page contents

IST – The Instruction Support Team

What is IST ?

The Instructional Support Team (IST) is an innovative program whose goals are to maximize individual student success in the regular classroom, while at the same time serving as a screening process for students who may be in a need of special education services. IST is a positive, success-oriented program which uses specific assessment and intervention techniques to help remove educational, behavioral, or affective stumbling blocks for all students in the regular classroom.

The program shifts the critical question in education from asking “What’s wrong with the student?” to asking “What resources can we use to increase the student’s chances for success?”. IST answers this question through a team approach that provides for greater cohesiveness, coordination, and instructional continuity, and complements existing curriculum and instructional programs.

Any Elementary student who experiences consistent academic or behavioral problems may be a candidate for IST. This includes students beginning to display problems in regular education, as well as students with disabilities who are included in regular education programs. Students are identified for IST services by the classroom teacher, other educators, or parents.

Who Are The Members of the IST?

Although members of the IST may differ from school to school, the team always includes the building principal, the student’s classroom teacher, and the support teacher. The parents are encouraged to participate as active partners in the process. The school psychologist, guidance counselor, Chapter I teacher, speech pathologist, school nurse and representatives from community agencies may also serve on the IST, depending on the needs of the student.

The IST determines what strategies should be implemented to help the student achieve success in the regular classroom. The IST concept is based on team work. Collaboration and joint planning occur throughout the entire process. Each member of the team has equal input and decision-making power to determine what methods, learning strategies, special techniques, or programs best address the student’s area(s) of weakness.

Who Is The Support Teacher ?

The support teacher is selected by the district and works under the supervision of the building principal. The support teacher helps coordinate, collaborate, assess, train, and assist the school staff in meeting the specific instructional needs of the students who struggle within regular classroom programs.

Support teachers perform classroom observations, conduct curriculum-based assessments, consult with classroom teachers about students considered for instructional support, and participate in all IST meetings. The support teacher facilitates intervention techniques in the classroom. As a student shows success, the support teacher’s direct involvement is phased out in favor of the classroom teacher or other education personnel.

Support teachers are specially trained through the Instructional Support Team Project of the Bureau of the Special Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education.

How Does IST Work?

The IST process involves three steps:

1) Identifying a student’s need for academic or behavioral support;

2) Determining the strategies needed to assist the student;

3) Implementing intervention strategies through a continuum of services.

After an initial assessment of the student’s academic, behavioral, and/or coping skills, the IST recommends strategies to be implemented to help the student achieve success in the regular classroom. The team determines what support is needed for the student to maintain a level of success in the classroom. These strategies are evaluated by the team after 30 days, based on the goals set for the student. If the student’s teacher reports a positive change, the strategies are continued. If there is no progress, the student is referred for a multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE) which may recommend special education services

The IST process in elementary schools represents a system of problem-solving driven by students’ needs. At the core of the process is the belief that all students can learn and that all students matter. IST maximizes the teaching resources within schools by incorporating the best of regular and special education in A SYSTEMATIC SEARCH FOR WHAT WORKS!.

Share This