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ERIC Number: EJ1095272
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0145-9635
Reconceptualizing Academic Support
Vantine, Laura
Independent School, v75 n3 Spr 2016
Over the past 30 years, more and more independent schools have established academic support programs and learning centers to address their students' individual learning needs. Perhaps not surprisingly, as the number of students being evaluated has increased, even more families have requested academic accommodations and services for their children. For the most part, learning centers and tutors have served the individual needs of students well, but in the rush to accommodate students and families, there has been a tendency to over-pathologize­ students' struggles and to categorize too many under the auspices of learning centers. What began as a well-intentioned initiative to provide extra support for students who truly needed it has evolved into a full-blown model of special education that, by its sheer weight and focus, may actually undermine students' academic experience. This article discusses how Winsor School (Massachusetts), an all-girls school for grades 5-12, has shifted away from a deficit model of academic support to a school-wide collaborative support paradigm. By reconsidering academic support practices, they have effectively changed how they think and talk about students who struggle in school and normalized typical differences in learning styles and needs among the students. In place of the medical model for diagnosing students' difficulties, the public school model for special education, and the tutorial model for student services, the school is focusing on three emerging elements of academic support: (1) giving teachers agency in the academic support process; (2) changing the language used to communicate about students' struggles; and (3) giving students a voice to write their own learning narratives. This change in the institutional approach allows every student to develop the self-awareness, self-advocacy, and self-efficacy they need to succeed both in school and after leaving the school.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A