Supporting Student Effort and Learning: My Progression of Interventions

This series of interventions and consequences is a progression. It’s an escalation of actions put in place as a consequence of students not doing what they are expected to do effortwise, or for students who are doing what is asked yet they are still having difficulties (i.e. they do all the HW but still aren’t showing their knowledge on assessments).

In this framework the term “intervention” is seen as any action that is used to intervene to help support an academic or behavioral concern. Whereas often in education these days the term intervention is used to signify an evidence-based timebound action used to help support an area of need.

This process is more low key.

However I have had a lot of success with these steps over the years, and often parents or students ask to return to these interventions after the student was transitioned off due to success, but then takes a slide without them. But in terms of an “intervention”, I did not get these ideas from a program nor have done my own action research or anything. It’s anecdotal, but positive!

Progression of Interventions for Effort

The following steps are what I take as a learning support teacher/case manager/resource teacher.  It leads to more intensive accommodations, push-in class support, and can end with a modified program if needed.  

I should mention that there is no discussion of RTI type interventions here because of so much variability in RTI approaches.  The things listed below are what a case manager can do in any program.

The following steps are for either:

a) students with difficulty expending effort, thus this progression is used to help make sure that students are giving 100% effort, or

b) to ensure that students give 100% effort so that we can then have a better baseline with which to work with more directly on academic interventions and supports (i.e. more accommodations, differentiated approaches, etc.)


1) To-Do Sheets

This is the first thing I do when working with students whose grades are below proficient.  These are daily study sheets that scaffold the whole process of chunking tasks, preparing for assessments and more.  I wrote more about it HERE and linked to examples.  If a student earns a lower than proficient grade for a grading period we will do this for the next grading period and if they are above proficient (i.e. 75 or a 4 in the IB) then we will stop.

2) Mandatory Study Time

If the to-do sheets aren’t helping achieve the desired results or the student is regularly not doing them we will move to one hour of mandatory study time each week. 

The students can do this in the 30 minute chunks and can do it either with the classroom teacher where they have the low grade, or with me.  It must be signed off on this card and if they don’t do it one week they will have to make up the time the next week.

I begin this process with an email home explaining the change in plan and I note it in their Student Information Excel File.

If this one hour a week is not leading to the growth we would like to see then this is where I talk to the teacher(s) and the parents and say that we will likely go to two hours a week soon, but we should also consider if a tutor is needed.

I should note that during this whole time I am giving push-in support (in the gen ed) or I am collaborating with teachers to build in scaffolds and other differentiated approaches, focusing on CONTENT, PROCESS, and PRODUCT.


3) Tutor

After we have the to-do sheets locked in consistently, and the student is coming to me (or their teacher) one to two hours a week, and they are still struggling in the class(es) we will consider a tutor.  This can be to help a student with gaps (i.e. in math) that we just don’t have the time to fill at school, or it can sometimes be as simple as keeping a student focused for that study time outside of school, and everything in between.


In sum, this process takes months to go through.  And during this time I am also working with teachers to help with accommodations and differentiation strategies, and may be seeing the student in a resource type class or in a pull out Tier 2 intervention.  This is to say that what I wrote is not a complete picture, but this process is key in order to see where students are at.

If the student just isn’t putting in the effort, then this process, especially the first two steps will help get them on track.

If students have motivation to do well but just don’t know how to work outside of school, then the to-do sheets and the mandatory study time will build in the things that they need like chunking assignments, using graphic organizers to study, and more.

And if the student truly needs much more intensive interventions and supports to be successful, then having gone through these steps will give us a more accurate picture of what they are truly capable of doing, and we can move forward accordingly (i.e. more intensive supports, discussions of modifying the expectations, etc.).


A list of consequences and the order they come in:

Through the process described above, and through just being a case manager you will find times where you need to hold students accountable.  It’s a balancing act of being tough, but also building that relationship so the students feel comfortable reaching out for support.

Here’s my approach:

1) 20 minutes detention or make-up work time

This can happen when they get more than two warnings in a class period, when a teacher lets me know something happened, or if they don’t turn in their to-do sheet

If they don’t show up the time is doubled. But if they owe a lot of time I tend to not double it so things don’t get compounded.

If they are continually having detentions/make up work time for the To-do sheet  it will eventually become 60 minutes of make up work each time after weeks of not turning in the to-do sheet 4 out of 5 times a week.  This is because if they aren’t doing the work at home then they have to do it somewhere and I will help facilitate that with the make up work time.


If they get up to 150 minutes of make up time they then have to do every lunch and an hour after school until there time is gone.  This is to get rid of it as quickly as possible so we can get back on track.

There are times when this can be negotiated, but I have found that this is the best approach.  It serves both as a deterrent and also to help them get back to zero as quick as possible.


2) Parent contact

If students are having trouble with the to-do sheets, not showing up to their mandatory study time and are then having trouble coming to the make up time (i.e. at lunch, after school, etc.) the parents will be contacted about the concern after I warn the student that I am soon to contact the parent.

Sometimes this parent contact is enough and the student will turn it around.  Other times we will have to have a formal meeting.


3) Parent meeting

If the parent contact a few weeks ago didn’t help improve the situation, then I ask the parent to come in so we can have a short meeting to discuss the concerns.

At that time I let them know of my school to home connection where the child has to earn privelages at home by doing certain things at school.  I just plant the seed so they can ruminate upon it for a bit and start to think of things their child should earn by doing what they need to at school (i.e. guitar lessons, dance classes, cell phone, partying with friends, etc.).

I also tell them that we may have to do a Saturday school soon if we continue to have problems with the make up time piling up.

The hope is that the parent will push the student at home to do what they need to do (i.e. the to-do sheet), and will set up systems with the student to encourage them to do their thing in school.


4)  Saturday school        

If students are still having trouble doing the to-do sheets, make-up time, etc. and the parent contact did not work, then they may be asked to come to Saturday school so that their make-up time can be taken away.


5) Parent Meeting

After this point if the student is still having difficulty consistently doing what they need to do we will have another parent meeting to address the concern and plan the school to home connection.

This is a plan for what we will expect the student to do at school each week, and what will they earn at home and school when they do it (i.e. trips to restaurants, cell phone usage, ability to go to sports or clubs, etc.).


6) School to Home Connection

A graphic organizer to assess how well  a student has done what they need to do that week
Expectations for the week


Here is an example of what I call the “Ticket to the Week”.  We have a list of things the student will earn by hitting a specified goal each week.


Ticiket Image bottom half
List of privelages they can earn


In my experience this can take a lot of hard work on the case manager’s part to ensure that it’s actually happening at home, and that it’s happening consistently.  One key reason is that parents have had a certain type of relationship with their child for years, and often it’s the type of co-dependent or enabling relationship that has led us to this point.  Therefore it is hard for parents to say “no” at times, to set limits, to hold the limits, etc.

So I usually tell parents that it will take 3, 4, 5, maybe 6 weeks to get in a groove with the system.  During this time they may likely see tears, begging, arguments and more, but they just have to stick with the system.  But then again, we can always tweak it.  Sometimes we will come back to the plan and loosen it up a bit.

Also I tell parents at times to just blame it on the system.  Something like, “The school has set up this plan and we have to do it.  If you can do Mr. Beckett’s plan for x amount of time you can stop”.

7) In-school suspension

This step may come a few months after they get their first 20 minute detention.  But after continued difficulties with the school to home connection (i.e. not getting it filled out), to-do sheets, coming to the study time, etc. we will warn the student and parents that they will have an in-school suspension if this continues.

The step of having an in-school suspension is to symbolize to the student and the parents that this is no longer a Mr. Beckett thing…the school is officially concerned about the inconsistency with the effort.  I have found that this can be a wake up call for many students and their parents and we see positive results afterwards.

And it’s also so that we have official documentation pertaining to our efforts.

I tend to ask the principal for this step once and then tell them I will ask for one more and at that point we will need to have a Student Success Team meeting (i.e. get the counselor, principal, etc. involved).

8) Suspension

At this stage we may go for a suspension and have a meeting with the Student Success Team and parents before the student is allowed to come back. 

During this time we may have a discussion of behavior probation or some other type of formal contract between the family and the school.

This step is more for behavior, not for people that aren’t putting in the effort, but if effort is consistently a problem and we aren’t getting parent support, we have to do what we can in order to either get the student and parents working with us, or setting up a process for having the student counseled out of the school (which could be a year or more after we started the initial process!).



An example of how this whole framework works looks like this…

I may be working with a student who is having difficulty passing their math class.  One of the first steps I do before really digging down into accommodations and working with teacher to differentiate content is to make sure the student is putting in the effort. 

Not to say that we aren’t working with the student to provide supports they need, but the problem is that if the student isn’t putting in the effort in class and outside of class, our time can be wasted.

So what I do every grading period is to look at the grades and if a student has earned a grade below a 75%, or a 4 in the IB system, then we will start with the to-do sheet intervention.  For a better description of the To-do Sheet process I wrote up a quick thing about it HERE.

If they don’t do the to-do sheet one day then they will get 20 minutes make up work time.  If they keep getting the detention time (make up) then eventually I will either up it to 60 minutes each time they don’t do it, or will contact the parents and let them know about my concern.  In order to respect the students as individuals I generally like to work with the students directly before bringing in parents (and admin), so I hold out as long as possible before contacting parents.

If they keep having problems with it we might decide to do a Saturday school to make up a lot of time at once and reset.

For some students we may decide to skip to mandatory study time and just say they have to come 60 minutes a week either with me or the classroom teacher to work on the class where they are below a 75%.

After that we progressively look at what is needed depending on how much the student (and parents at times) are committed to the process.  If I have to hunt down students on a regular basis then we might look at an in-school suspension so that we can get it on the record and let the family know that we officially have a problem.

At around this time is when I am starting to talk to people like the counselor and admin to let them know of what has been going on and consider ideas for things I can do to tweak the process, what next steps we will take administratively, etc.


Relieving the Pressure

I often give students opportunities to take the detention off.  Doing things like playing “the coin toss game”, or if they can finish a certain homework or project in a set period of time I will take a day of detention off, or if they can give me their to-do sheets 5 times in a row I will give them a detention pass, or if they have a good weekly report, I will give them a pass.

As I write this, just last night a student emailed me and said he got an 100 on a quiz in a class where he has to do to-do sheets and since we had just had a parent meeting with admin recently he wanted me to email his mom and let her know how he did.  Then he messaged later and said, “No, let’s make a deal on Monday.  We can take off some detention time”. 

So my thing is to be flexible, reward positive actions, and get their ‘interventions’ done with as soon as possible as they build study habits, in class behavior habits, etc.

Final Thoughts

So this is basically it. 

I have changed it a lot over the years as I see the effectiveness of certain things, or work with counselors or admin challenge me to consider certain practices.  So much so that I started this article from an old Word Doc that listed my progression of consequences and I thought those early ones were a little tough as I deleted parts of my old approach and updated it.  The old mode can be seen on my website though for comparison HERE.


Please let me know your thoughts about this approach. 

As mentioned above this has been an everchanging approach to learning support that I have taken the last 7 years and any comments or questions area greatly appreciated.



5 thoughts on “Supporting Student Effort and Learning: My Progression of Interventions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s