The Whitfield learning environment naturally accommodates a variety of learning profiles. Teachers and administrators partner with families to provide a successful academic experience for all students from sixth grade through senior year. We recognize that students capable of being successful in a rigorous college preparation program may also experience learning challenges that require additional support. The school strives to work with all students, including those with diagnosed learning differences, to provide fair and reasonable opportunities for academic success. In addition to small class size, teachers recognize the need to design student-centered learning events that tap into individual intelligences and aptitudes.
Whitfield faculty realize the need to differentiate as well as provide appropriate accommodations that have been identified through an outside educational or neuropsychological evaluation. An evaluation may be initiated by school personnel who are responsible for communicating with parents if/when their child is demonstrating persistent learning challenges. An evaluation may be initiated by parents but must include school personnel and feedback. If parents have pursued an evaluation prior to student admission then the parent(s) is responsible for sharing evaluation information to be reviewed by school personnel.
When an outside evaluation is completed and/or received and student accommodations are necessary, a student learning plan will be developed by the Director of Teaching and Learning. Teachers, advisors, students, parents and outside service providers will collaborate in crafting and implementing the plan. Student learning plans outline individual strengths and areas of need for support and accommodation.
The following accommodations are considered to be appropriate and accessible at Whitfield:
- up to 100% extended time on quizzes, tests, and exams (typically 50%)
- reduced-distraction testing environment
- eliminate the use of scantrons when possible
- preferential seating
- use of a scientific calculator when a graphing calculator is prohibited
- access to study guides/class notes when requested
- other accommodations are allowed in cases when the core requirements of the course are not compromised and when existing resources are available.
Student learning plans are periodically reviewed and modified. Over time, identification and ownership of the need for accommodations should be student driven. Developing self-advocacy skills as well as the ability to differentiate for oneself is the goal upon graduation.
In order to receive accommodations, a comprehensive evaluation must have been completed by a qualified Psychologist/Learning Specialist within the last three years. The student’s evaluation report must include the following:
- the specific disability or disorder which has been diagnosed
- a recommendation for specific accommodations, with an explanation of why the disability requires each accommodation requested
- relevant educational, developmental and medical history of student
- thorough documentation of the techniques or methods of evaluation
- test results and subtest scores
- the professional credentials of the evaluator (license, certification, area of specialization)
Once the report has been submitted and reviewed by the school, it will be kept in the student’s file, and the school’s confidentiality procedures will be followed. It is important to note that a diagnosis, in and of itself, does not necessitate the need for accommodations. Parents are financially responsible for any outside support indicated in an assessment. Parents are also asked to provide any documentation of learning disabilities during the Admission process.
Standardized Test Accommodations
Students in grades 6-10 take the ASPIRE, a standardized test designed by ACT. By design, the ASPIRE test is given without accommodations. Because the results from the ASPIRE test are only shared with the school and your family, this test provides documented information about general test performance. Therefore, it can be used in conjunction with classroom testing and exam testing documentation to apply for accommodations for the ACT during the junior year.
Students receiving accommodations at Whitfield may be eligible for accommodations for the SAT and ACT tests used for college admission. Upper school families are notified each year regarding the process for requesting accommodations for these standardized tests. For a student to be considered for these accommodations, Whitfield must certify that we have current signed documents on file which include the information listed above. The decision to grant accommodations for these exams is made independently by College Board (for PSAT, SAT, and AP tests) and ACT (for the ACT test). Whitfield School is not involved in the review process when determining which, if any, accommodations will be granted for these standardized tests. The Director of College Counseling, and Assistant Director of College Counseling, help families submit their applications for accommodations.
The ultimate goal at Whitfield School is to build a collaborative partnership with students and families. That relationship provides the platform for maximizing the student learning experience and providing students with the skills to be successful in future academic settings. To that end, reasonable and appropriate accommodations can be consistently provided when proper evidence and documentation is ascertained.
While Whitfield School makes reasonable efforts to support students who are admitted, the school may determine over time that a student’s needs would be better served in a different academic setting.