ISD - The International School of Dakar

Learning Support - Overview

It is the goal of the ISD learning support program to increase the academic success of identified elementary and middle school students with mild learning differences. Academic support is provided in either inclusive or pull-out programs that match individual needs with appropriate strategies and methods. There is no learning support program available for high school students at ISD.

Pull-out learning support is delivered in small groups (between 2 and 6 students per teacher) to identified students during the daily French instructional block. Students are clustered and supported in cross-grade bands: Grades 1 - 2, Grades 3 - 4, Grades 5 - 6, and Grades 7 - 8, and receive 45 minutes per day of tailored academic support.

In addition to providing pull-out support to identified students and managing individual educational plans, the learning specialist visits classrooms regularly to work with teachers to offer strategies for differentiating instruction. On occasion, the learning specialist is asked by individual teachers to work with specific groups of students within the classroom to bolster identified skills.

ISD utilizes a child-study team approach and follows a clearly articulated referral process for identifying students who will benefit from learning support. This team, comprised of classroom teachers, principal, learning specialist, ELL specialist, and specialist teachers meets regularly to discuss students of concern, individual education plans and future actions. Teachers and parents are encouraged to seek out the assistance and resources provided by the learning specialist whenever learning questions arise.

Identified students who qualify for gifted services are supported through regular differentiation of content, instructional method, task or assessment model in the regular classroom setting. It is the goal of ISD to enrich and extend learning experiences for high-achieving students. ISD does not offer acceleration or out-of-age placement as an option for high achievers.

Early Intervention Learning Support

At the primary level (PK4 - grade 2), early intervention strategies are employed to remediate weak literacy skills. This small-group support may take place during the literacy block or during daily French instructional time and is facilitated by the learning specialist and/or classroom teacher. In addition, students who require math remediation may receive support in small groups within the general classroom. The early intervention program is fluid in nature, offering students an opportunity to receive the support needed to meet grade level expectations in core subject areas. An IEP (Individual Education Plan) is not written for students receiving this support unless a specific learning disability has previously been identified through a psycho-educational evaluation.

Elementary and Middle School Learning Support

Students in upper elementary (grades 3 - 5) and in middle school (grades 6 - 8) with identified needs and current (within the last two years) psycho-educational testing receive an IEP (Individual Education Plan) with measurable goals and objectives to use in delivering support. Students in grades 4 - 8 require an evaluation to receive support. Using the results and recommendations from the report, the learning specialist creates an IEP to be reviewed regularly by the Student Support Team in designated parent meetings. Parents are encouraged to participate in the revision and review process.

Students in the learning support program with IEPs may receive support in either their own classrooms through the use of differentiated teacher strategies or when necessary, in small inclusive or pull-out programs delivered by the learning specialist during daily French instructional time. Students with IEPs are eligible for a maximum of 225 minutes per week of this intensive small-group instruction. Students receiving this academic support do not participate in the French program at ISD. Francophone students with identified learning differences may opt to attend French classes and receive academic support within the general classroom, provided that their academic performance is no more than 1.5 years below placement.

ISD is unable to meet the learning needs of students who are more than 2.0 years below placement in one core subject area, or more than 1.5 years below placement in more than one core subject area. Speech, language and occupational therapy are not available at ISD, and any additional professional services required must be provided after school hours. Local resources for additional support (psychiatry, psychological therapy, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, adaptive physical therapy, etc.) are extremely limited in Dakar.