Student Support Teams: Helping Students Succeed in General Education Classrooms or Working to Place Students in Special Education?

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Student Support Teams (SST), also known as Prereferal Intervention Teams, are designed to help general education teachers solve student learning and behavior problems in the general education classroom. However, little is known about general education teachers' beliefs about SST or how SST actually works. This qualitative study was designed to discover 24 general education elementary teachers' beliefs and perceptions about SST and the types of students they brought to SST. In individual interviews, teachers were asked to tell a story about a student they had referred to SST Category development followed procedures for open and axial coding. Results showed that SST was not functioning as designed and that: (a) teachers clearly believed the primary purpose of SST was to test and place students into special education programs; (b) teachers referred students to SST with whom they had not been successful; (c) teachers believed their role was to document what had been tried and not worked to solve the students' problems; and (d) teachers believed that there was a covert evaluation process by administrators during the SST process which created anxiety and fear on the part of the teachers.

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