Using the APEX Model to Identify Student Behavior Problems – And Solve Them

As a social worker, I know from experience that thorough assessment of a student’s problem is a difficult task. More importantly, treatments and solutions won’t work if the original problem was assessed incorrectly. In many cases, by the time a student came to me with an issue, the biggest challenge for me was to identify the root of the behavioral problem.

As a result, I noticed that each child goes through a learning cycle or process, and by categorizing this process into steps, I could successfully identify the student’s source of difficulties and then help them work through it. This is how the APEX model came to life.

What is the APEX model?

The APEX model consists of four components: A for Attendance, P for Preparedness, E for Engagement, and X (CS) for Challenge and Success. Let’s take a closer look at each of these components.

Attendance:

Attendance is the first component of the APEX model. Essentially, students need to be present in the classroom for learning to happen. If they’re not there, nothing is happening. True attendance is when students are in the classroom, present and learning. They could show up to school but go to the nurse’s office or the bathroom all too often. If they’re only in the classroom 75% of the time learning is happening, they’ll most likely only learn 75% of the things they need to succeed on assessments. If students aren’t attending classes, working through issues is an uphill battle, so it’s important to be very mindful of this component as the first and foremost step.

Preparedness:
Preparedness is the second component of the APEX model. Students need to be prepared when they show up, but this can manifest in both visible and invisible ways. For example, coming to class with the necessary supplies, a stomach that isn’t growling due to having eaten a good breakfast, and smiling and cheerful are all visible signs that students came prepared. They could also come prepared with a good night’s sleep, focused, calm, and ready to learn – all invisible ways that students come to school prepared. Of course, this means there are invisible obstacles to being prepared that we need to keep an eye out for.
Engagement:

Engagement is the third component of the APEX model. Before learning can begin, students need to be engaged. At ClasStars, we identify engagement into two types: entitled engagement and earned engagement. Entitled engagements are acts of positive feedback and attention that each child deserves for just being there – for example, a personal handshake or a complimentary comment in the morning. A teacher went viral on social media for having a personalized handshake with every single one of his students, and they started their morning by entering the classroom after doing a different handshake each time. That’s personalized attention and engagement that the teacher gave each student just for being there.

On the other hand, earned engagement is the type of engagement we’re used to, the type that students need to work for – for example, praise for good deeds for work well done. The bottom line is that children need entitled engagement (even if they didn’t “deserve” it) to succeed. If teachers are only giving out earned praises, then some students will inevitably not receive any, which would be very discouraging for their growth and success.

Challenge and Success:

Challenge and Success is the final component of the APEX model. Once students are present, prepared, and engaged, the learning needs to be challenging; otherwise there will be no growth. On the other hand, if they just fail again and again at the challenge, students will ultimately fail. That’s why they eventually need to experience success to grow. And as they succeed, they can be challenged again and the cycle helps them continue to grow and succeed.

Identifying Problems and Solutions Using the APEX Model

Now that we’ve explored the four components of the APEX model, let’s look at how to identify problems and provide solutions for each component.

Attendance:

The first step in addressing attendance issues is to track attendance because as stated earlier, you may not have a very clear idea of how “present” students are when they’re going to the bathroom, maybe more than they should be. While this only requires a piece of paper and a pen at your side, you can also use a tool like ClasStars for accurate and easy tracking to monitor student attendance and intervene if necessary. Once you have the data to back it up, you can begin to challenge students when they return from the bathroom after 20 minutes, or if they miss 30% of a lesson.

Preparedness:

To address preparedness issues, you need to be observant and attentive to your students’ needs. As you get to know your students, you’ll pick up on the invisible signs of distress and unpreparedness. For example, you can ask students if they’re hungry in the morning, how they’re doing if they seem a little down, and provide support in ways you can. Once you know why the student is unprepared, it becomes easier to help them with that specific problem.

Engagement:

To ensure that students are engaged in the classroom, you need to provide the minimum amount of entitled engagements that each student requires every single day. Again, this could be a simple acknowledgement of a simple feat: being at school, a cool t-shirt, having eaten breakfast, saying “good morning” to someone. Then, of course, with each good deed, you should reward them with earned engagement.

The key with engagement – and particularly entitled engagement – is to be super mindful to include everybody, because it is so easy to overlook a handful of students in a hectic classroom. Like with attendance, you can keep track with a simple class list and check off the students that you engage with as you go. If this sounds too complicated, this process can become systematically easy to manage with the right tool. With a dedicated platform for engagement like ClasStars, the data input becomes simple, easy, and supported by a color coded system to highlight where everyone in your class stands in regards to engagement.

Challenge and Success:

To ensure that students are continuing to grow and learn, they need to be challenged and then succeed. If students begin to disengage with your lessons despite the first three components of the APEX model being satisfied, then try to slow down and take it back with their learning or reassess their learning style. Perhaps they need a different approach to this certain topic, or it’s too easy or too challenging for them. Simply asking them these questions and then changing your teaching method slightly based on their answers could be enough to re-engage them.

A formative assessment is an effective tool to get a good measure of how well students are learning via this process. There are many systems and tools that teachers can use to measure formative assessment – for instance, ClasStars.

The APEX model can be a valuable framework for assessing and addressing student problems. By focusing on components of attendance, preparedness, engagement, and challenge and success, you can provide the support and guidance that each student needs to succeed. As a teacher, you have the power to make a difference in the lives of your students. Use the APEX model to help them reach their full potential.

As a social worker, I know from experience that thorough assessment of a student’s problem is a difficult task. More importantly, treatments and solutions won’t work if the original problem was assessed incorrectly. In many cases, by the time a student came to me with an issue, the biggest challenge for me was to identify the root of the behavioral problem. 

As a result, I noticed that each child goes through a learning cycle or process, and by categorizing this process into steps, I could successfully identify the student’s source of difficulties and then help them work through it. This is how the APEX model came to life. 

What is the APEX model?

The APEX model consists of four components: A for Attendance, P for Preparedness, E for Engagement, and X (CS) for Challenge and Success. Let’s take a closer look at each of these components. 

Attendance:

Attendance is the first component of the APEX model. Essentially, students need to be present in the classroom for learning to happen. If they’re not there, nothing is happening. True attendance is when students are in the classroom, present and learning. They could show up to school but go to the nurse’s office or the bathroom all too often. If they’re only in the classroom 75% of the time learning is happening, they’ll most likely only learn 75% of the things they need to succeed on assessments. If students aren’t attending classes, working through issues is an uphill battle, so it’s important to be very mindful of this component as the first and foremost step.

Preparedness:

Preparedness is the second component of the APEX model. Students need to be prepared when they show up, but this can manifest in both visible and invisible ways. For example, coming to class with the necessary supplies, a stomach that isn’t growling due to having eaten a good breakfast, and smiling and cheerful are all visible signs that students came prepared. They could also come prepared with a good night’s sleep, focused, calm, and ready to learn – all invisible ways that students come to school prepared. Of course, this means there are invisible obstacles to being prepared that we need to keep an eye out for.

Engagement:

Engagement is the third component of the APEX model. Before learning can begin, students need to be engaged. At ClasStars, we identify engagement into two types: entitled engagement and earned engagement. Entitled engagements are acts of positive feedback and attention that each child deserves for just being there – for example, a personal handshake or a complimentary comment in the morning. A teacher went viral on social media for having a personalized handshake with every single one of his students, and they started their morning by entering the classroom after doing a different handshake each time. That’s personalized attention and engagement that the teacher gave each student just for being there. On the other hand, earned engagement is the type of engagement we’re used to, the type that students need to work for – for example, praise for good deeds for work well done. The bottom line is that children need entitled engagement (even if they didn’t “deserve” it) to succeed. If teachers are only giving out earned praises, then some students will inevitably not receive any, which would be very discouraging for their growth and success.

Challenge and Success:

Challenge and Success is the final component of the APEX model. Once students are present, prepared, and engaged, the learning needs to be challenging; otherwise there will be no growth. On the other hand, if they just fail again and again at the challenge, students will ultimately fail. That’s why they eventually need to experience success to grow. And as they succeed, they can be challenged again and the cycle helps them continue to grow and succeed.

Identifying Problems and Solutions Using the APEX Model

Now that we’ve explored the four components of the APEX model, let’s look at how to identify problems and provide solutions for each component.

Attendance:

The first step in addressing attendance issues is to track attendance because as stated earlier, you may not have a very clear idea of how “present” students are when they’re going to the bathroom, maybe more than they should be. While this only requires a piece of paper and a pen at your side, you can also use a tool like ClasStars for accurate and easy tracking to monitor student attendance and intervene if necessary. Once you have the data to back it up, you can begin to challenge students when they return from the bathroom after 20 minutes, or if they miss 30% of a lesson.

Preparedness:

To address preparedness issues, you need to be observant and attentive to your students’ needs. As you get to know your students, you’ll pick up on the invisible signs of distress and unpreparedness. For example, you can ask students if they’re hungry in the morning, how they’re doing if they seem a little down, and provide support in ways you can. Once you know why the student is unprepared, it becomes easier to help them with that specific problem.

Engagement:

To ensure that students are engaged in the classroom, you need to provide the minimum amount of entitled engagements that each student re

quires every single day. Again, this could be a simple acknowledgement of a simple feat: being at school, a cool t-shirt, having eaten breakfast, saying “good morning” to someone. Then, of course, with each good deed, you should reward them with earned engagement. 

The key with engagement – and particularly entitled engagement – is to be super mindful to include everybody, because it is so easy to overlook a handful of students in a hectic classroom. Like with attendance, you can keep track with a simple class list and check off the students that you engage with as you go. If this sounds too complicated, this process can become systematically easy to manage with the right tool. With a dedicated platform for engagement like ClasStars, the data input becomes simple, easy, and supported by a color coded system to highlight where everyone in your class stands in regards to engagement. 

Challenge and Success:

To ensure that students are continuing to grow and learn, they need to be challenged and then succeed. If students begin to disengage with your lessons despite the first three components of the APEX model being satisfied, then try to slow down and take it back with their learning or reassess their learning style. Perhaps they need a different approach to this certain topic, or it’s too easy or too challenging for them. Simply asking them these questions and then changing your teaching method slightly based on their answers could be enough to re-engage them. A formative assessment is an effective tool to get a good measure of how well students are learning via this process. There are many systems and tools that teachers can use to measure formative assessment – for instance, ClasStars. The APEX model can be a valuable framework for assessing and addressing student problems. By focusing on components of attendance, preparedness, engagement, and challenge and success, you can provide the support and guidance that each student needs to succeed. As a teacher, you have the power to make a difference in the lives of your students. Use the APEX model to help them reach their full potential.