Student Support Services at ISB are designed to intervene on behalf of students who need services that support their academics and emotional development. Student Support Services staff includes counselors, English as an additional language (EAL) and learning support (LS) teachers at each division. The speech and language pathologists and school psychologist support all divisions.
Within the context of ISB’s learning opportunities, Student Support Services professionals work together with teachers and parents to make ISB’s curriculum accessible to our diverse student population by tailoring instruction to support individual student needs. Recognizing and respecting developmental and cultural diversity, our partnership guides students across the developmental learning spectrum towards their unique social-emotional, linguistic, academic, and physical potential.
The learning support model practiced at ISB has gradually moved away from a refer-test-place process towards a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), sometimes referred to as an RTI process. MTSS refers to the practice of providing interventions matched to students’ needs and applied with fidelity.
Another key feature of the MTSS process includes frequent evaluation of data on student progress to determine the level of support needed. We have universal screeners in place and a referral process that encourages and supports early interventions and problem solving. We are working on integrated data collection and progress monitoring to better inform decisions at each tier of service delivery.
ISB provides learning support to students who need skill remediation as well as additional support and/or scaffolding in order to access ISB’s academic content. When necessary, curriculum standards are modified. Learning support may be provided through remediation, accommodations, and/or modifications as stated in students’ Intervention/Accommodation Plans (Tier 2) or Individual Learning Plans ILP (Tier 3).
The criteria for learning support services, particularly at the Tier 3 level, is often based on assessment scores or diagnosis of a learning disorder. Although a diagnosis can be used as evidence that learning support services are needed, a diagnosis is not required and does not drive the placement decision. Some students receive services based on need and current level of performance as determined through data collection and analysis.
Students may receive services for a short period of time, others for longer periods, and still others may remain in the highest level of learning support and receive services for the duration of their time at ISB. Learning support specialists at all divisions focus on the goals of promoting the development of skills and strategies necessary for a student to become a successful learner.
The English as an additional language (EAL) program reflects the Mission, Vision, and Core Values of ISB by providing students the opportunity to learn language, learn about language, and learn through language.
While learning English, EAL students will develop respect and appreciation towards language, culture, and global diversity. English Language Learner students will acquire content and academic language skills that they need in order to be successful, independent learners in the mainstream classroom.
EAL students are categorized into three levels – beginner, intermediate, and advanced. EAL teachers in grade 1 to 8 spend a considerable amount of time in the classroom. Students in grades 1 through 8 receive service in a 'sheltered-immersion' model. The EAL and classroom teachers work collaboratively using a co-teaching model to ensure the curriculum is accessible to all students.
Additionally, the beginner- and intermediate-level students may also participate in pull-out lessons taught by EAL specialists. The EAL specialists use the pull-out sessions to introduce and reinforce the knowledge and skills to better ensure academic success. The High School EAL program has the capacity to serve students in grades 9 and 12 in an 80-minute support class every other day along with support through consultation and some co-teaching with subject teachers. At all levels, the EAL specialist teachers work with subject and classroom teachers on designing differentiation strategies and assessment accommodations as needed.
Students move between levels and are exited from the EAL program when they reach a designated level of academic English proficiency.
The students’ performance on the WIDA test is used as an external reference point, but other standardized tests, language acquisition rubrics, and qualitative information are factored into the decision.
Counselors are a vital link between other Student Support Services staff, classroom teachers, and parents. They often facilitate the Student Support Services team process and monitoring all students on their caseload. They establish, maintain, and update student records and guidance resources.
Counselors work directly with students as they conduct small groups to address specific social-emotional issues that may adversely impact students, and meet with individual students as needed to provide necessary support. Individual contacts tend to be short-term and issue-specific, and are often episodic in nature. Due to the nature of school counseling, counselors may refer a student and family to outside resources for more in-depth or therapeutic support when there is a need for ongoing or more significant support.
Counselors coordinate student transitions between divisions (from Lower to Upper Elementary, Upper Elementary to Middle School, and Middle School to High School) and the transition of incoming and outgoing students, and provide counseling pertinent to post-secondary educational decisions and opportunities. They are responsible for scheduling classroom placement for students each year.
Counselors provide outreach and resources in the form of workshops, book clubs, meetings (for staff, students, and parents), and consultations with students, staff, parents, and community resources. They may provide professional development opportunities and assist teachers with conflict resolution, mediation, stress management, and transition or personal adjustment issues that students may be facing.
Counselors also are members of crisis response teams, both at ISB and in the wider community, to provide support and training in the event of a crisis or catastrophic situation
Speech and Language Pathologist (Therapist)
The speech-language pathologist (SLP) provides services that include screenings, evaluations, interventions, and consultative services for students with a wide range of communication needs.
Services are offered in the Elementary School divisions. Consultation and services are available at the Middle and High School levels when a request is directed through the MTSS process, or services are offered in all divisions.
The term “communication” is broad, as is the SLP role, and encompasses three to four major categories:
- Speech disorders are disorders that are related to the production of speech sounds. Students are eligible for therapy at ISB if teachers and peers find them substantially difficult to understand, or if speech and sound production is significantly and adversely impacting the child’s academic progress. Sound-production difficulties may occur with pronunciation, fluency (stuttering), and voicing.
- Language disorders are deficits in understanding and/or producing language. Eligibility is based on significant linguistic need, which is then confirmed by a formal language evaluation.
- Pragmatic disorders are difficulties in the area of social interaction. Pragmatic disorders are addressed by the SLP when they are a part of a more generalized language disorder that is significantly impacting the student’s academic progress.
- Other: The SLP also addresses hearing concerns that match ISB’s criterion of mild to moderate learning needs; for example, the SLP may administer pure-tone hearing screenings and assist with the management of hearing limitations related to hearing loss.
Levels of Support and Delivery Models
Speech-language services include screenings, standardized evaluations, recommendations for classroom modifications, and therapy to remediate speech and language disorders. Therapy is provided individually or in small groups and, in order to maximize efficiency, students receiving articulation or Tier 2 services are generally seen for a block of eight to 12 weeks. Remediation will not necessarily be complete by the end of a block and may continue if the need persists. Service delivery models may include therapy in a pull-out setting, within-class support/intervention, and consultation with teachers, specialists, and parents. Parent involvement is critical.
The school psychologist provides consultation, evaluation, intervention, prevention, and research services within the ISB setting.
These services are specifically designed to benefit students, parents, staff members, and administrators across all ISB divisions, and are not intended to supplant diagnostic and clinical services by private practitioners. Consultation services consist of providing psychological expertise and input to issues or concerns by students, staff members, parents, and administrators.
The psychologist works with teachers and Student Support Services team members to develop and implement intervention services necessary and appropriate to assisting students in becoming successful. The school psychologist also provides intervention and prevention services, research and evaluation, and counseling under certain circumstances. Lastly, the school psychologist, as a specialist in the area of assessment data interpretation, is responsible for school-wide consultation on all matters related to universal screeners and progress monitoring.