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Student Assistance Team: General Screening and Student Intervention Guidelines

Each school has a Student Assistance Team (SAT) whose purpose is to support the progress of students struggling with the general education curriculum despite the use of differentiated instruction and universal interventions. The SAT develops Tier 2 interventions for at-risk students who are not responding to the Tier 1 core program in the general education environment for students who might need supplemental, strategic, and individualized support.

Initial evaluation for special education (Tier 3 interventions) is appropriate when the SAT recommends the same or agrees with a parent request.

Screening Procedures Applicable to all Students

Purpose: General screening utilizes the school-wide systems already established for providing general information about the status and progress of each student and for locating students who have unique needs.

Definition: General screening refers to all types of general information collected about students at each school level. This information relates to the student's present levels of performance, standardized test information, health records, and/or other available reports.

Parental Notification: This notification is provided as part of the general parental notification prior to the SAT meeting (SAT Notification Parent Letter).

The following are examples of general screening procedures applicable to all students:

  • Ongoing child identification (public awareness and screening)
  • Vision and hearing screening (in accordance with APS Nurse Procedure Manual)
  • Review of health records
  • State and district-mandated tests
  • Placement tests
  • Progress reports
  • Documented teacher observations (including study skills, social behaviors, learning styles, test scores, academic skills, etc.)
  • Attendance records
  • Cumulative file data
  • Primary languages/alternative language services
  • Demographic information
  • Other available data
  • Student interventions prior to the Student Assistance Team review

Purpose: Teacher(s) identifies areas of individual student need and address(es) those needs in the classroom and/or with the parent(s)

Definition: Interventions are actions designed to meet the individual student’s needs in an educational setting. Interventions may include but are not limited to:

  • Changing instructional strategies for the student
  • Seeking parental involvement (when appropriate) including notification and/or conference
  • Initiating a behavior management system for the student
  • Conducting a documented observation of the learning environment and the individual student’s behavior by someone other than the student’s teacher
  • Initiating a weekly and/or daily progress report
  • Providing special services/program (i.e., Title I, Alternative Language)
  • Providing services and/or tutorial services
  • Providing school counseling services
  • Providing substance abuse intervention and support
  • Reassigning student to another class(es)/level and
  • Enrolling in an alternative school setting

Procedure for students in need of individual intervention:

  • Consideration of General Screening information 
  • Classroom teacher(s) and/or individual(s) identifies area(s) of need for student
  • Interventions are selected by the identifying person and implemented for individual students with parent participation/notification 
  • Determination of language proficiency when primary language is not English

Review of Student Referrals by the Student Assistance Team

Purpose: Teacher(s) gather all relevant data on students referred for Student Assistance Team review. The team recommends interventions for individual students whose specific needs have been identified.

Definition: The Student Assistance Team is an interdisciplinary team that reviews referrals of individual students whose educational needs have not been resolved through strategies for students in need of intervention. Referral to the school Health and Wellness Team should not be seen as a replacement for SAT referral. The population being considered will include:

  • Students who are performing below standards and/or who are exceeding standards
  • Students being considered for an Academic Improvement Plan - Level II
  • Students with social, emotional, or behavioral skills deficits
  • Students with disabilities not eligible for Special Education services who may be considered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and/or 
  • Former special education students who are returning to general education, but need modifications that may be considered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Students who are not showing improvement after repeated implementation of Tier I interventions with fidelity.
  • Students identified as being at very high risk academically and/or behaviorally and who are suspected of having a disability or giftedness based on the results of universal screening be referred to SAT and may consider moving to Tier 2 interventions at any time.

Prior to initiating a Student Assistance Team review, parent notification of individual student screening and review is required. The date(s) and result(s) of parent and school contact(s) (either in person or by telephone) must be documented. Required parent notification includes sending and maintaining a copy of the SAT Parent Notification Letter.


Classroom teacher(s), parent(s), or other person(s) will initiate a review by the Student Assistance Team.

All members of the Student Assistance Team must be trained in district policies related to the SAT process. The membership of the Student Assistance Team should include as many of the following as applicable and feasible:

  • Principal or designee
  • Counselor or designee 
  • General education teacher 
  • Special education teacher (when applicable) 
  • Teacher(s) of student being reviewed 
  • Licensed nurse (if available) 
  • Parent and student (when appropriate) 
  • Other members as appropriate 
  • A facilitator, if designated, must be from general education

The purpose of the SAT is to conduct the student study process and consider, implement and document the effectiveness of appropriate research-based interventions utilizing curriculum-based measures.  As part of the child study process, the SAT shall address culture and acculturation, socioeconomic status, possible lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, teaching and learning styles and instructional delivery mechanisms in order to rule out other possible causes of the student's educational difficulties.  When it is determined that a student has an obvious disability or a serious and urgent problem, the SAT shall address the student's needs promptly on an individualized basis, which may include a referral for a full, initial evaluation to determine possible eligibility for special education and related services consistent with the requirements. NMAC. This same level of expediency applies to children who are homeless or in foster care. At the initial SAT meeting, after reviewing all collected data, the SAT makes one of the following decisions:

  • The student does not appear to require new interventions and a Tier 2 intervention plan is unnecessary
  • The student’s challenges suggest a SAT intervention plan or BIP is warranted
  • The existing data is insufficient for a complete determination. The referring teacher must provide additional information
  • The student’s performance indicates a possible disability or a disabling condition that significantly restricts a major life activity, and requires an evaluation to confirm the presence of such disability and the possible need of special education services or Section 504 supports

At the follow-up SAT meeting:

Tier 2 interventions should be progress-monitored and graphed in two-week increments. After approximately nine weeks** (with at least four data points), a follow-up SAT should be held to determine the effectiveness of the interventions, based on whether or not there has been a positive trend in the student’s learning. After examining the data points at the follow-up SAT meeting, the SAT makes one of the following decisions:

  • Improvement noted - no further actions/interventions required.
  • Improvement noted – continue current actions/interventions until (insert date)
  • Improvement noted – continue with current plan with revision(s) until (insert date)
  • No improvement noted – create revised action/SAT intervention plan
  • No improvement noted – create new action/intervention plan
  • No improvement noted – refer student for Section 504 eligibility consideration (See Section 504 procedures)
  • No improvement noted – refer student for special education evaluation consideration to determine whether Tier 3 services are required. **

If it is suspected that the student is a student with a disability who, by reason of that disability, requires special education and related services, an immediate referral should be made to special education.

A confidential record of each student reviewed by the team must be maintained by the Student Assistance Team with relevant documents uploaded into the student’s electronic cumulative file.

If a student transfers within APS, the receiving school will review the student's SAT plan with its staff.

If a student is referred for a special education evaluation, a copy of the records is placed in the referral packet.

If a student is transferred to a non-APS school, or disenrolled, the school must place appropriate records in the student’s electronic cumulative file and destroy any remaining records.

Prior Written Notice of Refusal to Evaluate 

Definition: Prior Written Notice of Refusal to Evaluate means written notification to a parent or guardian whose request for an initial special education evaluation of their child is being refused.

Purpose: Prior Written Notice of Refusal to Evaluate notifies the parent/legal guardian of the district’s intent to refuse a request for evaluation by the parent or legal guardian.


  • Written or verbal request for initial special education evaluation made by parent or legal guardian
  • Principal or designee completes Request for Initial Special Education Evaluation (the “Request”) and submits to the APS Office of the SAT liaison
  • Principal notifies the school SAT chair to convene a SAT for the referred student if not already in process
  • The SAT convenes within 10 school days to consider the request for initial special education evaluation in accord with guidelines published by the SAT Liaison Office
  • If SAT agrees an initial special education evaluation is appropriate, the SAT chair will forward the request and the available SAT documents to the APS Special Education Department. The SAT chair will ensure copies of this documentation is:
    • Provided to the Parent/legal guardian; AND
    • Placed in the Child’s SAT working folder in the SAT Liaison Office; AND
    • Provided to the APS General Education compliance officer or designee; AND
    • Updated into the student’s electronic cumulative folder
    • The SAT may disagree with a parent request for initial evaluation ONLY IF ALL of the following apply:
      • The student is currently in the RTI process for all areas of suspected disability and/or exceptionality, including the area(s) of concern raised by the parent as part of the parent’s request for evaluation; AND
      • The student is currently receiving interventions in all areas of suspected disability and/or exceptionality, including the area(s) of concern raised by the parent as part of the parent’s request for evaluation; AND
      • It is undisputed by the SAT that the student is currently demonstrating progress appropriate for that student in all area(s) of suspected disability including all area(s) of concern raised by the parent as part of the parent’s request for evaluation; AND
      • On the date the parent requests an initial evaluation of her/his child, there already exists documented data, developed through that student’s RTI process, unequivocally demonstrating to the SAT that the student is already making appropriate progress in all area(s) of suspected disability including all area(s) of concern raised by the parent as part of the parent’s request for evaluation.
    • In the very limited circumstances where the SAT refuses a parent’s request for initial evaluation of a student for special education eligibility, the SAT must provide to the parent within ten (10) school days from the initial SAT meeting, a Prior Written Notice of Refusal to Evaluate containing the following information:
      • a statement that APS refuses to conduct the evaluation; AND
      • an explanation for the refusal; AND
      • a description of each evaluation, procedure, assessment, record or report the SAT used as a basis for the refusal; AND
      • a statement that, if the student is in fact a student with a disability, the parents have protection under the procedural safeguards of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the New Mexico Administrative Code; AND
      • a copy of the Procedural Safeguards published by APS; AND
      • a description of other options the SAT may have considered to support the student and how those may serve as a basis for the refusal; AND
      • a description of other factors relevant to APS’s refusal
    • The SAT chair will ensure copies of a Prior Written Notice for Refusal to Evaluate form is received by:
      • parent/legal guardian; AND
      • child’s SAT working folder in the SAT Liaison Office;
      • Updated into the student’s electronic cumulative folder
    • Upon decision by the SAT regarding an initial special education evaluation, the SAT chair will ensure the classroom teacher(s) are notified of SAT’s decision
    • If the SAT agrees to conduct an initial evaluation, the evaluation/testing will proceed according to state and federal law, as well as the district’s procedural directives regarding full and individual evaluation, and such evaluation/testing will occur in parallel with the SAT process at the school
Administrative Position:
  • Associate Superintendent of Equity, Instruction, Innovation and Support
  • Associate Superintendent of Special Education
Department Director:
  • Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction 
  • Executive Director of Special Education
Legal Ref:
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • NM Children’s Code § 22-2C-6 NMSA 1978
Board Policy Cross Ref:
  • JB Equal Educational Outcomes
  • JR1 Student Records
Procedural Directive Cross Ref: 
  • Special Education: Full and Individual Evaluation
  • Records Retention and Disposition Schedule
Forms Cross Ref:
NSBA/NEPN Classification: JGBE
Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: July 1996
Revised: June 1997
Revised: December 2002
Reviewed: July 2018
Reviewed: June 22, 2020
Revised: July 10, 2020