Learning Services Program

St. Andrew’s Learning Services program best serves students with mild learning differences, including expressive or receptive language deficits, attention and executive functioning challenges.  Students benefit from small class sizes (maximum twelve students per class, and not more than five students in a learning services class), differentiated strategy and skill instruction and a provision of services to support the mastery of content expectations in their academic classes.  Teachers work with students to identify their strengths, and demonstrate different pathways to success. Together, these components allow for the education of the whole child. Students learn to become effective self-advocates as they gain knowledge and understanding of their individual strengths, challenges and unique learning style. As a result, self-esteem and self-confidence grow.

Although there is no “typical” learning services student, and all our students are unique, most students share similar qualities in their learning profiles and their educational needs. Our students possess average to above average cognitive ability, and may or may not have a formal diagnosis. It is not uncommon for students to have one or more learning challenges that interfere in the learning process. Students with language-based learning differences may experience difficulty with reading, spelling, written expression, math and organization of written and spoken language, study skills and understanding of textbook material. Some students find paying attention in class, staying organized, managing time demands and focusing on schoolwork to be challenging.

Students who participate in a Learning Services program may have one or more of the following diagnoses:  

  • Language-based learning differences including dyslexia
  • Receptive and /or expressive language deficits
  • Difficulty with executive functioning skills
  • Memory storage and recall issues
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Articulation problems
  • Visual Processing
  • Concurrent conditions such as ADD or ADHD that exacerbate a student’s learning challenge
  • Non-verbal learning disorder (NLD)
  • Dysgraphia
  • Social cognition challenges
  • Processing issues that impact learning (e.g., memory, retrieval, graphomotor speed, and production)

St. Andrew’s Learning Services program supports students with dyslexia, language based learning disabilities, attention deficits, executive functioning challenges, and other learning differences, such as school-related anxiety. A small number of students identified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder also attend St. Andrew’s.  

St. Andrew’s School is not the right fit for every student. We are not a therapeutic school and our programs are not designed to meet the needs of children with primary behavioral or emotional difficulties.

Bringing out the best in each student

Each Learning Service program complements our college preparatory curriculum. Up to 25% of our total student body may be receiving learning services supports.  Students participating in these programs need current documentation of the challenges from an appropriate evaluator. This information is shared with St. Andrew’s during the admissions process—so the best program can be designed for each student.

Students who receive learning services benefit from:  

  • A focus on executive functioning skill development, including how to break down large assignments into smaller components and how to understand and find the main idea.
  • Supportive and strategic class work with a learning specialist who knows and understands the student.
  • The direct teaching of communication skills, self-advocacy and constructive help seeking.
  • Significant class time with a Learning Specialist or academic teacher who knows and understands the student.
  • Time management, learning techniques, organizational and study-skills coaching.
  • Monthly detailed communication home so parents and school work in partnership.
  • Close liaison with Learning Specialists.
  • Accommodations such as extended time on tests and the use of technology.
  • The opportunity practice and improve academic planning and personal organization. 
  • Learning healthy and effective study habits, and building self-awareness.
  • The opportunity to learn how to learn so each student will become life-long learners to fulfill individual potential.

All of the faculty in the Learning Services Department are certified special educators in the State of Rhode Island and have many years of experience with specific training in the models we use. An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is developed by the learning services teacher after a collaborative TEAM meeting with the student (when appropriate), parent, teachers, adviser, and Director of Learning Services. This plan guides instruction for the specialized services to be provided.  Annually the IEP is reviewed and consideration given to renewal of the program services based upon the student’s progress and evaluative information.  A student may be enrolled in or released from a Learning Services program with the School’s agreement and approval of the Director of Learning Services. Students participating with an IEP may take advantage of a homework club two times per week, sometimes more often, offered from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

Students supported through Learning Services in the Upper School attend specialized classes with an average class size of 3 students. Small classes enable students and teachers to get to know each other well resulting in strong, enduring relationships with teachers.  In this climate, over time, even the most reserved students feel comfortable volunteering their perspectives. Fees beyond the tuition for the College Preparatory program are assessed based upon the types of Learning Services each student will be taking. Our goal for all students is to provide the best possible environment for learning. St. Andrew’s teachers use multiple strategies to support learning.

After graduating from Upper School, students typically transition to college, others enter the work force and some join the military; all are ready for future success.  

These programs include our:

• Focus Program

• Literacy Program

• Speech and Language Program

• Tutorial Program

For More Information:

Contact Dr. Dana Gurney, Director of Learning Services, (401) 246-1230, ext. 3048 or
Lisa M. Goniprow, Coordinator of the Office of Learning Services, (401) 246-1230 ext. 3054

• Assessment and Evaluation Information Needed for Candidate Application
As we strive to meet the individual needs of each potential student, candidates for the Learning Services program are evaluated based on their learning profile and the potential to thrive in our community. Current assessment information is key to understanding a student’s learning profile to determine programming and support needed in our learning environment. This information should include any group standardized testing a school district has completed. In addition, it is most helpful to have a current Psychoeducational Evaluation completed privately or through one’s school district. This includes both cognitive and educational achievement assessment information.  The more current this information is, the easier it is to plan programming for the student. We also like to see the testing results from when the primary diagnosis was initially made. 

In terms of cognitive testing, most often the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children WISC 4th or 5th edition or for those preparing for college, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale 4th or 5th edition is utilized. In addition, most often, non-verbal processing measures are included in the cognitive evaluation, such as the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration and the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test or the Hooper Visual Organization Test. In addition, the testing may also include Memory measures, such as Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Language—2nd Edition, Children’s Memory Scale, California Verbal Learning Test.

For academic testing, be sure the evaluator includes all areas relevant to the primary areas of learning difference. For instance, if the student has reading and written expression challenges,  more than one reading and written measure should be included. For example, this may include, the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test—3rd Edition testing, the Test of Written Language 4th Edition, and the Gray Oral Reading Test 5th Edition or the Nelson Denny Reading Test, that can help determine the role of extra time needed for reading. Depending on the student, if the challenges in reading and writing are due to a language-based learning disability, it is likely that a speech and language evaluation would also be most helpful. If a student has been working with a tutor, information from the tutor would also be relevant. 

If the student has challenges linked to executive functioning, the testing should include information regarding specifics of the challenges and how parents, the student, and teachers view the challenges. This information should be submitted in addition to the achievement academic testing. The Admissions personnel will ask you to complete a Focus form for parents and teachers to complete. 

If the student has social or emotional challenges, include the most relevant testing linked to the challenge. Information from a current therapist may be particularly helpful toward assessing the candidate’s learning profile.

   Dr. Dana Gurney
   Director of Learning Services
   and Co-Director
   of Middle School
   Ph: 401.246.1230 Ext. 3048

   Lisa Goniprow

   Coordinator for the Office
   of Learning Services
   Ph: 401.246.1230 Ext. 3054

   Kristel Dunphy

   Associate Director of
   Admissions & Financial Aid

   Ph: 401.246.1230 Ext. 3053



St. Andrew's School Rhode Island   63 Federal Road, Barrington, RI 02806
Tel: 401.246.1230 Fax: 401.246.0510 Email: webmaster@standrews-ri.org