The Early Intervention Team (EIT) was initiated at Penn State Mont Alto in fall 2007 in an effort to identify at-risk students, and respond with appropriate interventions.
The program provides employees with an opportunity to share their concerns about a student. The main purpose of the EIT is to identify students of concern and intervene as early as possible. The students may be experiencing academic, personal, mental health, relationship, or other issues that could interfere with their academic success or adjustment to college life, or create a danger to themselves or others.
Why is this important?
In light of recent court rulings, and the findings from the Virginia Tech tragedy, the University has a responsibility to establish avenues to identify and report signs of high risk students. A review panel on the Virginia Tech situation recommended that colleges do more to share information about troubled students. About half of the colleges in the country had teams aimed at doing so, and as many as a quarter more have quickly added them. Penn State has established a Threat Assessment Team at the University Park campus, and recommends that every campus have a similar initiative in place.
What are the goals of the program?
The main goal is to identify students in distress early enough to provide appropriate support and/or response, and to improve retention and student success. The program is designed to accomplish this through early identification of students who are at risk in different ways, including:
- Academic progress that is unresolved with faculty intervention (i.e. students not responding to faculty attempts related to class attendance, course performance, etc.)
- Personal health or wellness (i.e. students who continue to exhibit symptoms of impaired health, even after appropriate referral to a health provider)
- Students exhibiting behaviors or expressing comments which have the potential to impact the safety of themselves or others
- Students exhibiting strange or bizarre behavioral patterns that have the potential for impaired performance and/or disruption to others
- Extreme changes in behavioral patterns (i.e. hyperactivity or very rapid speech, depressed or lethargic mood, deterioration in hygiene, etc.)
**Note: For mental health emergencies related to imminent danger to self or others, please call 911**
How will this work?
Penn State Mont Alto employees will have the opportunity to identify and confidentially report concerns related to student behavior as it relates to academic progress, wellness, safety and/or other related issues. A web-based form can be completed on the website noted above. Depending on the nature of the concern, specific Early Intervention Team members will receive the submissions and screen them for priority standing. Referral sources will automatically be notified by the system when their web-based form is received. The Early Intervention Team will meet every other week in the fall and spring (and as needed in the summer) to review the information submitted and determine appropriate outreach/intervention. Referrals will be made to the appropriate academic, administrative or Student Affairs department. The EIT chair will provide liaison and follow-up as required, and will maintain documentation of EIT form submissions, outreach and referral. This early identification system is not meant to replace individual interventions by faculty and staff and should only be used if other direct methods have been tried and failed!
- For example, if a faculty member notices that a student is exhibiting poor attendance or not doing well on exams, it is expected that they will address this with the student directly. If this does not yield positive results or the situation becomes worse, the faculty member is encouraged to engage the Early Intervention Team for assistance. Additionally, it is advised that the faculty and staff inform the student that they are providing this information to the Early Intervention Team and that someone from the team may be contacting them.
- Example two: The faculty member notices that a student has become despondent in class. She looks sad, does not maintain eye contact and is not completing course tasks. The faculty member is encouraged to address these observations with the student and refer the student to the appropriate campus resource, i.e., Counseling Services. At follow-up, the faculty member recognizes that the student did not pursue this and continues to exhibit the same behaviors. It is recommended that the faculty member engage the Early Intervention Team, letting the student know that they are concerned and that someone else on campus might be able to help them.
- Example three: A Resident Assistant (RA) in one of the residence halls notices that one of the students on his floor consistently does not go to class, comes in very late at least four nights a week, and seems to avoid other students on the floor. His attempts to engage the student have been unsuccessful. He informed the Residence Life Coordinator, who also was unsuccessful in his attempts to intervene with the student. It is recommended that the Coordinator complete an Early Intervention Team Referral Form. He is encouraged to let the student know that because he is concerned about his welfare and his academic progress, he is sharing his concern with the team and that someone will be contacting him.
The Early Intervention Team is comprised of the
- Director of Student Affairs (chair)
- Associate Director of Student Affairs (Residence Life)
- Campus Counselor
- Campus Nurse
- Chief of Police Services
- Academic Support Center Director
- DUS Coordinator
- Student Advocacy Specialist
- Faculty Representative
The Early Intervention Team is responsible for the following:
- Review of submitted forms
- Determining the disposition of cases reviewed
- Documentation of actions
- Appropriate delegation for follow-up based on the situation addressed
What about confidentiality?
Details reviewed by the Early Intervention Team will be kept confidential by all members. Information may be shared on a strictly “need to know” basis in order to refer the student to the correct campus resource or intervene as appropriate. FERPA allows for communication to be shared among “school officials” who have a legitimate educational interest. Under FERPA, there is clear exception for any risks to health or safety. One good resource is the USDE publication “Balancing Student Privacy and School Safety: A Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act for Colleges and Universities”, which can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/brochures/postsec.html
What other resources are available?
Faculty and staff may find the following additional resources helpful when responding to student behaviors that are of concern: