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Middle School Support and Inclusion Practices

Middle School Support and Inclusion Practices

Teachers differentiate their lessons based on the needs of the students and classroom work is adjusted on a case-by-case basis given student needs. Our advisory program allows students and their parents to have a specific person in the school that knows the student well and can advocate when needed.

Practices for successful learning and teaching include but are not limited to:

  • Small group instruction
  • Multiple mode instruction (kinesthetic, visual, auditory)
  • Choices of work alone, partners, groups
  • Offering key material on various platforms (videos, computer simulations/games)
  • Lessons that connect ideas and concepts to student interests and/or real life
  • Homework options and book choices
  • Student choice goal setting
  • Flexible seating
  • Varied computer programs
  • Scaffolding long-term projects
  • Flexible reading format
  • Open-ended activities
  • Mini-workshop to repeat/extend skills
  • Negotiated criteria
  • Negotiated time
  • Multiple levels of questions
  • Alternative assessments
  • Learning contracts
  • Entry points (pre-assessment to allow multiple levels of mastery)
  • Lectures along with graphic organizers
  • Rafting (role audience format and topic)
  • Interest groups, literature circles, stations, group investigations
  • Teams, games, tournaments

Resources to ensure the success of all

Student Support Specialist:

  • Works with classroom teachers to meet the individual needs of students:
  • Supports teachers in unit planning to ensure differentiation methods include all learning styles (visual/auditory/kinesthetic)
  • Collaborates with middle school division head to track and communicate to teachers and families specific student needs and progress.
  • Works with students during study skills and independent study times.
  • Works together with lower school student support specialist to ensure that existing Learning Plans are continued.

6th Grade Study Skills (semester one): All 6th-grade students participate in study skills for the first semester of the year. This class meets twice per week and aims to ease the transition from 5th to 6th grade through approaches to learning (ATLs) as well as understand a student’s responsibilities and rights in the community.

6th Grade Study Skills (semester two): Students who would benefit from additional teacher coaching are placed in small focused classes to continue working on building study skills learned in the first semester.

Independent Study: Independent study takes place three days per week and is monitored by subject specialists. Although students are assigned to a room, they can move and get help from a subject specialist or work collaboratively with other students. Students who struggle in a particular subject may be placed with a teacher of that subject or may meet with the Student Support Specialist.

Counselor: The counseling department is responsible for providing consultation to staff, students, and parents, teaching social-emotional lessons in classrooms, short-term individual counseling, and bringing presenters and programs to the French International community. The Counselor/nurse teaches weekly sixth-grade health and social education, as well as provides support for 7th and 8th grade advisors.

Staff Development: Teachers are encouraged to attend workshops, typically through the IB or Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS) but not limited to these organizations. Examples of workshops attended include: Differentiation in the Classroom, Inquiry in the Classroom, and Learning and the Brain conference. The student support coordinator provides information about learning disabilities through workshops and handouts. They also report back from workshops and lectures.

Outside Services: When necessary, staff works with parents to seek outside services including counseling or academic support.

Inclusion of students with identified and evaluated special needs

Students who arrive in the middle school with an identified special need: Notes are shared between lower and middle school, and parents and staff meet and continue the plan. The plan is evaluated regularly.

Students new to the middle school: After observing all of their students the first weeks of school, teachers report any concerns to advisor and/ or student support specialist and/ or division head. Teachers of these students are gathered, observations are shared. Advisor and student support specialist meet with parent. Decisions for further evaluations are made. A request for outside evaluation or testing by professional can be advised. Final decision lies with family of the student. Counselor may be involved in the process. If a formal diagnosis is confirmed, student support specialist drafts support plan. Plan includes: information about student, needs to be addressed, and goals for teachers, parents and student. The plan is reviewed and annotated if needed with family, then shared with advisor and teachers. Success is evaluated every 6/8 weeks when student support specialist gathers information from teachers and meets with family. A plan can include: modified schedules, modified assessment modalities, modified assignments, modified deadlines, seating preferences, additional tools for student or teacher (computer, microphone, scribe etc.)

Conditions that are likely to request a formal support plan include but may not be limited to the following:

  • Autism spectrum/Asperger’s syndrome
  • Attention Deficit disorders
  • Medical conditions (can be temporary ex: concussion)
  • Mental health issues
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Physical and/or sensory challenges (ex: auditory, visual)
  • Speech and communication challenges (ex: stuttering)
  • Social, emotional and behavioral difficulties (ex: social anxiety)
  • Specific learning difficulties (ex: dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, math disorder)

Note: Reading Level Testing and remediation is offered on campus. The three most common assessments that are given to assess grade reading level include:

  • The Slosson Oral Reading Test (SORT) screening test to determine reading level
  • Spelling Assessment using the Morrison-McCall Spelling Scale. used to identify the initial instructional level and evaluate periodic student progress
  • The Six-Minute Solution: A Reading Fluency Program

Assessing students with different needs: inclusive and fair assessment

Once a student has been professionally evaluated and recommendations shared with the school, assessment modifications are communicated to teachers. Assessment modifications refer to the support a student needs to be successful on an assessment in view of the challenges this student faces. Format, timing, or delivery of assessment may be modified or supported with aids; however, concepts are generally not modified on formative or summative assessments. All modifications to assessment depend on the student’s standard scores as given in the evaluation report. For specifications, see Support Team. Arrangements can take the form of:

Modified format: The following modifications can normally be made to assessment task descriptions

  • Changes to the print on assessment handouts: Enlarged print and/or a change of font may be requested for students with visual challenges and other processing issues for which they require this arrangement.
  • Printing on colored paper
  • Modifications to the visual complexity / Modified layout: Simplifications to the layout or visual complexity of an examination paper can normally be made. (Ex: 2 pages instead of back to back, answer sheet or not) The visual content will only be simplified if this can be achieved without compromising the assessment objectives of the assessment task.
  • Modifications to the language of the description of the task: This normally involves the restructuring and simplification of language, and the rephrasing of questions.
  • Modified number of items on an assessment 
  • Modification to the format of assessment: offering an oral test as opposed to a written test
  • Modified time
    • Additional time: may be authorized for written assessments and tests and for certain activities connected to the student’s needs. The additional time given will depend on the student’s score as stated in the evaluation report and can go from 10% to 50% additional time. The Student Support Team holds this information which will be part of the student’s plan and shared with teachers. 
    • When requesting additional time, it is important to bear in mind that too much time may be tiring and, therefore, counterproductive for a student.
    • Rest breaks/separate room: at the discretion of the teacher a student who is allowed additional time may complete his or her assessments and tests in a separate room and have rest breaks as needed. 
    • Extensions and exemptions: In order to be eligible to use extensions of deadlines, a student must show evidence of a medical or psychological challenge that has genuinely prevented them from completing work in time. Student support specialist, administration and teachers will find the resources to address the need (continued test after school, continued test in Student Support office)
  • Modified delivery 
    • Access to a different mode of assessment: oral alone with teacher, recorded, at home
    • Access to writing aids 
    • Access to writing aids may be authorized for written assessments and tests and for certain activities connected to the student’s needs such as:
      • A medical, physical, or sensory condition that renders the candidate incapable of reading or writing for long periods of time as demanded by the assessment task.
      • Dyslexia and dysgraphia.
      • Handwriting that is largely illegible to someone who is not familiar with it which may be caused due to underlying mild processing or coordination challenges.
      • If a student is authorized to use a reader, scribe, and/or prompter, the same person should fulfill both or all roles whenever possible. The writing aids allowed will depend on the student’s score as stated in the evaluation report. The Student Support Team holds this information, which will be part of the student’s plan and shared with teachers.
    • Aids may include: Word processor, Spell-checker, Speech recognition software, Scribes: a scribe is a person who writes down the dictated response of a student, Live scribe: a special pen that writes the dictated response of a student, Speech to text and text to speech tools, Access to notes, Fidget tools, Access to readers

In order to be eligible to use a reader or reading software a student must show evidence of at least one of the following:

  • A score of 90 on reading speed/reading accuracy/reading comprehension
  • A medical, physical, or sensory condition that impairs the student’s reading
  • The role of a reader is to read the assessment task description to a student and to read the student’s answers back to the student if applicable.
  • An assessment task description must be read out loud without any alteration to its wording.

Access to speech and communication supports

Students with speech and communication difficulties may need assessment modifications to access some components of the assessment task. The use of augmentative speech equipment may be authorized in these circumstances.

Access to calculators

A score of 90 or less on a test of mathematical fluency entitles a student to be eligible to use a calculator.

A note on report cards will be added to describe modifications.

Teaching and Learning Policies