In the Upper School, students with identified learning differences or special needs will have an introductory meeting during the fall term with Deepa Bhatt-Mackin, who serves as Upper School Guidance Counselor and Learning Specialist, as well as the student’s relevant teachers, advisor, Head Teacher, and/or Dean for Students. The purpose of this joint meeting is to clarify needs as they relate to the Upper School program and how we might best meet those needs.
For those students rising from the Middle School who already possess an Accommodations Plan, this plan will be taken into account and adjusted as necessary to reflect the changing needs and opportunities of the Upper School.
For students without an Accommodations Plan, recommendations for a formal psycho-educational evaluation will be made, and the Upper School Guidance Counselor/Learning Specialist will write a plan based on evaluation results.
In either case, all plans will have the additional elements of standardized and college entrance exam accommodation allowances within those formalized testing structures. For example, a student who has been recommended to have 100% extended time for in-class test taking will have the same amount listed in the “standardized testing” section of the Accommodations Plan, to the extent that it is available for tests such as the ACT and SAT. There is an additional application process for standardized testing accommodations that parents must initiate.
While the Upper School endeavors to provide accommodations within the daily classroom as needed (sometimes without formal psycho-educational evaluations in place but with recommendations from teachers) formal psycho-educational testing is nevertheless required from a licensed Ph.D psychologist in order to list and grant standardized testing accommodations for college entrance exams.
Accommodations that might be considered, within limits, include:
- preferential seating
- checking of assignment books and advance notice of some assignments
- use of a calculator
- use of a word processor for writing assignments
- opportunity to use another student’s notes or teacher’s notes if available
- permission to record a class
- ability to use audiobooks
- modification of assignments or due dates, possibly including alternate texts or demonstrations of competence
- extended time or alternate location for tests
- behavioral contracts
Examples of accommodations that have been granted for standardized testing have included the following options:
- extended time (between 50-100%)
- separate setting
- multiple sessions
- dictation to scribe
- use of assistive technology
The School now has contracts with a number of academic tutors and coaches who work on campus with teachers and students with identified learning differences and ADHD. The additional cost of these services is the parents’ responsibility.
Additionally, the School Counselor/Learning Specialist occasionally provides supportive counseling (as distinct from therapy) to students on an individual and/or group basis. The purpose of this counseling is to help the student regulate emotional experiences within the course of the school day in order to return to the classroom with an enhanced ability to resume school work. In other cases, students simply want assistance with test and performance anxiety, coping strategies, generalized anxiety, low grade depression, and a host of other issues.
Confidentiality is respected and maintained, and referrals for external therapy are made according to the student’s and/or family’s requests.