The learning specialists at Dawson School collaborate with students, faculty, and parents to provide resources and support students with self-advocacy, implementing appropriate strategies and utilizing resources to support learning. Dawson currently has one learning specialist in the upper school, one in the middle school and two in the lower school.
Lower School Learning Support
The lower school learning specialists have weekly scheduled time in every lower school homeroom to support students, observe, and plan with teachers. With the support of the learning specialists, classroom teachers differentiate instruction in the classroom through small groups, assistive technology, and targeted instruction to ensure students are met at their level and provided accommodations when needed. Based on the size of the group and the type of instruction, the learning specialist may push into the classroom or pull out small groups of students into another work area.
Middle and Upper School Learning Support
The upper and middle school learning specialists provide support to students and teachers by observing in classrooms, gathering information that can be helpful in identifying student needs and next steps to support success, and incorporating assistive technology through apps, online resources, and audiobooks into the classroom. In the middle and upper schools, we believe in providing students with resources and tools that can be used after graduating from Dawson. The learning specialists consult with teachers but do not provide direct intervention for students.
A Dawson learning plan is equivalent to a 504, which is an accommodation plan. In order to qualify for a learning plan, you must have required documentation and evidence of need. Documentation may include but is not limited to: full psycho-educational evaluation, full evaluation from a clinician or diagnostician (speech therapist, OT, etc.), or a copy of an IEP or 504 plan. A learning plan is a living document that evolves over the course of a student’s Dawson experience that provides classroom and testing accommodations. Dawson can’t always provide all the recommendations listed in an evaluation or IEP/504. Decisions regarding appropriate accommodations are made in partnership and based on a combination of past documentation, teacher observations, recommendations from a formal evaluation, or medical documentation.
Commonly provided accommodations at Dawson:
Extended Time on Assessments
Testing in a Separate Location
Preferential Seating in Class
Audio Books (through Learning Ally and/or Bookshare)
Use of calculator on assessments
Ability to type in-class essays and notes
Learning Support does not provide:
Regular, on-going one-on-one support and/or intervention for students
Diagnosis of a learning difference or any formal evaluations/testing
Advanced Learning Plans/Accelerated Programming
Paraprofessionals/assistants in the classroom
Modified curriculum (i.e. shortened assignments)
Accommodations vs. Modifications
Accommodations are provided to ensure that a student’s ability, not learning difference, is being assessed. They remove barriers and provide a student a fair opportunity for success in the classroom. Modifications are provided to change and adjust the curriculum, standards, and expectations for students. For example, modifications would be shortened essays or less math problems. Accommodations would be supports to help the student complete the same assignments as their peers. For example, a calculator, dictation software, or audiobooks.
While Dawson does provide accommodations, we do not provide modifications for students. For example, we do not shorten assignments, extend due dates, or alter test formats.
Students receiving accommodations are expected to study the same material, complete the same assignments, and are assessed with the same standards/grading scale as their classmates.
Please contact admissions for more information or to determine if Dawson is a good fit for your child at 303-665-6679 x404 or firstname.lastname@example.org