Law Office of Michelle Ball curriculum/grades/testing Student Study Teams: Do They Get Results In School?

Student Study Teams: Do They Get Results In School?

SST school

Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

Students often seem to chug along unnoticed.  Students go to school and do homework and on and on like a spinning wheel.  What if a school administrator calls and says a student has been referred for an “SST meeting?”  What is this “SST” and should a parent get one?

SST for students
An SST is a Student Study Team which may develop an “SST” plan to help a student

What is an SST?

In the simplest form, an SST is a written school plan, usually available for students who don’t qualify for special education, but who may need help in the general education environment.

What Does SST Stand For?

I have heard the abbreviation student or school SST interpreted different ways over the years, but here are the most common “definitions:”

–  Student Study Team

General education SSTs
The letters “SST” can have different meanings.

–  Student Success Team

–  Student Support Team

–  Any plan developed by an SST team (“Please sign the SST”) (the “SST Plan” or “SST”)

–  Or, the SST team meeting itself (“See you at the SST tomorrow…”)

Who is on the Student’s SST Team? 

This SST team is made up of unspecified school staff, such as teachers, administrators, and others working in the school system.  They become SST team members when someone, usually a general education teacher, observes a student is having struggles in school with his/her studies, behavior, or otherwise.  Then a school SST team meeting may be called.

A student SST is a general education “tool” to try to assist a student, and implement some strategies to avert the student’s apparent decline in school.

What is In a School SST Plan?

A student’s SST Plan may list areas of difficulty, what the parent will do to remedy school struggles, and minor things the school will do.  Responsibility for follow through is usually assigned generally, to e.g. the “teacher.” 

SST student help
SSTs can rejuvenate students if schools follow through

Student SSTs Are Not As Enforceable As Other Plans

SST plans are great for students that are not in special education or on a 504 (disability accommodations) plan or who don’t want to be labelled “special education.”    

However, the bad thing about school SST plans is that they are not enforceable similar to a 504 Plan or IEP (Individualized Education Program– special education plan).  In other words, parents cannot easily go in later and say- “You were supposed to do x, y and z for this student per the SST!” and file some claim against the school for a legal remedy in court or with an administrative agency.  

SST’s are Great in Theory

A student SST is nothing if no one decides to do the steps written in the SST Plan. 

So it is important that the school staff drafting the SST are honorable and actually implement the student’s SST Plan.  Otherwise it’s not worth anything.  

If the school staff are behind an SST plan, things can improve for the student.  In that case, if a student needs some additional general education support, an SST can help.  For example, if the plan decides a student needs to be checked on by teachers more frequently than other students, and the teacher does this based on the SST, the student could benefit greatly.

SST plans in schools
A school SST Plan can contain useful, but minor, supports for the student in the general education classroom

Are SSTs Mandated Prior To Special Education?

I have often seen school SSTs touted as things parents have to endure prior to moving to a 504 or IEP assessment. It is false that an SST is a prerequisite to assessment for special education and statements like this are not legal.   

An SST cannot be mandated to occur BEFORE a 504 or IEP assessment proceeds at parent request.  

No Legal Timelines for School SSTs  

SSTs also have no legal timelines, unless a timeline is specifically outlined in school or district policy.  Student SST timeline mandates exist only if a school district binds itself and its schools.   

For example, if a school board votes to implement a policy that all student SST meetings will be held in 10 days after a parent SST meeting request, that could potentially obligate the school to take timely action.  However, in that case, the school district would have to decide to BIND ITSELF, usually in board policy, to meeting student SST timelines. 

Student SSTs Are Fantastic If School Staff Implement Them

SST enforcement
Students can be helped by SSTs if they are actually implemented.

Student SSTs are basically plans that are great if you have good school staff that will actually follow through.  Some schools do, so SSTs are worth a shot as they are often better than nothing for a student. 

Parents, however, may have to help the school follow through to implement the SST to help little Johnny, or he may be quickly left behind.

Parents should never presume any school SSTs are actually being done at school.  SST implementation should always be verified. 

Special education, 504 and SST lawyer Michelle Ball helps parents navigate the school system to help students do better and receive more school support. As a student attorney in Sacramento California, Michelle Ball can get involved throughout the state in Roseville, San Francisco, Fresno, Riverside, Los Angeles, Monterey, Jackson and many other locations.