progress monitoring results to interventions and using data to make meaningful instructional decisions. As an example, they imagined how “Ms. Reeder” a 2nd grade teacher at “Applewood Elementary School” might use intervention group data to address two different struggling readers: English- language learner Miguel and new student George.

Using groups to connect with after-school opportunities:

  • Create ad-hoc groups of students who participate in a particular after-school activity, e.g., sports teams or homework clubs.
    • Example: At Estacada High School in Oregon, 9th grade success coach Charlie Jones creates Student Intervention Groups for all of the school’s sports teams that includes critical information such as student attendance and course grades, and shares weekly reports with coaches. Students receiving failing grades may not be eligible to play in a given week’s game, or coaches might assign players who are struggling academically to attend homework club.

Using groups to keep students “on track”:

  • Use one or more of the “ABC” indicators of on-time high school graduation to create a group of at-risk students for monitoring. Research has found that these “ABC” indicators are linked to a lower chance of graduating on time:
    • Attendance: Missing 20 days or being absent 10 percent of school days
    • Behavior: Two or more mild or more serious behavior infractions
    • Course performance: An inability to read at grade level; failure in English or math in sixth through ninth grade; a GPA of less than 2.0; two or more failures in ninth grade courses; and failure to earn on-time promotion to the tenth grade.
      • Example:At San Jacinto High School in California, administrators piloting a Building Assets, Reducing Risk (BARR) program bring 9th grade teachers together twice a week to review Mosaic data about a mixed cohort of on- track and at-risk students. “Freshman year is the year they start to fall behind and even failing one course is too much,” says Assistant Principal Dr. Rosalind Henderson. “So we look at the grade distribution reports by subject to see how many are failing, and then act, through outreach to the students themselves or their parents.”
  • Flag chronically absent students who require outreach by setting a threshold of 81-90% attendance. Attendance Works suggests that students missing 10-19% of school days might require personalized outreach and an action plan that increases engagement and addresses barriers, such as mentors or help with transportation. When a student dips below or above that threshold, they will be flagged with a “Does not meet criteria” symbol, alerting you to the fact their attendance is improving or sliding down.
  • Review this data on a regular basis and take action to address it. Education Northwest suggests that after- school tutoring may benefit students flagged because of course grades or a peer mediator group may help students with behavioral incidents.
  • Reach out to parents and students to diagnose and address any underlying issues.
    • Example: Estacada High Schools’ 9th grade success coach Charlie Jones brings together a girls’ group and a boys’ group regularly so that students can openly discuss challenges, support one another, and hold one another accountable in attending school more regularly or making different behavioral choices. The school’s on-track percentage is still below the state average of 85% but increased from 50% to 66% of 9th graders last school year.

Schoolzilla partners with districts each day to make data a simple and actionable tool that school and district leaders can use to empower their students to succeed. 

*Note: All images used above contain fake data and real ways you can look at it in Schoolzilla

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Back-to-School Data Wins: Tip #4 Empathy from Day One

Hope you all are having a great week!  We are excited to welcome the month of October and all that comes with it including our next and final Back-to-School Data Win.

Tip #4: Empathy from Day One

Trust is only part of helping your coworkers develop a positive relationship with data. After all, as an assistant principal in Oregon once told us, “data is always emotional and personal because district and school staff’s dedication to students is emotional and personal”. It’s crucial to anticipate when other feelings may arise and how to react supportively. 

  • Don’t lose your “why”. Data can too often be perceived as cold, clinical, or punitive. If you kick off the discussion with a clear connection to your mission— your students—you’ll get both analytical and emotional engagement from your audience.
  • Know what people want to know. Capitalize on the natural appetite for data. The beginning of the school year is an excellent example; so too is the release of benchmark and state testing results. Use interest in those data to reinforce login instructions for data tools, data literacy principles, and other opportunities to use data.
  • Focus on specific data points. When presented with too much data and too little focus, groups tend to either shut down from information overload or scatter into individual rabbit-holes. Keep the group focused on what matters right from the get-go.
  • Model positive data culture. The purpose of data is two-fold: the discovery of new insights and the investigation of new solutions. The second part isn’t always second nature; model what an open-minded, solutions-oriented data attitude looks like to those who might otherwise shut down.
  • Highlight bright spots. Working in education is hard! Keep the team motivated by sharing wins in a way that feels genuine. When presenting data live, don’t race through the positives; that will feel artificial. Instead, slow down and go beyond results by asking how they were accomplished. You’ll have a more productive conversation and folks will truly feel that their good work was appreciated.
  • Define the behavior you want to see. A partner once said, “data presented without an expected action feels punitive.” To minimize this, you can incorporate some practice time during a training. For example, some districts arrange “scavenger hunts” to ensure that all staff know where to find certain data points when they need them.
  • Encourage ownership. Ultimately, the goal is for users to see data as their tool, a valuable one. So encourage them to be proactive in using it for their own work! One school district in South Carolina asked each principal to develop two goals and to measure their progress over the course of the school year. Principals felt committed to their goals and as a result, they used the data to meet them by the end of the year.