Learning Services Programs

The Focus Program was developed for students experiencing attentional and/or organizational or executive functioning difficulties. Initiated in 1995, the program is available at both the Middle and Upper School levels. Students are assigned to a small advising group. They meet with their advisers at least three times a day for support and strategy instruction. In addition, students also receive daily instruction with a Learning Services teacher either as a part of their Language Arts class at the Middle School level, or through a Focus class, which meets regularly, at the Upper School level.

Literacy Program (Reading or written expressive disability, dyslexia)
In the Middle School, individualized daily Literacy support for students experiencing learning differences is provided within the classroom through a collaborative model. The Learning Services and Language Arts teachers partner to provide instruction each day during an 85-minute block to ensure that reading and writing success occurs within the context of the English and Language Arts courses. If a student is identified as needing intensive instruction in phonological coding, he or she will participate in an additional Reading and Writing class at least three times per week for 45-minute, typically using a Wilson Reading System.

For students experiencing learning differences in grades 9–12, specialized Learning Services coursework is provided in a variety of formats. Students may take a Study Skills class offered to support 9th grade science and history classes or a Literacy class to support reading and/or writing progress. Goals of these classes vary according to the individualized needs of the participants, but typically support the student’s work in academic classes. Students take Learning Services courses in addition to their core academic and elective classes; therefore students are never “pulled out” of classes to receive Literacy instruction.

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.

Use of the Wilson Reading Program
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 to groups of four or fewer students by trained experts. Teachers are certified through a rigorous program of training and annual professional development. Diagnostic testing assists in determining program placement and progress once the program has been initiated.

Local 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 teaching students how to use and read texts for the courses (e.g., history, science) they are taking. 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:

Admissions information - Contact Kristel Dunphy, Assistant Director of Admissions
Learning Services Program information - Contact Dr. Dana Gurney, Director of Learning Services


Students applying to the Learning Services Program must submit additional information specific to the program to which they are applying. However, all programs require current educational testing information (within eighteen months) that includes a WISC, the Test of Written Language, and relevant achievement data such as the Woodcock Johnson Achievement Test. Further information is available both through Admissions (Application Process) and Learning Services.

   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
   Assistant Director
   of Admissions

   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