Learning Services Programs
The Focus Program was developed for students experiencing attentional and/or organizational or executive functioning difficulties. Students may need extra review of assignments, support to improve handing in assignments in a timely manner, or even time management in breaking down long term assignments. In addition, support may be needed with materials management, or organization to build efficiency in finding needed items. Still others may need support with planning ahead to build success, learning how to initiate a challenging task in a timely manner, knowing what to do when to complete school tasks when they go home and how to get started. The goal is not only to improve these executive skills and strategies, but to also reduce stress and increase academic success. Initiated in 1995, the program is available at both the Middle and Upper School levels.
Middle School Focus Program: Daily instruction with a Learning Services teacher is provided as a part of their Reading and Language Arts classes. Students also work closely with an adviser on these goals.
Upper School Focus Program: Students take a 45-minute class 5 times per week after lunch with a learning specialist to support skill and strategy development or an equivalent 70-minute class 3 times per week.
In the Upper School, students take Learning Services courses in addition to their core academic and elective classes. Freshman year, a Learning Service support class may need to be taken instead of an art, foreign language class or other class. After freshman year, more opportunity opens up for electives.
In the Middle School, daily individualized Literacy support is provided within the classroom, through a collaborative model. The Learning Services and Language Arts teachers partner to provide instruction each day during 70-minute blocks to ensure that reading and writing success occurs within the context of the Reading and Language Arts courses.
In the Upper School, a variety of Literacy courses are offered to support developing reading and written expression in concert with college preparation classes. For example, one group may focus more upon intensive written expression, while another is building reading comprehension and related written expression skills. The Literacy courses are worth one-credit, and like other classes, require homework completion.
For students still learning how to decode and encode, St. Andrew’s utilizes the Wilson Reading System or Orton-Gillingham. Instruction is direct, systematic, individualized and multisensory. Teachers are certified through a rigorous program of training and professional development. Diagnostic testing assists in determining program placement and progress once the program has been initiated.
Speech and Language Program
Speech and Language therapy is available for students who have documented needs (as presented in a formal, current evaluation obtained by the parent). Using curriculum-based materials whenever possible, service is a combination of in-class support, individualized therapy, and consultation with classroom teachers. Parents and students work with their advisers to determine the optimal schedule for this service.
The Speech and Language Therapist shares updates with advisers regularly and contacts parents at least once a month to ensure a well-coordinated program. Formal progress reports are sent home twice a year, at the end of each semester. Each student receiving speech services will be formally evaluated each year using standardized testing to determine the current level of performance. St. Andrew’s speech and language therapist also works 1:1 with students and in small groups to build social cognition skillfulness and to offer time and guidance for social problem solving and role playing.
At times, students may need more individualized support. 1:1 or small group tutorial options are available to support such needs. Fees for this will be discussed prior to initiation.
For students who need to strengthen the skill of phonological coding to become fluent independent readers and writers, St. Andrew’s utilizes the Wilson Reading System. This program, developed by Barbara A. Wilson, is proven to be successful for students who need reading, spelling, and writing instruction that is direct, systematic, and multisensory. Wilson Reading System lessons are taught by trained experts, in groups of four or fewer students. Teachers are certified through a rigorous program of training and annual professional development. St. Andrew’s School is a member of the Wilson Academy and has earned the endorsement as a “best practice” site. Diagnostic testing assists in determining program placement and progress once the program has been initiated.
Recent research completed by University of Rhode Island professors (Catone, W.V., & Brady, S.A. (2005), Annals of Dyslexia, Vol. 55, No. 1) suggests that all too often secondary students with reading disabilities are not provided with a plan nor the instruction to remediate diagnosed reading disabilities that focuses on building word- and phonological-coding skills. Rather, special educators often spend their time trying to adapt materials and teach students how to use texts. The researchers encourage secondary schools to do as St. Andrew’s does—to continue to directly teach these critical skills to build independence and success through greater decoding and encoding skills.
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