Extended Description of Enhancing Instructional Problem Solving

Intended for use by school leaders and specialized educators (including, but not limited to, school principals, school psychologists, special education teachers, Title I teachers, and reading specialists) this practical guidebook describes a flexible and resource-efficient model of academic support that can be successfully used in elementary schools with varying strengths, weaknesses, resources, and organizational structures.

For instance, the model is designed to align with a school’s existing practices, it can be implemented incrementally, and it can be used to support schools that currently use or do not use a structured problem-solving model such as Response to Intervention (RTI). For schools that strive to assist all struggling learners more effectively and efficiently, the well-aligned procedures and reproducible materials described in this book offer a clear roadmap for an educator or small group of educators to improve students’ reading, math, or writing skills.

For example, the model aligns research-based assessment and intervention services for students, targeted professional development for teachers, and a system for recruiting and meaningfully utilizing school volunteers and assistive school personnel. Also, in an attempt to save educators time, the book describes dozens of research-based reading, math, and writing intervention programs (and complementary, brief assessment methods), all of which are described in a way that connects with the model’s system for providing targeted intervention for struggling learners. Procedures and materials are also available within the book to facilitate quick, but detailed documentation of a school’s efforts to assist each struggling learner.

Furthermore, with guidance about adaptable and incremental implementation of the model, as well as specific recommendations for introducing and evaluating the model for teachers and administration, the book offers educators a realistic way to successfully initiate and sustain the model over time.

Collectively, the potential benefits and unique features of this book, and the model described within it, are as follows:

  1. The model integrates a structured system of instructional problem-solving (referred to as TAPS) and a plan for training and communicating with teachers and administrators about the system. By using a comprehensive, systems-level approach that incorporates research-based interventions, students’ learning deficits are more likely to improve and the system for addressing their deficits is more likely to be implemented with consistency and integrity.
  2. The model can be implemented by one school-based leader (e.g., administrator, school psychologist, special education teacher) or co-facilitated by 2-4 educators.
  3. The model easily fits into other contemporary problem-solving models, such as RTI and problem-solving “teams,” or it can be implemented without a school’s adoption of a separate problem-solving model. For schools that have not adopted a problem-solving model such as RTI, incremental implementation of the model described in this book may serve as a foundation for later adding an approach such as RTI.
  4. The model is designed to be more time- and resource-efficient than an instructional problem-solving model that relies on school-based teams to address individual student problems. Within the book, the typical amount of time needed to facilitate the model is specified.
  5. The components of the model can be implemented incrementally, as needed, and the model is designed to build upon a school’s existing practices and strengths, rather than move a school toward completely “new” practices. This approach to implementation is intended to (a) improve the overall success of implementation and sustainability, (b) limit stressors and barriers associated with creating school-wide procedural modifications, and (c) allow educators to progressively influence systemic change within a school.
  6. The TAPS process allows for systematic implementation, documentation, and evaluation of academic interventions. This is important because state and federal agencies are increasingly requiring documentation of schools’ efforts to assist individual students and the outcome of those efforts. Schools that fail to provide good documentation of their efforts to serve students in general education may find themselves out of compliance with federal and state requirements, and out of step with the increased emphasis on early intervention that is reflected in recent legislation.
  7. The model aims to maximize school personnel and community volunteers in an effort to address students’ learning needs. This component of the model also helps to (a) empower community volunteers; (b) extend school resources; and (c) demonstrate that many assistive school personnel (e.g., school counselors, social workers) can help to address the needs of struggling learners.
  8. The model does not require that all educators have a mastery knowledge of instructional interventions and consultation because (a) the model integrates numerous forms of ongoing professional development activities, and (b) the book provides easy-to-use resources for implementation, including suggestions for evidence-based intervention programs across the primary academic areas (reading, math, and writing) and sub-areas (e.g., phonics, vocabulary, basic math facts).
  9. The book can be used as a primary or supplemental textbook for graduate students training to work in schools (e.g., school psychologists, special education teachers, principals), or even used with pre-service regular education teachers. In fact, the final chapter of the book describes tasks and assignments that are directly related to the book, which college instructors can use to strengthen university students’ knowledge and experiences with key aspects of working in schools (e.g., evidence-based assessment and intervention, academic consultation, continuing professional development, communicating effectively with school personnel and administration).

Key Points

  • A flexible and adaptable model that easily aligns with a school's existing academic support practices (including RTI) and can be put into place incrementally.
  • Offers a clear, well-written roadmap for improving students' reading, writing, and math.
  • Extremely practical: features reproducibles, plus supplemental materials at the authors' website.
  • Efficient and realistic: attuned to the time and resource constraints that educators face.
  • Many resources (including the SOPAA website) to assist educators with using the model.


School psychologists, administrators, special educators, reading specialists, school counselors and social workers, and general education teachers working in grades K–8.

Use in College/University Courses

The SOPAA guidebook was written for educational practitioners and educators in training. Therefore, the book can also serve as a text or a supplemental text in graduate-level courses. Click here to learn more about using this book in college courses.

Photocopy Rights

The Publisher grants individual book purchasers nonassignable permission to reproduce selected materials in the book for professional use. For details and limitations, see copyright page of the book.