Academic Support Services for Boys in the Elementary Division
At PDS, we believe that every boy can learn, and we strive to teach in ways that maximize learning for each boy. Because we also know that all boys do not learn in the same way, at the same rate or on the same timetable, PDS employs four learning specialists, a study skills coach, and three learning coaches to work with our students. The learning specialists and learning coaches work with all boys in the elementary division in small groups to develop and strengthen both basic foundational skills and higher level thinking skills. The study skills coach works with boys and teachers in grades 5–6 to infuse organizational and study skills into the curriculum. The Director of Academic Support facilitates the process of determining boys who need additional academic support and monitoring their progress.
PDS serves boys of high-average to gifted intelligence, including boys with a variety of learning styles, differences and disabilities. Given the rigor and pace of the academic program and the school’s focus on serving boys of the aforementioned range, PDS cannot meet the learning needs of all types of students. The school will counsel out a boy when the school is unable to provide the type of academic and learning program a boy needs. The school, though, can and does serve boys with certain learning differences and disabilities, as long as the student has, in the school’s judgment, the ability, work ethic and study habits to thrive in the school’s demanding curriculum and high expectations, and as long as the parents have, in the school’s judgment, the deep commitment to the child’s learning and close partnership with the school.
What should I do if I think my son might have a learning difference or disability?
First, speak with your son’s teacher. If she has observed similar characteristics and behaviors, she will initiate the academic support protocol. At this point, the Director of Academic Support with meet with teachers and/or parents to determine the best academic action plan for the student.
What if my son needs a psychoeducational evaluation?
The Director of Academic Support can help you determine whether you should pursue a full battery of cognitive tests. The school counselor may also be involved in the process and can provide parents with a list of professionals in the community. All psychoeducational testing must be conducted and written by a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed psychological examiner, or other licensed professional (in cases where the learning disability is caused by vision or hearing problems). Although a pediatrician might be prescribing medicine for a boy, a letter from a physician cannot document a learning disability.
How is my son placed with the Slingerland-trained learning specialist?
Boys in grades 1–3 who are experiencing difficulty in learning to read and/or write or who have educational testing indicating the need for a multisensory approach to teaching reading can be placed with a Slingerland trained learning specialist. The Head of Elementary and the Director of Academic Support will make the final determination regarding placement in this program.
When during the school day would my son work with a learning specialist?
Boys are scheduled with the learning specialist in the following ways:
Boys in grades 1–3 may meet with the learning specialist during non-instructional class time.
Boys in grades 1–3 may be pulled out of regular small group reading instruction and placed with a learning specialist during their small group instruction time. Boys who are served in this way will show an “M” on their report card indicating that the regular curriculum has been modified to meet the needs of the student.
Boys in grades 2–3 may be pulled out of the regular classroom and receive all literacy instruction with a learning specialist. Boys who are served in this way will show an “M” on their report card indicating that the regular curriculum has been modified to meet the needs of the student.
What accommodations and/or interventions might my son receive at PDS?
After receiving and reviewing the psychoeducational evaluation, the Head of Elementary and the Director of Academic Support will meet to determine which accommodations PDS will be able to implement for the student. The counselor may also be involved. They will then meet with the parents and classroom teachers to outline the school’s plan for the student.
If a parent chooses to seek academic intervention from an educational program outside of PDS that would require the student to miss any portion of the regular school day, the parent must first receive permission from the Head of Elementary.
How often does my son need to be re-evaluated?
Evaluations on file at the school should be no more than three years old.
Academic and behavioral performance are reported to parents in the following manner:
Boys in PK-SK receive a developmental progress rating corresponding to their respective academic and behavioral progress.
A printed report card is sent home with the boys in PK – SK each trimester.
The report card of boys in Pre-Kindergarten, Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten is divided into the following four sections: Subject Area Competencies, Learning and Thinking Skills, Life Skills and Personal Growth and Development.
A boy’s progress in each of the subject area competencies is assessed with the following assessment scale:
The student meets or exceeds expectations most of the time.
The student consistently demonstrates strong, independent progress and understanding of academic expectations and consistently produces quality work.
The student is making progress toward an expectation of mastery.
The student is making good progress.
The student is not meeting grade level benchmarks for achieving mastery.
The student regularly requires additional time and/or support at school and home.
The report card of boys in grades 1-4 is divided into the following four sections: Subject Area Competencies, Learning and Thinking Skills, Life Skills and Character Growth and Development.
A boy’s progress in each of the subject area competencies is assessed with the following assessment scale:
- Level 3 Learner
The student consistently meets (or exceeds) academic expectations.
The student consistently demonstrates strong, independent progress and understanding of academic competencies and consistently produces quality work.
- Level 2 Learner
The student is making progress.
The student is making progress, but does not yet consistently demonstrate understanding of academic competencies and/or does not yet consistently produce quality work.
- Level 1 Learner
The student needs improvement.
The student is not yet able to demonstrate understanding of academic competencies. The student does not consistently produce quality work and/or requires much additional teacher support.
Competency not assessed during this trimester
Modified work or curriculum
A boy’s progress in each skill in the Life Skills and Learning and Thinking Skills sections of the report card is assessed with following assessment scale:
- The student consistently demonstrates this skill.
- The student is making progress, but does not yet consistently demonstrate this skill.
- The student needs improvement in this skill.
The report card of the boys in grades 5–6 is also divided into the four sections described above. The report card and assessment scales are the same for each section; however, boys in grades 5–6 also receive overall numerical grades in the core subjects of language arts, science, social studies and math.
Reporting Grades to Parents
A printed report card is sent home with boys in grades 1 - 6.
Trimester Honor Roll
Each trimester boys in grades 5 and 6 will receive recognition on Honor Roll if they achieve 90’s or better in each of the 5 core subject areas (Reading, English, Math, Science, Social Studies) and 2 or above in all other areas on their Report Card.
Yearly Honor Roll
Boys in grades 5 and 6 will receive yearly recognition on Honor Roll if they achieve 90’s or better in each of the 5 core subject areas (Reading, English, Math, Science, Social Studies) and 2 or above in all other areas on their Yearly Report Card.
Boys in grade 6 will achieve the Headmaster’s List if they achieve a yearly average of 95 or better in each of the five core area subjects and 2 or above in all other areas.
Each student will be carefully assigned to a homeroom through a thoughtful process supervised by the Head of Early Childhood, Principal of the Elementary Division, and the Head of Elementary.
Requests by parents for a homeroom teacher cannot and will not be honored. Please do not make such requests.
The school may initiate conversations with parents for guidance in assigning a homeroom if there is a special need.
The homeroom teacher will be responsible for students’ attendance records and will also assign locker and storage areas to students in upper grades.
A positive and productive relationship with the homeroom teacher is vital for a child’s success at PDS.
Parents or guardians have a key role to play in assuring that their boys are completing their homework, preparing for tests (as applicable), and doing other work necessary to a boy’s academic growth and development. Parents should provide the appropriate structure and support and assure that a boy is completing these school obligations. The school reserves the right to meet with a parent or guardian of a boy not meeting such obligations to discuss this problem and insist upon parental action to help remedy it. Should a parent or guardian, in the school’s opinion, not be able or willing to provide the structure, support, and environment necessary for the boy to complete his school obligations, the school reserves the right to dismiss the boy from PDS.
While parents have a responsibility to assure that their sons are completing their homework, a parent should not actually do the homework for their sons. Among boys in grades old enough to understand the concept of cheating and the appropriate boundaries of parental assistance, those boys will be considered to have cheated if a parent or guardian does their homework for them. Teachers can provide guidance in each grade for what is an appropriate way for a parent to participate in homework assignments. Those guidelines will be different for boys in different grades, and different types of homework may involve parents in different ways.
In Senior Kindergarten, students have additional practice at home. Students should independently complete as much of the work as possible with a parent offering assistance only when absolutely necessary. Parents can help by providing a space to work that is free of distractions and equipped with materials such as pencils, crayons, markers, scissors and glue for completing assignments. Homework must be completed and turned in by the last school day of the week it is assigned.
In Grades 1–3, it may be necessary for parents to help guide and monitor the boys in an effort to help develop consistent study habits. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade boys should be responsible for their own homework. Parents can communicate their trust and confidence in their children by offering encouragement and support; however, the parent’s role should be as a consultant or monitor, not a participant or doer. Sending positive messages, encouraging independence, and assigning responsibility will allow the boys to gain self-confidence and develop homework management skills.
The amount of time needed to do homework varies with the individual child and depends upon many factors such as ability to organize time and materials, willingness to focus on a task, and responsibility to plan and carry out a course of action.
Individual reading rates, degrees of perfectionism, use of class time, and levels of fatigue from lack of sleep or extra-curricular activities will also influence the amount of time spent on homework. On the average, homework assignments are designed to be completed within the following approximate times :
|Grade 1||15 minutes||Grade 4||60 minutes|
|Grade 2||30 minutes||Grade 5||75 minutes|
|Grade 3||45 minutes||Grade 6||90 minutes|
Exams in the core subjects (Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science) are given to boys in sixth grade in May and will count 10% of the final average in each of those classes.
The Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) developed by the Educational Records Bureau is administered each year to boys in grades two through six. The CTP is the most widely used test among independent schools in the country, and its results afford us the most accurate measurement of both the aptitude and achievement levels of our boys. The CTP measures achievement only in grades two and three. The CTP measures verbal ability, quantitative ability, and achievement in grades four through six.
Performance on this test is only one part of the total picture of each boy’s educational development. Evaluation of annual progress is difficult to measure accurately over a standardized testing period of three to four days. More comprehensive evidence of achievement is reflected in a longitudinal review of daily classroom performance and results of many other assessment measurements used throughout the year.
Each family will receive an Individual Student Report Subscore (which provides graphic description of student performance) and an ISR Score Interpretation Folder. The Head of Elementary is available to answer any questions you may have regarding interpretation.