Responding to Students of Concern

Best Practices for Behavioral Intervention Teams

Topics: Student Affairs, Student Health and Wellness, Mental Health and Counseling, Student Health Centers, Alcohol and Drug Use, Student Experience, Special Populations, Academic Support Programs

Practice #15: Ongoing Case Review and Tracking

Making It Harder to Fall Through the Cracks

Review Sessions Help Teams Pull-Up and Discuss Open Cases

Forum research surfaced several tactics designed to increase the visibility of open or ongoing cases. One strategy to enhance transparency is a semester pull-up session where the team reviews all cases handled across the term. The group goes through the cases chronologically to ensure that nothing has fallen off the radar.

During the review, special attention is paid to cases still marked as open or monitor, which will be carried over to the next semester. For each open case, team members focus on next steps, discussing proactive outreach eff orts and potential support resources. Overall, these sessions act as a forcing mechanism for the team, helping them to step back, review their performance, and ensure that cases haven’t fallen through the cracks.

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The Crisis in the Crowd

Keeping High-Priority Students at the Forefront of BIT Work

Currently, many BITs struggle to prioritize cases in the face of an ever-increasing workload. A student who goes quiet after a period of crisis can fall off the team’s agenda and therefore the group may assume the intervention was successful. Experts suggest, however, that these quiet cases may in fact be places where the team should pay extra attention.

To increase the visibility of high-priority students, some BITs have implemented resource intensive solutions. For example, vendor databases have built in mechanisms designed to keep certain students top of mind.

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Maxient Allows for Personalized Watch Lists

Helping Team Members Track High-Priority and Ongoing Cases1

For example, Maxient users can create private, personal watch lists of students who may require extensive support and follow-up. After a user adds a student to their watch list, they receive notifi cations about any developments regarding that student.

When an alert is generated, the user can go into the system and see the information if they have the appropriate user rights. If the person does not have the appropriate user rights to view the case, they can see that something was created in the system as well as who to contact if they need additional information or want to consult.

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Intervening Before the Breaking Point

Symplicity’s SympScore Alerts Teams about Escalating Cases

Symplicity’s CARE Module includes functionality that alerts teams about escalating cases. When the system is set up on campus, administrators assign points to various categories of behavior. For example, the team might decide that suicide ideation carries a value of 150 points in the system whereas classroom outbursts are worth 50 points. These points are then aggregated and produce an overall SympScore for each student.

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Symplicity Advocate’s SympScore

System Feature Ensures Maximum Visibility for High-Priority Cases1

A student’s cumulative SympScore is plotted against a threshold set by administrators (such as 125 points). Students who exceed the threshold are automatically placed on a priority list for quick, frequent review. This list can help BITs spot students who may be escalating towards a crisis or identify people with multiple concerns who are popping up in various offi ces across campus.

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Left in the Dark

Teams Typically Unaware of Returning Students

While semester pull-ups and watch lists improve communication around ongoing cases, BIT data gathering and tracking tends to end when a student goes on leave or withdraws. Typically, teams record the outcome and close the case in the recordkeeping system. As a result, many teams are unaware when a former student of concern returns to campus. This information gap means that teams often miss an opportunity to proactively connect with the student before their return.

Forum interviewees suggest one way to address this information gap is to have a hold or flag placed on the student’s file so that when they return from leave or are readmitted the BIT is automatically alerted.

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Facilitating a Smoother Return

Proactive Outreach and Support Fosters Student Success

One institution that stands out in proactively working with and supporting returning students is the University of South Florida. Their Students of Concern Assistance Team helps students voluntarily withdraw from classes for medical or psychological reasons. As part of that program, students agree to a return process in which they meet with a case manager and submit treatment forms from their community provider.

During the meeting with the case manager, the student discusses their time away from campus, their readiness to return, and their ability to function autonomously and independently. The meeting focuses on identifying resources for the student’s success.

Students who participate in the process described above are not reapplying to the institution. They are simply returning and have a flag placed on their registration until they complete the agreed upon process. At USF, students remain “active students” for three semesters after a leave.

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Practice #14: Student-Facing Case Management

Linking IT Work to Student Success